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What can we do about retrospective planning permission?


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Following on from a posting a few weeks ago, it now looks as if the house we bought 10 years ago did not have full planning permission, which is making it difficult to sell. In fact, one of our estate agents refuses to market it now, as he would have to disclose this fact to any potential buyers. Now that we are aware of the problem, we want to sort it out so that no-one in future has to worry. Does anyone have experience of gaining retrospective planning permission, either from a notaire or a maire. I know that someone added to my previous post and said that some notaires will issue retrospective planning permission, but our notaire seems to be particularly inept, so it would help to have a template letter. If anyone has any ideas, I would be very grateful. We feel very 'stuck' at the moment.

Sue

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I presume that the the dwelling is not older than 1943 when the PC was introduced.[:)]

I presume that the building works would have had no problem in obtaining a PC at the correct time;

If so there is a good chance that the situation is "régularisable"; a chat with the mayor to get him on side would be useful, most are only to keen to be helpful.

Assuming that the mayor does not throw a tantrum declaring that the construction is "irrégularisable" then you can start the next stage; the buzz words are "un permis en régularisation"; A definition http://www.immoneuf.com/definition-permis-regularisation

It is essential that the construction complies with the "règles d'urbanisme" and the mayor will pass the application to the local DDE to make sure on that score...that should be just a formality.

Good Luck!

Post scriptum:

A parigot neighbour had to do this some years back when I objected to his "irrégular" wood shed. I made him jump through the hoops by being my usual  self; cost him a small fortune for advocates.[:D]

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I have no experience of retrospective planning but several of renovation and new build planning, having dealt with French Notaires, Geometre, Architects and builders, English Architects and builders. What I have learn't is they all make mistakes and charge a lot (the English most). Whereas this rite of passage has taught me that much of what they had done could be done almost for nothing but my time at the Mairie. This is best done face to face, starting with the Secretary on the desk, so I would advise it's worth the cost of a trip and for you to go to the Mairie first; best when they are least occupied with other visitors, even if it means returning on a less busy day; advice, forms and much assistance is freely and gladly given, when they have time. . .
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It will be the DDE who will sort this out but as said getting the mayor onside is a great advantage. He is the one who will tell the DDE that he does not object and he can't see anyone else objecting either. I couldn't agree more with coming over and sorting stuff out face to face.

Not relevant but as an example of how things get done quickly face to face I registered a German car in France a few months back. I just made sure I had all the paperwork, went to the prefecture, got in a queue and within 90 minutes walked out will all the French registration documents, round the corner, got the plates made up, job done. Do it through the post and phone it would have taken weeks.

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Very sorry to hear of your situation, Sue Buckle, but I cannot understand how this was not picked up by the Notaire, estate agency, vendor etc ten years ago when you bought your property. If they are still around, your first point of enquiry might be to them.

Second, I agree with the advice given about apporaching the Mairie direct. That said, however helpful they may wish to be, if some aspect of the building is in breach of planning controls, they may not be able to grant retrospective planning permission - perhaps not until any irregularity is corrected. Some aspects are also out of their control - I am dealing for a client with a house built on agricultural land 15 years ago without planning permission. The owner/vendor assures me M le Maire is saying 'no problem'; while the chief executive is telling me 'no way, we know about this illegal property, it is also in a Zone Rouge (non constructible) and any decision would have to go the the Prefecture'. I have asked the owner/vendor to sought out this mess before we can even consider a 'compromis de vente' to get the sale moving.

In the above case, the offending property was not even on the 'plan cadastre' when I enquired for a copy at the Mairie and told them something was missing........While this may all become an administrative embarrassment to those concerned - and hence a reason for getting it sorted out quietly - local decisions could be overruled.  Regrettably, this makes this property - and perhaps your own - unsaleable, as I have advised the owner. Without a watertight solution (curiously the property is also in a flood zone!) my potential buyers will not contemplate buying.

I do hope you get it sorted out 100 per cent correctly.  

P-D de R.

 

 

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Hello

My house was built without planning and so when I bought it I made planning for the original building and full planning to double the size suspensive on the compromis.  Notaire had no issue with that and we all had to wait for it to go through.  It did with no issue even though it was built on agricultural landm it took about 6 weeks longer to complete because of this. One thing though it was bizarrley on the cadastre.

I'm confused though how, as PD is above, could you have bought it without planning when identifying and signing the cadastre and description of the property etc is a large part of that.

Do we have the full story?  Was it misdescribed?

EDIT read your other post, so its an extension which has no planning?

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Quillan, the DDE do the work but all applications relating to planning permissions & déclarations have to be submitted to the local Mairie, one does not go direct to the DDE.

