Certificat d'Urbanisme Refused

Hi all, I’m looking for some advice please.

We have a piece of land for sale which had a Certifcat d’Urbanisme which ran out in June last year. We have been slowly starting to advertise the land and had a couple of people interested but of course, the certificate needed to be renewed before we could go ahead with any sale. We have now just received the new certificate back from the Mairie only to find out that it has been denied approval.

My questions are:
Why on earth would the designation be different now when nothing has been changed since the last certificate was granted?
Is this possibly a response to Brexit? Is it possible that building plans are under more scrutiny than before if they are submitted by an English resident?
Do we have any way of questioning the decision to withdraw the building designation? I am in the process of translating the various reasons given for denying the certification, but if we are able to fix the items they deem to be problems, can we simply re-submit?
If the land is deemed un-buildable for habitation, do we have any options to sell it? We paid 2,000 to have the land transferred to our names based on the fact that it was worth 30,000 - now it is barely worth the price we paid.

The biggest problem for us is that we had been relying on the sale of this plot to help finance buying a house for ourselves: we are currently renting my mother-in-law’s house which is also on the market, so there is a slight urgency to all of this.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Chloe.

@mrschloegrice

I wonder if the Carte Communale has been changed since you were granted permission… ask at the Mairie…

In my own Commune… this has happened… and where a permit has not been acted upon, permission has been withdrawn, in order to allow building elsewhere in the Commune.

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No nothing to do with Brexit!
It’s not unusual. Communes normally have a rolling four-year “town planning” plan, setting out which zones are constructible and which aren’t. The plan does change all the time, because the demographics change and the local and national economies change and the commune’s priorities change. That’s precisely why CUs are time limited, so that they can keep control of development (and also, to deter speculation). When a CU is issued you need to start building quite soon, it’s use it or lose it.
You can appeal but if under the current plan d’urbanism your land is in a non constructible zone, I doubt the decision would change. You can still sell the land but obviously you can’t sell it to be built on.

That’s assuming that the reason for refusal is simply the redesignation of the land. However as you say, your next step will depend on what reasons they have given you.

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Thanks for your replies Stella and Anna! It’s reassuring that you don’t think that it is to do with the political situation: it’s easy to get a little paranoid when you don’t know quite what’s going to happen.

The decision seems to be based upon the entrance we made to the plot: apparently it is unsafe because of poor visibilty, so we will have to go to the Mairie and ask how we can improve it. There is also a line I’m having trouble translating: “le terrain… n’est pas raccordé au réseau public d’électricité, et qu’une extension de 193 est à prevoir”: if it means that it hasn’t got good access to electricity, it’s a bit crazy because it’s directly on a main road through the commune, with neighbouring properties on either side which have adequate access.

If we can’t get the designation as a building plot I’m not sure what we are going to do: we will be completely stuck without the sale of this land.

Thank you both for your help!

Without seeing what document you have received… it is impossible to say what is going on. Why not go down to your Mairie, with said document, and ask them to clearly explain what is happening and why. They can surely find someone who can help with a translation… (I get phone calls all the time from my Mairie).

good luck

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That sounds a lot more hopeful! It sounds like they’re not refusing on principle, they’re simply taking issue with certain aspects.

The bit about the electricy is advising you that you will need to arrange 193 (metres, presumably) of cabling to be laid so you can connect to mains electricity (they don’t let you just tap you in to your nearest neighbour’s supply!). I think the company you have to contact about this is ENGIE.

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To get a CU there has to be a realistic chance of being able to get mains services connected, notably water & electricity. Just because neighbouring properties are connected it doesn’t mean your land would be able to be serviced via a simple “branchement”, at a cost of around 1300€. It sounds as if an “extension de reseau” is required, & if the figure of 193m is correct then it’s going to run into many thousands (the last one I was involved with cost 7K€).

Rules changed back in 2001 (I think) to prevent people getting CUs on places that then caused massive headaches for the utility providers i.e. the owner now has to make the terrain a realistic proposition before getting a CU & then selling it.

