The act of changing the designation of agricultural land and converting it into building land involves a process of removing the land from the Land Register, and including it into the City, town or village plan. This process is regulated through a general (master) plan and detailed plans.
The change of designation of land is regulated by the Land Registry Commission, which has regional departments in all major cities, and also local departments in the regional towns and villages. For land lots bigger than 50,000 sq m the issue is dealt with at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The process in 6 steps:
Step 1 – Submitting Application
You have to submit an application to the Mayor at the Municipality where the land is located. You have to be owner of the land, or to have been authorised by the owner. In case of more that one owner, the application should be submitted on behalf of all individuals or entities which are entitled to right of ownership on the land.
In the application you ask the permission to make a detailed plan (PUP) which will show your intentions of what will be built on the land. You have to explain what the building will be like, and purpose it will serve. The detailed plan will be made by a certified specialist.
Your application is accompanied also by explanation about the name of the development to be built there, information on what activity will be performed in it, location, distance from main road, any other nearest buildings/developments, as well as the size and the layout of the development/s.
Step 2 – Plan Approval Process
The plan should have a statement of approval from the local utility companies, which will guarantee the possibilities of later connecting the property to the local infrastructure network-electricity, water and sewerage.
In order to have their approval, you have to submit separately application forms to each of the representatives of the utility companies in the region. Within a set period of time of between 1 and 2 weeks, each of them will issue the official approval that will be enclosed within your application to the municipality.
Step 3 – Other Documents
Other documents necessary for the regulation process:
· Drawing plan of the land plot on the name of the owner, as well as a situational plan from the local Land Registry department
· Statement from the Regional Inspection for Environment and water. In some cases you will also need to inform on the impact that the change requested by you of the designation of the land, will have on the environment
· Document stating the category of the land, issued by the regional Land Registry department. There are 10 categories of agricultural land, rated according to the arable qualities of the soil, the climate, relief, suitability for growing different crops, restrictions on land utilisation, etc.
· Statement on the irrigation status of the land
Step 4 – Receiving a permission from Mayor
The Mayor gives permission for the file then to be submitted to the commission of experts, who usually sits once or twice a month (varies for different municipalities). They discuss the application, look at all documents, and give their approval for a building site on the plot.
Meanwhile, if any of the documents has not been prepared according to the requirements of the municipality, the file will be held up. Therefore the person/company that is in charge with this will regularly keep themselves informed of the current status of the file, and follow closely how far it has progressed.
With the statement of approval from the commission, and the permission from the Mayor, the whole file is submitted to the regional department of the Land Registry. Within two months they have to announce their statement on the change of the land’s designation. Their decision has to be registered into the municipal office of the Land Registry.
Step 5 – Changing the designation of plot
It is important to know in advance the expenses that such a process will entail. If it is a matter of a large plot, you may not need to change the designation of the whole plot, but only of a part of it, for which there will be a permission to build.
First of all, there is the fee for the specialist who will prepare the detailed plan (PUP)
There are also government fees to be paid for the land which will be removed from the Land register. There is a special tariff according to which their amount is calculated. Generally, it depends on: the category of the land, as specified in the official document; the size of the plot which designation is being changed; the land’s location and functional type of the town/village/etc. according to a unified system of territory units in Bulgaria; type of development planned; irrigation facilities.
The fees also depend on the designation and the type of the development-commercial or production facilities, warehouses, administrative buildings, or resorts, tourist or sports facilities, residential or holiday villages.
Roughly speaking, the government fees for conversion of land of the 4th category is around 2,5 to 3 BGN/sq m.
Specialised companies/ providing this type of service will charge between 1 and 4 Euro/sq m for preparing the file and representing you during the whole process through to receiving the final document for the building permission.