An All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects

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An All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects

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The Dutch Act 'Wabo' that lays down the rules for granting an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects. The Act enables members of the public and companies to use one transparent procedure to apply to one competent authority for permits for activities that impact on the physical environment. The Act replaced around 25 former separate permits for such matters as construction, spatial planning, listed buildings and the environment by a single one-stop-shop permit covering all activities.

An All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects

The Act has created one overarching procedure for granting permission for projects like the construction, alteration or use of a house or building. There is now one permit, one procedure and one set of submittal requirements, followed by one legal remedies procedure and enforcement by one authority. Applications may be submitted electronically to the Online Portal OLO. 24 hours a day. They will be processed electronically asfar as possible.

The Act gives applicants considerable freedom in arranging the process of requesting a permit. In principle they may decide whether to apply in one go for a permit that covers all their activities, or first to apply for a permit for one activity or a few activities and later for the other activities. An example is an application for permission to cut down trees, followed by an application to demolish some structures and then an application to ready the sites for construction work. Successive landowners can then request planning permits to build one or more houses, a retail building, company building, school, etc., for example.

Besides the integrated permit procedure (i.e. one application for several activities), the Act regulates coordination. Government authorities involved in the application are required to cooperate with each other to take one harmonised decision, issued by one competent authority.

Competent authority

For applicants one authority is competent to issue permits. The Act has ended the system whereby the applicant dealt with several authorities for various permits. In most cases the mayor and aldermen now hold authority to grant or refuse an All-in-one Permit. In a few cases, the provincial executive or relevant minister holds this authority.

One portal, one digital application form

The Act introduces one-stop-shopping for applications for All-in-one permits. Before submitting an application, the applicant can first check at the Online Portal whether permission is required for the intended work and activities.

The application form will be compiled automatically based on the answers. This form is standardized nationwide as far as possible and may be submitted digitally together with attachments like construction plans and drawings. The application will automatically be routed to the relevant competent authority, which will then give information about the further procedure, decision-making and costs.

Permits procedure

The Act embodies two procedures for granting a planning permit, i.e. a standard procedure and an extended procedure. The standard procedure applies to the most common projects of a simple nature. The extended procedure is for projects with complex environmental or fire safety aspects. The two procedures have been aligned with the generic regulations of the General Administrative Law Act as far as possible and also contain some additions and amplifications.

The decision-making time under the standard procedure is 8 weeks, which may be extended once by 6 weeks at most. As the decisionmaking time is a deadline, a missed deadline will automatically result in issue of a permit (under the principle of lex silencio positivo). The All-in-one Permit will then be granted in conformity with the application.

The extended procedure requires the competent authority to decide within 6 months of receiving the application. This period is extendable once by 6 weeks at most if the subject is highly complex or controversial. A permit will not be automatically granted if the period of 6 months (or the extended period) is exceeded. The All-in-one Permit granted under this procedure will take effect on expiry of the time allowed for appeals.

The Act provides two types of legal remedy in the standard and extended procedures. Decisions taken under the standard procedure may be challenged by means of an objection. An application for judicial review may subsequently be lodged with the district court, thereafter it is possible to lodge an appeal with the Council of State. In the case of an extended procedure, stakeholders will be given an opportunity to respond to the draft permit. Applications for judicial review of subsequent decisions may be lodged directly with the district court and appeal then lies to the Council of State.

Enforcement

The authority competent to issue the All-in-one Permit will be responsible for enforcement of the permit and other regulations named in the Act under administrative law. In a small number of situations, a different authority has been designated to enforce certain matters. Requirements have been laid down to promote the quality of enforcement. The Act further regulates the minister’s supervision of performance and enforcement of the All-in-one Permit system.

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Mostly no environmental permit

Most companies do not require an All-in-one Permit for the environmental aspect. The Activities Decree and possibly other environmental regulations are applicable to them. If a company does require a permit, then a part of the Activities Decree is applicable.