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My land has become unbuildable: what can I do?

Has the land you have bought become unbuildable? Would you like to know if you can object to this decision? Are you wondering whether you can contest the fact that your land has been declared not suitable for building?

When you bought your land, it was suitable for building. But if you didn’t start building immediately, the planning regulations may have changed, classifying your land as unbuildable. All is not lost, however, and legal action is possible.

Unbuildable land: Recourse is available

You should know that the urban planning document of interest to you is the Plan local d’urbanisme (PLU), formerly the Plan d’occupation des sols (POS). It is the local reference document for all questions relating to urban expansion or the regulations applicable to isolated or grouped housing. It is in this document that the constructibility or otherwise of your land appears.

What is constructible land and what is not?

Whether or not a plot of land can be built on depends on precise, cumulative criteria:

  • The land must be capable of supporting the weight and loads of a construction, it must be able to support a construction.
  • The land must be connected or connectable to one or more roads and public utilities (water, gas, electricity, etc.).
  • The land must be considered suitable for building under town planning regulations.

There are several reasons why a plot of land that was initially constructible may become non-buildable. Safety or public health reasons, for example.

Please note: changes to local planning documents are frequent and rapid. So when you buy a plot of land, we strongly advise you to start building as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for buyers to see their project derailed by a modification to the PLU in the space of just a few months.

Modifications to the Plan local d’urbanisme: you can contest them

Contesting the revision or modification of the Plan local d’urbanisme

You should be aware that your land is neither constructible nor non-constructible indefinitely. Certain procedures can change the situation of your land.

For example, the process of revising or modifying the Plan local d’urbanisme or the Plan d’occupation des sols can make land that was not constructible constructible, and vice versa.

In all cases, when such a procedure is envisaged by the mayor or the prefect, you can always oppose the project during the public inquiry. The project will always be subject to such an inquiry, and you will be informed of it. If you object to the project during the public inquiry, a public meeting will be organized with the mayor’s approval, and you will have a legitimate opportunity to put forward your point of view.

If you did not oppose the decision during the public inquiry, all is not lost.

Cancellation of the Plan local d’urbanisme

If you obtain the annulment of the Plan local d’urbanisme that renders your land non-constructible, the Mayor will have to refrain from applying this PLU and apply the old version in force. Version in which your land was constructible.

A PLU can only be annulled if it is illegal. The legality of this urban planning document can be contested by means of a specific appeal, the recourse for excess of power.  You can directly challenge the decision to modify or make compatible the PLU by means of this appeal.

“You can directly challenge the decision to modify or make compatible the PLU”.

This appeal must be lodged within two months. If you would like more information on this recourse, please consult our article on the subject.

Can I convert a non-constructible plot into a constructible plot?

In some cases, you may not have been able to challenge a change in the planning regulations in time to make your land non-constructible, and you may not be able to lodge an appeal to overturn these changes.

However, you should be aware that your land may become constructible again as a result of another revision or modification decision.

A commune already has the option of declassifying a plot of land. In other words, it can, on a case-by-case basis, grant building permission on land that has been declared unbuildable. These are exceptional cases that require you to contact your town hall directly.

In other cases, when justified by the interests of the commune, the municipal council may deliberately authorize certain constructions on non-constructible land.

Do you have further questions? Would you like to know more about your rights when your land becomes non-constructible? Would you like to be advised by an expert lawyer in the field?

Contact us and a lawyer from the AGN Avocats network will meet with you!

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