Small but without limits

Member of the Bar of Dendermonde since 2020. Dutch, French en English; good comprehension German and Hungarian (Click picture for more information)

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Appeal period and an environmental permit

Start of the appeal period

1. The term for a third party (neighbor, local residents, interested organization, etc.) to appeal against a granted urban development permit with the Deputation is thirty days. This appeal period starts the day after the start date of the display of the permit.

2. After all, a granted permit must be displayed in accordance with the provisions of the Flemish Spatial Planning Code. The applicant must display the permit within ten days of receipt of the permit decision and must inform the municipal administration. The municipal clerk must monitor this.

However, certain municipalities issue a certificate of display on the basis of a 'declaration on honor' from the applicant, without actually controlling. It is therefore not inconceivable that the applicant declares on honor that he proceeded to display on a specific day, but that the actual display took place later, and therefore for a shorter period, if not at all.

Such conduct has the consequence that the possibilities for a third party to lodge an appeal with the Deputation are considerably restricted, in some cases even made impossible.

3. That is why the Flanders Department of Space has urged the municipalities to check effectively whether the display has actually taken place, following the case law of the Council for Permit Disputes.

The latter in fact ruled in several cases that in the event that the display certificate was drawn up purely on the basis of a declaration of honor, the appeal period did not start and the appeal was lodged by the third party in time. (RvVb no. A / 2011/0061, 4 May 2011; RvVb no. A / 2012/0396, 3 October 2012; RvVb no. A / 2013/0081, 19 February 2013; RvVb no. A / 2014/0634, 16 September 2013; RvVb No. A / 1516/0173, October 30, 2015.)

4. Moreover, the notice, if it takes place, must also be visible and legible from the public road.

The Council for Permit Disputes ruled that given the relatively short term for third parties to lodge an appeal, a regular, visible and legible notice is essential to safeguard the rights of those third parties. (RvVb April 5, 2016, A / 1516/0920).

5. Tips: If you know that your neighbor or a resident has submitted a permit application (for example following a public inquiry) and you notice that the work is being started, it is best to check 1) whether the display is present, 2) whether the notice is visible and legible.

If one of the two questions is to be answered negatively, then it is best to gather as much evidence as possible that shows that the rules of the Flemish Spatial Planning Code are not respected. This could include a statement from local residents, dated photos, but especially an official report from a bailiff that has an authentic evidential value for registration due to forgery.

As an applicant, it is especially important to ensure that the display is done correctly, in order to avoid being dragged into legal proceedings and to run the risk of the permit being refused while the work has already started or even are terminated.