To get chapter & verse about the electricity you need to get a devis from ENEDIS. They do them for free, unlike the connection…

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Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for your info. I’m shocked that it costs so much money to get electricity connected. What’s so surprising to me is that there are power lines crossing the actual plot as well as it being next to a main road with power lines. I’ve no idea where this figure of 193m has come from. At least we know that Enedis will provide a free quote, that’s something, thank you, and thanks for the link.

We will go back to the Mairie on Monday and discuss it with them, but at least we know a bit more about what they might say!

Thanks Anna! Yes, you’re right: it’s a bit better than just a straight “No” :slight_smile: We’re just surprised that none of this was an issue - or even mentioned - when the first CU was granted. Ideally we would have got on with a build straight away, but our plans have changed so many times and now we just need to sell it as soon as possible, which is why it is so frustrating! Thanks for your help.

But that applies in so many spheres, presumaby also in the UK but certainly in France, you can’t just assume that because something was allowed under the rules 5, 4 or even 1 year ago it will be allowed now. Building normes for instance, plans submitted now need to meet a far higher standard of insulation and energy efficiency than plans submitted pre 2015 (or was it 2014). Same with cars, driving laws, tax laws, consumer laws, data protection laws but particularly environment connected things which in France are being tightened up all the time.

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Is it perhaps that they are factoring in the need to move electricity poles or even to bury them underground?
Your best bet is to get professional advice on board. A local maître d’œuvre who will be fully au fait with local requirements and can prepare the plans for submission to the planning people. If the house you propose is less than specific limits, you don’t need an architect which can come quite expensive…

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Not all power lines are the same. The ones you mention might be high tension (around 10kV) are no use to you without the addition of an expensive transformer. It’s easy to tell: if there are three distinct conductors on relatively high posts then they are high tension. If there are four seperate conductors or what looks like a thick bundle of twisted black cables then they are low tension i.e. suitable for domestic use.

It’s hard to say more without a plan of the site & info about the local grid. Talk to ENEDIS.

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As above 193m is probably the distance to the nearest transformer station where you can connect.
I was over hearing an interesting story a while back where an English man had paid 17k€ for an electricity supply to his new build only to find others in the area later connected for less than 500€ He complained to the company that they had connected to his supply and should share the cost only to be told it was the companies supply not his and he had just paid them to install it it did make me laugh imagining all the french owners waiting with no electricity for the stupid English man to pay up.

