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The Planning and Building Law (Amendment No. 120) Bill - “The Pergola Reform”

During the coming weeks, we will bring you a series of articles dealing with this Bill, which is in the most advanced stages of approval.

Before we discuss in detail a number of specific innovations in the Bill, we will describe its general essence.

Planning and building processes in the State of Israel are regulated under the Planning and Building Law, 5725-1965. Over the years a great many changes to this Law were adopted, a not insignificant number of which came to resolve specific problems.

Whereas a most substantive change was introduced in 1995 to the Planning and Building Law (Amendment No. 43), which brought about, among others, a certain level of decentralization of powers to the local planning committees, it too did not bring about the required improvement in planning and licensing procedures.

In the period that has passed since Amendment 43 was introduced to the Law, several steps were put forward to introduce substantive changes into the Planning and Building Law, and including, in 2010, the bill proposed by the Government for Planning and Building Law, 5770-2010 (the “Balconies Reform”), which was intended to replace the Planning and Building Law. The legislative processes for this bill were terminated and never matured into legislation.

In the framework of the current Bill, it is suggested to carry out, as a first step, substantial reform in two key areas of the Planning and Building Law - the planning area and the licensing area. The treatment of additional areas in the framework of the law, and including its general provisions, will be evaluated later on and will be made as additional phases to the reform required in the Planning and Building Law.

The key objectives proposed in this Bill in the chapters on planning and licensing are:

Decentralization of powers to the local planning committees, while creating a hierarchy and a division of powers between the local committees and the regional committees in a way that will allow the acceleration of the planning processes and an improvement in the service to the public.

According to the proposal, decentralization of powers to the local committees will be done in a gradual manner and is conditional on the conduct and professional abilities of the committees. A hierarchy and distinction are proposed between diverse local committees - an ordinary local committee, an independent local committee and a special independent local committee.

A reduction in the length of time required for the lawful approval of plans. In this framework, it is proposed to determine, among others, a maximum timetable for approval of plans, while granting authority to transfer the plan to a high planning institution for discussion, if a planning institution does not meet the required timetable. It is also proposed to establish a fast track to take plans forward under the authority of the local committee - namely, limited plans in terms of their scope and impact.

The streamlining and improvement of licensing processes and the control over the execution of construction in these ways:

The creation of a hierarchy and distinction between licensing tracks for permits, including: a full licensing process, a fast-track licensing process, and works and uses that will be exempt from a permit.

Determination of the various tracks will be made according to the different characteristics of the building or the use and while setting timescales and mechanisms whose objective is to ensure that the licensing authorities meet the set arrangements.

The establishment of control institutes to oversee the design and implementation of construction, with the goal of optimizing the control system on licensing and construction and to promote the quality of construction. In this framework, the powers of the various authorities, vested in them by law, regarding the issuance of permits, will be transferred to the certified inspectors in the control institutes, who will concentrate these powers.

The streamlining and acceleration of licensing processes for infrastructure construction, through the implementation of various amendments to the law, including expansion of the possibility of establishing additional infrastructure according to the track that exists in the law today with regard to the construction of roads and highways, through the issuance of a notice to the local authority and the local planning committee or by the provision of authorization.