Urban Planning Issues

In Spain, there is not a central planning authority. The Ministry, the Autonomous Communities and the Municipalities are involved in the process of granting planning permission and in general any improvement or alteration to your property requires some form of permission. Furthermore if you intend to fell trees you need to ensure that they are not protected, if you chop down certain trees without permission you will face legal consequences.

If you are improving the value of a legal and registered property the local authority will require you to pay to them certain taxes for the privilege of upgrading your home; so changing the kitchen or bathroom which you may consider as an insignificant issue will attract the attention of the local ayuntamiento. To ensure that you do not fall foul of local planning laws you should always ask before you start any work on your property. You will probably be asked to submit a project – with the appropriate fees and taxes to the town hall – small jobs may only require a licencia obras menores – small works licence, but construction of an extension, terrace or new building etc will require a full building licence –licencia obras mayores. You should never start any construction work until you have the required paperwork stamped by the competent authority because if you do you run the risk of being denunciado – reported to the relevant authority – being fined, having the work stopped, possibly being refused the permission which may have normally been granted and having the work that you have carried out demolished – at your expense.


All projects are to be presented to the competent authority in the manner that they prescribe, small works in general requires you to declare the nature of the work, the construction company that you intend to use, an invoice detailing the cost of the required works – you are taxed on a percentage of this value. For major works a detailed project completed by a registered architect will be required, this project will include all the paperwork expected by the competent local authority to include costings – upon which you will be taxed.

Your licence will either be granted or refused; if the latter and you consider the decision to be incorrect you can appeal. Details of the appeal procedure should be granted with any refusal.

Remember, do not start any construction work without the relevant permissions granted and all the paperwork in place. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse in Spain!

Always, after having carried out permissible property improvements such as rebuilds, extensions, terraces etc have your Escritura updated to include the declaration of obra nuevas – new works, should you wish to sell your property at a later date you will not have problems with the backdating of such a declaration. This declaration is dealt with by your local Notary.

For a major project that involves building a completely new property on urbanised land a full project will be required by the local ayuntamiento. This will require the intervention of a fully registered architect, who will collate all the required information and provide drawings and costings in the required format. The architect should oversee the whole of the construction works to the granting of the Licencia de Primera Ocupación and Cédula de habitabilidad licences granted by the local authorities that confirms the property can be assigned to its legal use ( a dwelling) and that it is constructed to a certain standard fulfilling basic health and safety obligations, constructed on land that allows legally for such construction and that the developer has fulfilled his commitments to the urbanisation of the surrounding land. Without the Licencia de Primera Ocupación and Cédula de habitabilidad you should NOT occupy the property as it is not a legal property and you may find that the local authorities will impose certain sanctions on you – fines, legal action, imprisonment, the impounding of your property and the possible demolition of the property – all at your cost!

Constructing a legal property in Spain is not inexpensive – professional fees, substantial taxes to pay to the local authorities, construction costs, the application of services such as electricity, water, gas etc all of this should be borne in mind before you decide to construct your own home in Spain.

You may be one of the very many people who have constructed an illegal property on land that has not been classified as constructible and you will not have received your Licencia de Primera Ocupación and Cédula de habitabilidad for obvious reasons – you should seek urgent assistance for your Planning Solution.
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