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Bonjour Chloe
I’ll answer your questions from what i remember from working 2-3 weeks in my local mairie, some 3 years ago. The Secrétaire du Maire is an Urban expert there, so she explained a few basic things to me at the time.
First of all, go to your mairie / phone them to make and appointment with “le / la responsable du PLU”. Ask for that person to explain the decision in detail : dates of PLU, the map of what is constructable , etc. and why & why not. Take notes in front of that person and get his/her name. Just to get the right info and that you understand what the score is. Nothing to do with Brexit, no. Anyway, it wouldn’t make sense.
You ask : Why on earth would the designation be different now when nothing has been changed since the last certificate was granted?
Is this possibly a response to Brexit? Is it possible that building plans are under more scrutiny than before if they are submitted by an English resident?
–> The Plan Local d’Urbanisme must have changed. Ask them about it. It is important. If nothing has changed about the Code de l’Urbanisme (that you can find on the net, btw), then you shoud have 18 month after that date when your land is still constructible, and to sell it this way too, etc… It’s a bit technical but not unsurpassable :wink:
Decided by the Maire & conseillers, the PLU can change, say, every 5 years or so if needs be. You will not get personal notification but when a change is made, it is put up on posters outside and sometime inside the mairie too, by law, for a certain amount of time. You might even find the notification on your Mairie’ s website.
In our village, the new PLU was challenge in court by someone who wanted to sell his land by developers. Year after year, it was denied because of the PLU stating that hhis land was not constructible. Well, he won his case because the reason for the new PLU was not “substancially explained” - just a wishy-washy explanation instead, about preserving the beauty of the area.
So our PLU had to be binned and the old one put back in place (2011), so nothing new for the poor guy, anyway.
yOU ALSO ASK : If the land is deemed “un-buildable” for habitation, do we have any options to sell it? We paid 2,000 to have the land transferred to our names based on the fact that it was worth 30,000 - now it is barely worth the price we paid.
–> Who sold you the land ? A notaire ? Private seller? Estate agent? the SAFER?
Challenge them on what they based their price on. If he/ she is a professional, they can do so and should do so ! If they can’t, they can be in trouble. Your choice.
Also, sorry to say, but “you should have made your own homework” and go to the Mairie to check everything about he land you were buying. If it’s agricultural or humid or preserved land (acc. to the PLU) you cannot build on it. If their is at least ONE old wall on it that furthermore appears on the CADASTRE, DO NOT DESTROY IT. It means that you can potential build more - or even extent a house / renovate a ruin + building an extension.
Contact the SAFER, specialised in selling properties in the countryside : http://www.safer.fr/
Also, if needs be, get help from a friend / a neighbour/ a professional “facilitateur” ( French/English “helper”) on the matter.
If you have a Protection Judiciaire - sometimes attached to your Assurance Habitation - you need to contact them for advice. Sometimes they can also assist with taking someone to court (paying part of an “avocat” fees). Sometimes the PJ is expensive but well worth it. I’m with Pacifica (from Crédit Agricole bank). They have been really good over the years.
Good luck with everything - I’m sure everything will be ok in the end, hang on there.
France is a damn challenge (I’m French :D) and if you are here, it was your choice :wink:
Let us know how it goes.
Christine Borrow, from Sunny – now anyway ! – Vendée

Do we have any way of questioning the decision to withdraw the building designation? I am in the process of translating the various reasons given for denying the certification, but if we are able to fix the items they deem to be problems, can we simply re-submit?
If the land is deemed un-buildable for habitation, do we have any options to sell it? We paid 2,000 to have the land transferred to our names based on the fact that it was worth 30,000 - now it is barely worth the price we paid.

The biggest problem for us is that we had been relying on the sale of this plot to help finance buying a house for ourselves: we are currently renting my mother-in-law’s house which is also on the market, so there is a slight urgency to all of this.

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@Badger, thanks for the info: the plot has domestic lines crossing it as well as the lines along the road it adjoins… but you’re right, we need to talk to Enedis. Part of all of this I think is that we probably didn’t follow the correct paths to get the land sold: we will have to backtrack a little and make sure we really are doing things the right way.

@James_Parman Yowsa, that’s a scary story: I can’t believe he paid it though…

@Christine_Borrow, thanks for all of your advice, it’s much appreciated. I don’t think the designation of the land has changed: it’s just that there are problems with the plot that I guess just weren’t picked up when we first applied for the CU, and obviously we can’t sell it at the price we need to without that. I understand that laws can change, but it’s just disappointing to have to start the whole dance of bureaucracy again. As you say, France is a challenge without fluency, and with my husband watching the political climate so closely it is easy to start to think our presence here may not be entirely welcome, despite the fact that we are so happy here. We will go and talk to the Mairie this week and hopefully get a clearer understanding, but it is very reassuring to have a better knowledge of what we need to do. Thank you!

Around Cahors (46) the communal zoning maps are being upgraded to multi-communal zoning (PLUI = Plan Locale d’Urbanisme Multi-Comunale).
Much stricter rules are being applied to the designation (destination) of plots of land.
The government is clamping down on building away from existing areas of habitation where services (water, electricity, sewage) need to be provided. The local council is responsible for this cost. Also there might not be enough water pressure for existing users on that network.
Anything ecologically unsound (North facing, on a steep hillside …) is being eliminated.
If this is the case, you will have had an opportunity to protest against any changes and a refusal will have been explained in writing.
It’s happening everywhere and mostly it’s affecting French landowners.
Brexit brings nothing but sympathy, as if all Brits are as “mentally challenged” as all the leave voters.

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