A 'permis de regularisation' is not covered by the governing statute, the Code de l'Urbanisme. It is however accepted as a practical and administrative tool; the OP is by no means the only person in France to have come up against this sort of problem.

First step for the OP is to contact her Mairie and and then to submit an application for planning permission. The Notaire isn't needed, she can do it herself, or with professional advice.

Just John: please don't tar all English property professionals with the same brush! That was a very unfair comment you made.

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[quote user="Polly"]  First step for the OP is to contact her Mairie and and then to submit an application for planning permission. The Notaire isn't needed, she can do it herself. - Just John: please don't tar all English property professionals with the same brush! That was a very unfair comment you made. [/quote]

How so? I think I made it clear that the comments were based on my experience in France, and especially compared with greater experience in the UK (10 properties in all). I'm glad to see my advice was subsequently confirmed by yourself.

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[quote user="Polly"]Quillan, the DDE do the work but all applications relating to planning permissions & déclarations have to be submitted to the local Mairie, one does not go direct to the DDE.
A 'permis de regularisation' is not covered by the governing statute, the Code de l'Urbanisme. It is however accepted as a practical and administrative tool; the OP is by no means the only person in France to have come up against this sort of problem.
First step for the OP is to contact her Mairie and and then to submit an application for planning permission. The Notaire isn't needed, she can do it herself, or with professional advice.
Just John: please don't tar all English property professionals with the same brush! That was a very unfair comment you made.
[/quote]

I disagree with Polly above on this, my experience is with Quillan's, straight to the DDE, make an appointment with the architect responsible for your area, depending on the size of your town/village he/she (not very likely) may look at your area once a fortnight, they will tell you straight what the issues are going to be, no need for the mayor to be involved at this stage, if you get to submitting new plans then you will need to go via the mayors office but in my expereince knowing exaclty what you are up against and the best way to get things approved comes from the achitect whose job it is to stamp 'approved'.  The mayor has very little say in this despite folklore quoted around this area.  The mayor can say yes to anything but if the DDE have not offiically approved it it can get overturned.

They are also much more likely to go with you if you've met them and explained everything and taken their advice on board, again my opinion. 

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[quote user="just john "]I have no experience of retrospective planning but several of renovation and new build planning, having dealt with French Notaires, Geometre, Architects and builders, English Architects and builders. What I have learn't is they all make mistakes and charge a lot (the English most). Whereas this rite of passage has taught me that much of what they had done could be done almost for nothing but my time at the Mairie. This is best done face to face, starting with the Secretary on the desk, so I would advise it's worth the cost of a trip and for you to go to the Mairie first; best when they are least occupied with other visitors, even if it means returning on a less busy day; advice, forms and much assistance is freely and gladly given, when they have time. . .[/quote]

I completely agree with John.  There is no doubt that a few hours spent at the Mairie works wonders for anything to do with planning.  I had to recently deal with a tricky and delicate situation on planning at a French property and I did it for free by first seeing the receptionist, then the Maire himself (that took 2 weeks to arrange) and then the planning secretary.   I brought them all onside before anything was put it in writing.  I didn't let my notaire anywhere near the problem.

You have to judge your timing and be prepared to go back when they are less busy.  Do not go anytime near 12noon, for example.  The Mairie does open doors, especially of you are polite and helpful to them.  'Bonjour Madame.  Desole de vous deranger.  Estce que vous pouvez m'aider?'  is the opening line that works for me.

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[quote user="Polly"]Quillan, the DDE do the work but all applications relating to planning permissions & déclarations have to be submitted to the local Mairie, one does not go direct to the DDE.
A 'permis de regularisation' is not covered by the governing statute, the Code de l'Urbanisme. It is however accepted as a practical and administrative tool; the OP is by no means the only person in France to have come up against this sort of problem.
First step for the OP is to contact her Mairie and and then to submit an application for planning permission. The Notaire isn't needed, she can do it herself, or with professional advice.
Just John: please don't tar all English property professionals with the same brush! That was a very unfair comment you made.
[/quote]

Sorry but your wrong. Going through the mayor is only a courtesy he/she does not grant any permissions. All they can do is object on legitimate grounds if they feel something is detrimental to the village, town or city. However in marginal circumstances the mayor can be helpful if he is on your side. I have only ever used the mayor to get forms when unable to download them off the internet, in all cases I have gone directly to the DDE and never had a problem.

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I am NOT wrong. All applications relating to planning permissions & déclarations have to be submitted to the local Mairie, and planning decisons are issued by the Maire of the commune. He signs the document. Check out the Code de l'Urbanisme.

As in the UK, the head honcho signing the paper is not, of course, the poor old pen-pusher who actually does the job of assessing the application.

