The interior ministry on Wednesday announced it will be simplifying the application process for low-risk developments through changes in the legislation.

The legislation will abolish the obligation to secure a planning and building permit for small developments, with the architect and civil engineer taking responsibility for the correctness and completeness of the study.

The regulation being promoted aims to modernise the existing procedures by introducing a more flexible licensing framework, which will reduce the time for examination of applications and improve the service provided to the public within the context of local governance.

The change in the way planning applications are examined was discussed and agreed upon during a meeting on Tuesday between Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou, Etek president Constantinos Constanti, and a delegation

This change also relates to the decision to introduce a set of measures aimed at the redesign and simplification of procedures, and at the same time the preparation of the existing planning authorities to ensure the operation of local government organisations from July 1, 2024, goes smoothly for the public.

To this end, at the request of the interior minister, the town planning department has drawn up a comprehensive plan with a total of 22 measures and a deadline for implementation by July 1.

Among other things, this will differentiate the process of carrying out the required consultations with services (such as EAC, the fire service, water board and public works department), by incorporating the requirements at the stage of submitting the application and not during its examination.

It is estimated that this practice will significantly facilitate the licensing process and the time for examining applications by the town planning authority will be reduced.

The implementation of the town planning department’s ‘Ippodamos’ integrated information system will be promoted from July 1 in all local authorities, for the exclusive digital submission of applications for all types of developments.

“In this way, red tape and inconvenience to the public is reduced and application examination schedules are accelerated,” the announcement said.

At the same time, a working group has begun developing a manual for the implementation of common forms and procedures for examining urban planning applications by all local authorities, to ensure uniformity and eliminate time-consuming bureaucratic procedures, which often cause a delay in the issuance of a decision.

The manual will also include other procedures for which a town planning authority is responsible, such as identifying issues in development plans, problem solving sessions in local authorities and so on.

Finally, the interior ministry and Etek are preparing a training plan for both the members of Etek and the staff that will be hired in the next period to strengthen local government.

The purpose is to prepare and train them for the correct submission and examination of applications, so that there are no delays in issuing a decision due to the submission of incomplete applications.

The bill will be submitted in the coming weeks to the Legal Service for review and it will be submitted to the House interior committee for discussion and voting.