Leiden, The Netherlands

The Dutch Brace Themselves for the New Environment and Planning Act

By Floris van Galen and Paul de Lange, TeekensKarstens advocaten notarissen

On 01 January 2022, the new Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) will come into effect in the Netherlands. It is the largest legislative operation the Dutch government has ever undertaken.

The Environment and Planning Act is aimed at combining and simplifying regulations for spatial and environmental projects. Currently, development and land-use projects are regulated by dozens of laws and hundreds of regulations. Each law and each regulation has its own procedures, competent authorities, and requirements. This makes it diffcult for companies to start building projects in the Netherlands. All of these laws and regulations will be incorporated within one law, four general administrative orders, and several Ministerial regulations.

In line with the Dutch Government’s mantra “decentralised, unless,” zoning plans will still be made on a municipal level, unless they relate to a specific provincial or state interest. An improvement, however, will be that the new Act will oblige municipalities to have only one zoning plan (Omgevingsplan), instead of the current situation, where some municipalities have dozens of different zoning plans. The new law makes it possible to regulate more on a local level: for example, the amount of energy a building is allowed to consume, or the possibility to authorise a range of different forms of land use in advance, provided that certain locally applicable limit values are not exceeded. The new zoning plan will be made easily accessible through a map-based internet portal. Although zoning plans in the Netherlands have been electronically available through a central website since 2010 (www.ruimtelijkeplannen.nl), it is a major challenge to translate all the new instruments the new Act provides to its electronic version.

Furthermore, the new law will ensure a “one-stop-shop” to get a permit. Although the Dutch government have combined several different permits into one “omgevingsvergunning” since 2010, land developers still had to apply for different permits at different competent authorities: municipality, province, and/or national government. The new Act ensures that only one authority will rule on all the permits needed to start a project.

Whether regulations are really made simpler is to be seen. With thousands of pages, the new law will be a lawyer’s paradise. Government offcials, lawyers, judges, and developers will need time to become familiar with the new law and its instruments. Zoning plans will be even more custom made on a local level. Because of this, more research is needed in each municipality to decide which rules apply to your project.


Floris van Galen

Floris van Galen

GGI member firm
TeekensKarstens advocaten notarissen
Law Firm Services
Leiden, Alphen aan den Rijn, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
T: +31 71 535 80 00
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W: tk.nl

TeekensKarstens advocaten notarissen (TK) provides clients with no-nonsense and high-quality legal advice and support in corporate and commercial matters.

Paul de Lange, Associate, is part of the TK Real Estate and Property Development Team, led by Floris van Galen, Partner Public Real Estate Law. They both specialise in administrative, environmentaly, zoning and planning law. Paul is also a Guest Lecturer at the Administrative Law Department of the University of Leiden.
Paul de Lange

Paul de Lange

GGI member firm
TeekensKarstens advocaten notarissen
Law Firm Services
Leiden, Alphen aan den Rijn, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
T: +31 71 535 80 00
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: tk.nl


Published: Real Estate Newsletter, No. 12, Autumn 2020 l Photo: frankrooimans - stock.adobe.com

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