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EXPERT TALK: building permits could be faster

The UPSI-BVS is a professional union for the real-estate sector, with its members representing 80% of the real-estate development market. From a recent study among its members, it appears that it is taking longer and longer for building permits to be granted. Some dossiers have delays of up to ten years.

Political promises

Pursuing a building permit is an arduous process. At the moment, this is partly due to the corona crisis. But the many appeal procedures add to the difficulties. It goes without saying that long, drawn-out procedures have a negative impact on the financing costs and inevitably lead to higher sales prices. Both the developer and the buyer suffer.

Flemish minister for the Environment, Zuhal Demir (N-VA), recognises the problem. She has promised to recruit new judges to the council for permit disputes. She is determined to improve the administrative appeals process. Environmental effects reports will be simplified too. All well and good, but just how realistic are these promises? And what will happen for developments outside Flanders?

At hooox, we believe that as a project developer, you have control over the speed of your building permits. By taking a different approach to a project, you can avoid a great deal of opposition and save yourself time.

The current approach may lead to resentment

For a development following the traditional processes, speed is a huge benefit. Think about it: the clock starts ticking the very moment you acquire a landholding (or the rights to develop) because the bank wants you to start making loan repayments. As a result, you quickly take on an architect or an urban development expert to draw up a financially viable design that meets the requirements of urban-planning laws. You then submit your plans to the local council. In the best-case scenario, you run an information session to inform stakeholders about the added value of the project. There are a few difficult issues raised, but the design is already far too advanced to go making changes. The result? Frustration.

The lack of fair and objective discussion before the design phase often leads to the development being rejected in advance—regardless of how many benefits it might offer the neighbourhood. Look at the not-in-my-backyard phenomenon that emerges every time there are plans for an environmentally friendly wind farm.

How can you avoid the frustration?

  • STEP 1: Study the potential of the land with the urban-development expert. Take all the legal and financial parameters into account. You then create a framework inside which everyone can continue to work.

  • STEP 2: Identify the stakeholders and ask them about the needs of the neighbourhood and how your development can add value. At the moment, there is still not any talk of a design. The framework is being better set out, in consultation with all stakeholders.

  • STEP 3: Your process coordinator will use a set method to make a design within the realms of freedom permitted. By doing this, you maximise public support for your project.

How does hooox support you?

Step 2 is the most difficult for many developers. And this is where hooox performs as an external party, supported by experienced professionals who understand how to put diplomatic stakeholder management into practice:  

  1. We identify all stakeholders and set up a powerful communication campaign to involve as many people as possible in your project.

  2. We take a neutral approach when questioning the stakeholders.

  3. We (digitally) involve all stakeholders in the writing of a collectively supported future plan. This future plan maps out all expectations and needs. It is the foundation of Step 3 and the secret weapon with which you convince even the greatest sceptics.

Are you involved in a reconversion project? Then we advise giving your project a temporarily different purpose. Work closely with the local community and local council, selecting attainable events with cultural, sportive or commercial goals that fit within the values of the project.

In short, transparency and objectivity are crucial. You do not want your efforts to be interpreted as a trick used to convince your opposition to agree to your project. You want them to see that your development is an investment in the future of the neighbourhood.

Would you like to know more?

Would you like to receive advice from our experts to market your new project? We are happy to help!

Contact us

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