A person affected by a town planning decision regarding his application for the issue of a town planning permit to develop his immovable property can file an appeal before the Council of Ministers through the interior minister.
Such an appeal can be filed against the refusal of the planning authority to issue a requested permit or against any term imposed thereby. The appeal must be filed within 30 days from receipt of the planning decision. The person affected must pay the necessary charges and deliver a copy of the appeal to the town planning authority.
The Council of Ministers has the power to accept or dismiss the appeal or to annul or amend any part of the town planning decision, as well as being able to examine the original application. The appeal is a way of examining the correctness of town planning decisions and the person affected can choose this procedure instead of filing a recourse before the Administrative Court. The decision of the Council of Ministers can be the object of a recourse before the court if the complainant is adversely affected, having a second chance to examine the legality of the decision.
Taking into consideration the shortness of the procedure and the low cost involved for the examination of the appeal by the Council of Ministers, this procedure is preferable.
The appeal is submitted in the form of a letter, in which the complainant states the facts of his case, accompanied with the relevant documentation. The charges payable for a residential development vary between €80 and €125 for each residential unit while charges for other types of development differ accordingly. The town planning decisions against which an appeal can be filed concern the Town Planning and Housing Department and the town planning authorities of the municipalities.
A ministerial committee is established to which the Council of Ministers assigns their power to decide on the appeal. If an appeal is accepted, the ministerial committee calls the town planning authority to re-examine the application and the latter must comply.
According to case-law, the town planning permit constitutes the prerequisite for the development of a land. The term “development” has a broad meaning in the law and includes every substantial change of the character or the use of an immovable property. The town planning permit is connected with the land and its duration is normally three years unless its terms provide otherwise. Moreover, it constitutes a single administrative measure regarding both the proposed development and the terms upon which it will be carried out.
The Administrative Court often annuls town planning decisions, which have been criticised judicially, such as cases where the town planning authority omits to reply, refuses to issue the town planning permit due to proposed widening of the public road network without street planning, the preservation of a piece of land for future construction of a public school or for carrying out any other project, the encouragement for the submission of an application for the division of a land into plots and the subsequent change of its terms or the imposition of drastic terms affecting the development, the existence of a notice or of an order for compulsory acquisition, the imposition of a term in the town planning permit in favour of a third person or even a reply through a letter, the content of which is not understandable with an aim to avoid a clear reply and cause delay.
Consequently, the fair treatment of the citizen by the town planning authorities, when applying for the development of his land, should be demonstrated through the legality of their decisions. The appeal constitutes the first step for the protection of a citizen whose rights are affected by a town planning decision.