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25 August 2023

Redefining Montenegrin Spatial Planning and Construction Regulations

Montenegro intends to implement a profound shift in its spatial planning and construction regulations with the pending adoption of three distinct legal acts that will regulate the country’s spatial planning, the construction of facilities, and legalisation procedures.

A departure from the previous practice, where these three areas were consolidated under a single 2017 Spatial Planning and Construction of Facilities Act, emerges from the shortcomings of the current legislation, which was marked by ineffectiveness and numerous implementation challenges.

One common feature of the Construction of Facilities Act [in Montenegrin: Zakon o izgradnji objekata], the Spatial Planning Act [in Montenegrin: Zakon o planiranju prostora] and the Legalisation of Illegal Facilities Act [in Montenegrin: Zakon o legalizaciji bespravnih objekata] is the substantial redefining of the roles and duties of numerous stakeholders traditionally involved in Montenegrin spatial planning and construction processes. A particularly noteworthy feature is the incorporation of the Chamber of Engineers of Montenegro into these legislative acts, fostering a more cooperative and synergistic approach between the regulatory requirements and practical needs and expectations. Moreover, these acts promise a significant augmentation of authority for local municipalities, empowering them with amplified capabilities, especially concerning the issuance of urban technical conditions and corresponding consents and approvals.

As per the current draft of the Construction of Facilities Act, the building/construction permits [in Montenegrin: građevinska dozvola] will be reinstated as a mandatory prerequisite for all construction undertakings. This represents a major departure from the current legal solution, where construction permits are exclusively mandated for complex engineering facilities. Furthermore, a particularly noteworthy proposal involves a significant shift in the role of the Chief State Architect, who is set to assume a strategic role in overseeing the construction of facilities exceeding 5,000 square meters.

The current draft of the Spatial Planning Act emphasises the decentralisation of spatial planning processes by formulating and implementing spatial documents on both national and local levels.

The draft of the Legalisation of Illegal Facilities Act presents a strict procedure for the legalisation of facilities constructed without the pertinent permits. As outlined in the draft, individuals who have constructed, reconstructed, extended, or expanded facilities without a building permit or other document authorising construction, or contrary to said document, will be afforded a six-month grace period (starting from the entry into force of the new law) to initiate registration procedures within the competent cadastral registries. This requirement refers to buildings constructed on both private and state-owned land. Should this stipulated timeframe elapse without compliance, the competent inspection authority will be empowered to render a decision mandating the removal of the illegal structures. Local self-government units will be tasked with overseeing legalisation for structures up to 500 square meters. For larger structures or those in protected zones, a special administrative authority will be established under the law.

The proposed Legalisation of Illegal Facilities Act also introduces a uniform payment approach, under which the corresponding land purchase fees for housing units can be settled in up to 360 monthly instalments, while the fees for other facilities can be paid in up to 180 monthly instalments.

The draft acts were made available for public debate for 40 days which ended on 27 June 2023. With the conclusion of the public debate, the drafts will now be refined in line with the obtained feedback, and subsequently, the legislative procedure within the National Assembly will be initiated.

The forthcoming legal framework promises to refine spatial planning, streamline construction permitting processes, and address the intricacies of legalising illegal facilities. Consequently, all stakeholders engaged in ongoing or prospective construction projects must pay close attention to the proposed legislative revisions, as these modifications could significantly impact their intended endeavours and the overall project dynamics.

author: Ivana Panic, Luka Veljovic