New circular on the project meeting in the Brussels-Capital Region
In the Brussels-Capital Region, the permit applicant may request a project meeting with the granting authority prior to submitting a permit application.
In a circular dated 16 July 2020, published on 12 October 2020 (the Circular), the Secretary of State in charge of Town-Planning and Heritage (Secrétaire d'Etat chargé de l'Urbanisme et du Patrimoine) specified its modalities: an opportunity to take stock of the project meeting in the Brussels-Capital Region.
The Circular entered into force retroactively on 16 July 2020.
Article 188/12 of the Brussels Code of Zoning and Planning (CoBAT) enshrines the possibility for a permit applicant to request a project meeting prior to submitting a permit application.
A Decree of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region dated 23 May 2019 defines certain modalities of the project meeting (the Decree).
The Circular further details certain points of the Order Decree regarding the modalities of a project meeting for which the Delegated Officer (Fonctionnaire délégué) is the presumed competent authority. The project meeting arranged by the Municipalities within the scope of their competence as granting authority is excluded from the scope of the Circular. However, Municipalities will be well advised to follow its recommendations.
The Circular serves for information purposes only.
Principles and objectives
The Circular strongly recommends holding a meeting for (i) projects for which the permit application is subject to the opinion of the master architect (maître-architecte), (ii) large-scale projects due to their strategic nature, a public program (programme public) or their emblematic nature, (iii) strategic public space or green space projects and (iv) any project included in the framework of the Combined School-Housing Plan (Plan combiné école-logement) both before its conception and prior to the permit application.
The purpose of the project meeting is to discuss the main orientations of the project. According to the Circular, the following objectives are to be pursued during the project meeting: the pursuit of spatial quality, convergence and coherence as well as efficiency and transparency.
Request and modalities
The applicant submits its meeting request by electronic means to the granting authority.
The applicant must enclose at least a presentation of the project and a photographic report with the application. At least 7 days before the meeting, the applicant provides a summary of the project including in particular (i) a representation of the existing situation, (ii) a representation of the projected situation, (iii) a brief argument of the project (taking into account the objectives of the CoBAT and the Regional Town-Planning Regulation), (iv) a summary table of the existing and projected land use and (v) any other document that contributes to the understanding of the project.
If these documents are not provided within the deadline, the meeting may be postponed.
Within fifteen days starting from the application, the authority sends by electronic means a meeting invitation to the applicant and other instances depending on the project (the Delegated Officer, the Municipality, the Regional authorities in charge of Zoning and Planning and Monuments and Sites, Brussels Environment, Brussels Mobility, the SIAMU, the master architect and instances whose opinion is considered useful by the authority holding the meeting).
Holding of the project meeting
The project meeting takes place behind closed doors in the offices of Urban.brussels.
The authority draws up minutes of the meeting (containing the orientations and recommendations of the meeting) and communicates them by e-mail to the participants and to each instance present at the meeting, in principle, within 10 calendar days. After receiving the minutes, the participants have 5 calendar days to send their comments to the Delegated Officer.
Follow-up of the project meeting
The minutes do not prejudge the decision of the granting authority during the permit assessment procedure.
However, the project meeting provides greater predictability for permit applicants. They will indeed have a better idea of the feasibility of their project by the end of the meeting. As for the authority, it will be able to immediately identify the sensitive points of the file and assess them. Thorough information and better preparation of the parties involved in the project will increase the probability of a positive outcome for the permit application, within the set deadlines. In addition, the risk of inadmissibility or denial of the permit application is reduced.
Note that according to the Circular, the Delegated Officer shall try in each permit application to remain consistent with the recommendations made in the minutes of the meetings and to deviate from them as little as possible. Any substantial deviation from the recommendations must be specifically well-considered.
Julien LeclerCounsel Attorney at Law
Julien Lecler, Counsel, is a member of the Real Estate practice group and of the Public & Administrative Law practice group in our Brussels office. He focuses on all aspects of real estate law (civil law, rights in rem, construction law, leases) including public real estate law.T: +32 2 773 23 59 M: +32 473 71 34 39 E: [email protected]