Building a home in France: plans to ease rules to split plots of land

‘If only 1% of people in detached homes do this we would have a potential 160,000 more homes,’ said the prime minister

France’s prime minister plans to make it easier to authorise the division of plots of land
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Homeowners on large plots of land should be able to split their plot more easily in order to free space for new homes under plans announced by the government to ease the housing crisis.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal called the housing situation “urgent” on a visit to a building site in Villejuif (Val-de-Marne) on February 14 and promised “to fight centimetre by centimetre” and “tooth and nail” to find space for new homes.

The housing market in France is currently in crisis, with massive drops in sales in most areas, falling prices and hundreds of estate agents going out of business.

Read more: MAP: See house price changes near you in France in new notaire data

In particular, the prime minister said that he plans to ease the administrative burden on local planning authorities to let them authorise the division of plots of land.

“If only 1% of people in detached homes decide to do this we would have a potential 160,000 more homes,” said Mr Attal.

Homeowners can already split their plot under certain conditions, however this is subject to approval by the local authority, who themselves are subject to certain restrictions.

The local authority cannot, for instance, authorise plot divisions for building homes that are contrary to the local planning rules, or plans locaux d’urbanisme (PLU), which govern, among others, building density, land use and construction size.

Mr Attal says his government will ease this process by “giving mayors a free hand to authorise constructions without altering their PLU”.

At present, the modification of a PLU requires a favourable vote from the municipal council and in many cases takes around 8 months.

However, the president of the building federation la Fédération française des constructeurs de maisons individuelles, Damien Hereng has called the plans “absurd”.

“It’s the local authorities themselves that write the PLU,” he told Le Monde. “Elected officials will not want to break the rules that they make themselves. For me, these plans are just a communication exercise”.

Loïc Vandromme, CEO of Hexaôm, France’s largest builder of detached houses, added another note of scepticism, telling Le Monde that 60% of its business already comes from building on divided plots.

Read more: MAP: See house price changes near you in France in new notaire data

‘We will build more and build taller’

Mr Attal also announced plans to allow for taller buildings in Paris and “from 2025 in all the cities of France”.

At present, the PLU in Paris limits the height of new buildings to 37m.

“We will continue to build,” said Mr Attal. “In particular, allowing certain buildings to be taller. There will be investment, including state investment, in the Ile-de-France region.”

To further ease to housing crisis, the prime minister also announced that a total of 30,000 new homes, 1% of which would be low-income housing, would be built, with 1,500 each in:

  • Villejuif (Val-de-Marne),
  • Versailles (Yvelines),
  • Dunkerque (Nord),
  • Dieppe (Seine-Maritime),
  • Toulouse (Haute-Garonne),
  • Bordeaux (Gironde),
  • Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône),
  • Nice (Alpes-Maritimes),
  • Saint-Etienne (Loire),
  • Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin),
  • Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine),
  • Nantes (Loire-Atlantique),
  • Pays basque (Pyrénées-Atlantiques).

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