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Full credit for this beautiful image of Meribel-Mottaret goes to Eole Wind.

Full credit for this beautiful image of Meribel-Mottaret goes to Eole Wind.

Fact 1: The planning rules & regulations in France are all grouped under the ‘Code de l’Urbanisme’¬†text.

Controls on construction in France are relatively detailed and permission to build usually has to be obtained for whatever you are building – be it small hut or large chalet!

Planning officers in France are not always responsible for the aesthetics of the building (that is the job of the architects…) but they are responsible for¬†ensuring that the planned project adheres to the various planning rules & regulations as previously mentioned.

Permission for building in France is granted under a ‘Permis de construire’ and this same document must also be obtained for work to be carried out on an existing building if the work would change the usage of the building, the exterior appearance or volume will change or extra storeys of the building are to be added.

However, the planning legal process in France operates under three levels – National, Regional and Local. The Local policy tends to build upon the requirements of the National and Regional policies to ensure all of the bases are covered.

Here in Meribel the main type of local plan used is the PLU document which outlines the specifics of building in the local area here (Height, distance to boundaries, type of roofing material, extensions/additions allowed etc). The PLU replaced a document known as ‘Plans d’occupations des sols’.

Fact 2 – The COS has been abolished!

Until recently one of the PLU specifications was a limitation known as ‘COS’ (Coefficient d’occupation du sol) this was a measure of the amount of total habitable space (also known as SHON – surface hors oeuvre nette) which would be allowed on the land.

To translate this into a working example – An owner who had a plot of 1000 m2 with a COS of 0.2 would be allowed to construct 200 m2 of habitable space (SHON).

However with concern about lack of housing in France the COS has been nationally abolished to allow more and larger constructions there is potential for greatness…!

As long as the property adheres fully to the PLU with it’s other restrictions as to height etc. there is no longer a COS restriction on the amount of habitable space that owners can now create. This means that there is potential for owners to create much larger properties than they would previously have been able to.

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