The extent to which the DDE is involved varies from département to département (as does the competence of their staff). In our area you are very very lucky (or unlucky!) ever to have a DDE person actually turn up at the site of your planning application to look at it on the ground. For this reason the supporting documentation which accompanies any application is very important, you need to get the good points across to the bureaucrats in a way which is easy for them to understand.

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[quote user="Polly"]Quillan, the DDE do the work but all applications relating to planning permissions & déclarations have to be submitted to the local Mairie, one does not go direct to the DDE.
A 'permis de regularisation' is not covered by the governing statute, the Code de l'Urbanisme. It is however accepted as a practical and administrative tool; the OP is by no means the only person in France to have come up against this sort of problem.
First step for the OP is to contact her Mairie and and then to submit an application for planning permission. The Notaire isn't needed, she can do it herself, or with professional advice.
Just John: please don't tar all English property professionals with the same brush! That was a very unfair comment you made.
[/quote]

You are, as usual, in matters of this tenor completely correct. The procedures were modified by Borloo in October 2007 in the interests of simplification and in particular the number of "Permis" was reduced and rationalised; but the "maire" remains the receiver of all things bright and beautiful on the construction front. I am sure you are familiar with the current Regs but no harm in a quick copy/paste:

Sous-section 1 : Dépôt des demandes et des déclarations.

Les demandes de permis de construire, d'aménager ou de démolir et les déclarations préalables sont adressées par pli recommandé avec demande d'avis de réception ou déposées à la mairie de la commune dans laquelle les travaux sont envisagés :

a) Soit par le ou les propriétaires du ou des terrains, leur mandataire ou par une ou plusieurs personnes attestant être autorisées par eux à exécuter les travaux ;

b) Soit, en cas d'indivision, par un ou plusieurs co-indivisaires ou leur mandataire ;

c) Soit par une personne ayant qualité pour bénéficier de l'expropriation pour cause d'utilité publique.

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Thank you everyone for so much sound advice. We are also bemused by the fact that this was not picked up when we bought the house 10 years ago. We now know the estate agent we bought the house through, knew about the problem but chose to say nothing. We didn't even think to ask, trusting the French notaire to do all necessary searches, but it looks as if that wasn't done!

We have found reference in an old 'acte de vente' of 'le vendeur a sollicité en vue d'un agrandissement, un permis de construire qui lui a été délivré le 5 mars 1971, sous le numéro 025.07/0, qui a fait l'objet d'une déclaration d'achievement des travaux en Mairie, suivie du certificat de conformité d'usage délivré par la Direction départementale de l'Equipement du VAR, a la date du 21 mai 1981.'

But there is no trace of this permis, so we do not know what it covers. It could legalise our entire house, it could just have been granted for an outdoor terrace. Two notaires have sold this house in the past, and they cannot find a copy of it either! The DDE don't keep records over 10 years old.

We have been in touch with the mayor. We know him quite well, as he is also our neighbour. He owns all the land around our house, and it was his father who sold the house originally in 1981, when HE was mayor. So it is a bit embarrassing, as the current mayor now realises that his father didn't do his job properly all those years ago. There is apparently no trace of the permit at the mayor's office, and he seems to think there is nothing he can do. We are not sure how good a mayor he is, to be honest. Our village is run by a small group of village men who all look out for each other, employ their wives and children, and are quite unhelptul, in a fairly polite sort of way. It has been made very clear to us that we are not 'of the village' and we don't think anyone would make any real effort for 'les anglais'. It is one of the reasons we want to move, as we find other parts of France much more welcoming.

One other problem we have is that the house is now in a zone NC. This was imposed in 1985. The original bit of the house is an old stone cabanon which was probably built at least 100 years ago. And the extension was probably done before 1985, but a local architect has told me that it is impossible to grant retrospective planning permission if the house is currently on NC land.

I think I will telephone the DDE tomorrow and ask their advice. I much prefer the idea of going to them rather than the mayor.

Thanks so much for so many helpful suggestions,

Sue

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The architect is in principle correct with respect to the extension; if the original part is over 100 years old it would be prior to the introduction of Permis de Construire in 1943 so it would never have had a Permis de Construire.

The whole basis of regularisation is based on Jurisprudence established in due legal process: the thread has not really explored the effect of that on the Statute Law as contained in the Code d'urbanisme.

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We have found reference in an old 'acte de vente' of 'le vendeur a sollicité en vue d'un agrandissement, un permis de construire qui lui a été délivré le 5 mars 1971, sous le numéro 025.07/0, qui a fait l'objet d'une déclaration d'achievement des travaux en Mairie, suivie du certificat de conformité d'usage délivré par la Direction départementale de l'Equipement du VAR, a la date du 21 mai 1981.'

