Let’s initiate our discussion with the current definition of a ‘commencement notice’ found in the Development Planning Act, namely:
‘… a notice submitted by the perit on behalf of the applicant to the Authority at least five (5) days prior to the date of commencement of works or of the utilization of a permit, to notify the Authority of the date of commencement of works or of the utilization of a permit.’
From this definition, a “commencement notice” refers to a notification presented by the perit, acting on behalf of the applicant, to the Planning Authority at least five days before the planned start date of construction and also ‘the utilization’ of granted permission.
Further on, the same Act goes to state that ‘… if the applicant fails to submit the commencement notice relative to the permission, such development permission shall be considered as never having been utilised’ (proviso to Article 72(4)).
This latter condition is quite clear, and it implies that a “permission” will become void if the commencement notice is not submitted to the Planning Authority. However, I would like to suggest (based on legal reasons, not personal preference) substituting “permission” with “Full Development Permission excluding other types of permissions such as DNOs and Regularization Permissions”. However, this topic warrants a separate discussion.
In the meantime, it’s crucial to emphasize that the definition of the commencement notice mentioned earlier is relatively recent, as it supersedes a previous one, which formerly stated:
‘”commencement notice” means a notice submitted by the perit on behalf of the applicant to the Authority within the period of five days in advance to the date of commencement of works or utilization of permission, to notify the Authority with the date of commencement of works or utilization of permission, including the name of the licensed builder, the perit and the site manager as defined in the site management regulations, indicating their contact details where they can be reached at any time’.
It is now evident that the previous requirement, which mandated the inclusion of the licensed builder, perit, and site manager’s names as defined in the site management regulations, along with their contact details for immediate access, is no longer necessary insofar as the Planning Authority is concerned. These particulars are, in fact, mandated by the Building & Construction Authority.
Yet, activating a planning permit can be crucial to establish a foothold in the realm of “vested rights”, although it’s important to note that this is a complex subject governed by various parameters outlined in other provisions within the Development Planning Law.
When pursuing this path, it’s equally imperative to ensure that the previous planning permits issued for the site, if not have been acted upon, are of no use.