Getting Planning Permission in Spain

So, you’ve conquered the buying off plan challenge and now you’re contemplating your next project. Perhaps you have thought about buying a piece of land and designing your dream home yourself, away from the coast further inland where it is said to be cheaper. If the buying off plan procedure took a bit of getting used to then getting planning permission might feel like crossing a minefield.

Every regional government has its own system of dealing with new developments. In Valencia and Andalucia there have been many changes recently.

In Valencia the controversial ‘Land-Grab’ Law has been overruled much to the relief of hundreds of homeowners, amongst them many expats.

The Andalucian government has realised the trend for foreigners to buy cheap land so they have started to pressure town halls to be stricter with granting planning permission. Buyers of land are often left waiting for months for permits, which can be frustrating for those keen to get on with their projects.

Am I free to build on any land in Spain?

No, before you buy any land you must check that it will be eligible for a building permit. Any plot classed as a ‘finca rustica’ has been zoned as agricultural or rustic land which means that it will fall into any one of the three categories of Protected, Restricted or Building land.

With a permit to build on rustic land you will have to conform to set conditions. You must take a Spanish speaking solicitor with you to find out the exact status with land. If they say that you can build on a plot, ask for written confirmation.

Who grants planning permission?

The local municipal town halls. This means that the ease of obtaining a building permit (licencia/permiso de obra) varies depending on the region.

What do I need to take?

So, you’ve bought your plot which you know is eligible for a building permit and you have your deeds (escritura). You need to find a good architect, preferably recommended locally. The architect will put together the plans of your proposed home. You should submit these plans with the application and the fee to the town hall, using a local solicitor.

How much does it cost?

Four to five per cent of estimated construction costs.

How long does it take to be granted?

If you are lucky between three and six months after applying but I should stress if you are very lucky!

Is it difficult?

If you asked me this fifteen years ago, I could have said no, but today governments do not want to lose control of the rate of development so they are clamping down on this area.

Every town hall operates differently and there are always loop holes to all kind of restrictions, it is just a case of researching and finding them out. There are lots of steps that people take to help their case, such as registering as almond farmers, in order to be granted permission to build on finca rustica which requires that the land be used for farming purposes.

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