I paste copy from your post above which ostensibly appears to be a verbatim quote concerning planning permission for your property in the Verdon national park. I am concerned at the veracity due to the fact that the word achievement is spelt incorrectly. The document cited is a déclaration d'achèvement des travaux. I am also confused that you state elsewhere that you purchased the property in 1994 but simultaneously state that you have owned it for only 10 years. In addition if the father of the present mayor sold the property in 1981, did he obtain the  certificat de conformité before the date of sale.

The legal situation regarding the regularisation of a property without full or partial planning can be expressed concisely as follows:

Le Code de l’urbanisme ne prévoit pas de permis de construire de régularisation puisqu’il y a une obligation d’obtenir le permis de construire préalablement à la construction projetée.

Cependant, la Jurisprudence a admis la possibilité du permis de construire de régularisation (Conseil d’Etat, 12 octobre 1956, Syndicat départemental de la boulangerie de l’Eure) pour les constructions déjà engagées.

Toutefois, le permis de construire de régularisation ne peut être délivré que si et seulement si la construction édifiée est conforme aux règles d’urbanisme en vigueur au moment de la signature du permis de construire de régularisation, et non pas au moment où la construction irrégulière a été réalisée (Conseil d’Etat, 10 janvier 1986, SCI Villa Pierrette).

Le permis de construire de régularisation ne met pas fin aux poursuites pénales pour le délit de construction sans permis de construire préalable (Conseil d’Etat, 18 mars 1983, Madame Siefert). Ce qui veut dire donc que le prévenu pourra être condamné par le tribunal correctionnel pour ce délit.

The third paragraph states that there must be conformity with the planning regulations at the time of signing the Permis de construire regularising the construction and NOT the planning regulations at the time of the irregular construction.

However your recent post suggests that there was in fact a correct planning situation at the latest during the year 1981 and accordingly it is possible that you may better use your time by seeking to obtain from the relevant authority a copy of the planning documentation validating the original documentation.

 

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The Permis de construire is a public, communicable, administrative document; so it can be examined by a third person and if required a copy obtained; dont forget validation.

 « Maître N. D., conseil de Mademoiselle E. C. et de Monsieur Y. F., a saisi la commission d'accès aux documents administratifs, par courrier enregistré à son secrétariat le 18 juillet 2006, à la suite du refus opposé par le maire de GONDECOURT à sa demande de communication de la copie intégrale de la demande de permis de construire relatif à l'immeuble situé sis 72C rue Nationale.

La commission estime que ces documents administratifs sont communicables de plein droit à toute personne qui en fait la demande, en application de l'article 2 de la loi du 17 juillet 1978

All this 10 year availability is a smoke screen. The protection of the public right to such information is the CADA who have a series of technical guides; the one for your search: http://www.cada.fr/fr/fiches/fiche16.htm

( The little drawing pins with hats on give links to fuller relevant information with jurisprudential support.)

In fact every mairie will have a Register listing the arreté awarding each Permis de Construire with number and date; so you should be able to at least verify the existence of the document.....but the shoe boxes may be more ordered and arranged at the DDE than at the mairie.

By the way there is NO CHANCE of getting a regularisation now at this time in a NC zone in a national park, à mon avis.[:)]

 

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The mis-spelling was mine! It should read 'achevement', and it was indeed an extract from the acte de vente of 1981. The house was then sold again in 1994, and we purchased it in 2001. All with the same 'etude de notaires', none of whom seems to have kept a copy of the original permis.

We have now taken advice from a French lawyer, who believes that the reference I quoted is more than sufficient to show that there was a permit issued at the time, so we are covered. My head is whirling with the amount of information I've been trying to take in, so I think I'm going to leave things as they are for the time being.

Thank you everyone. This forum is a fount of ideas and helpful information.

Sue

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Very good question! One of the 2 estate agents asked at the Mairie, and they told him that there was no permit. When we then started asking questions, the estate agent we purchased the house from said that he thought there was no permit either, but hadn't bothered to tell us, as in 2001 the rules were more relaxed. The previous owner also apparently thought she was living in a house without planning permission, and she didn't tell us either. However, a french property lawyer has just told us that the wording in the 1981 acte de vente covers us, and we are on the cadastral plan in all our extension's glory, so hopefully that is going to be enough.

Sue

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[quote user="just john "]Dare I say you should have been able to view the cadastral plan at the local marie, which might have saved you the worry and hassle of these agents mistakes, hope your lawyer wasn't trop cher[geek][/quote]

Agreed the first thing I would have done. The cadastral plan is now digitised and can be viewed on line at the following official government link. If you know the sheet and parcelle identification then immediately accessible.[;-)]

http://www.cadastre.gouv.fr/scpc/accueil.do

The site has tools to assist in measurements, etc and you can also make a print-out; useful site.

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