Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Building near a historic monument?

Proposals are before the French parliament to ease the potential restrictions when applying for planning permission to build or renovate a property that is located close to a historic monument.

Currently, the consent of an architect from Batiments de France (equivalent to English Heritage) has to be sought and his decision is final. The new proposals plan to make this consent purely advisory in some cases, to the dismay of many local authorities anxious to preserve France's valuable 'patrimoine', as well as architects from Batiments to France.

M Frédéric Auclair, president of the association of architects of BdeF has pointed out that his members oversee some 500 places in France classified as of special historical interest, and deal with some 400,000 applications annually. Of these only 10% are rejected outright, and the majority are allowed subject to often minor alterations to the building plan submitted.

As part of a widespread reaction against the government's proposals, some regions are actively considering the establishment of protective zones which would consider planning applications in sensitive areas similar to those managed by Batiments de France.

The 200 architects employed by Batiments de France are part of the French ministry of culture, and their role is to help protect and preserve sites considered of special historic interest.