Tourism Development in the Greek Countryside

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This third article in the Land Development in Greece column series focuses on the building potential of land plots located outside the boundaries of urban areas and settlements.  The information in this article is essential for anyone considering purchasing raw land development in Greece for small or large scale development projects. We outline the pre-requisites for a plot to be “build-able” and   discuss the raw land development potential for tourist attractions   in the countryside.

Tourism construction projects in the countryside. Some criteria to consider.

– The land plot needs to satisfy the minimum required plot area.

– The land plot needs to face a country road. The side facing the country road also needs to satisfy a minimum specified length.

– The Gross Building and Coverage Areas define the plot’s building potential.  In other words the total area inside the building envelope and the ground floor area respectively. These two factors provide a first picture on the overall development potential of the land plot.

– Other mandatory, specific to location, conditions that are found in regional development plans. These plans also provide information on land usage, protected zones and development zones.

Options for developers.

Current regulations on Raw Land Development outside defined boundaries of urban areas or settlements provide four options for developers, considering that the above criteria are met.

a. Private residences only.

For example holiday homes or permanent residences.

b. Tourist Resorts only.

For example visitor accommodation such as hotels.

c. Mixed-use resorts.

For example, a combination of private residences and a tourist resort.

d. Private Development.

In this fourth option the developer can produce a “personalised” masterplan for the land plot with unique building requirements.

 
Each of the above options is defined in more detail below.

Residences or Tourist resorts

A bill passed in 1985, updated in 2003 and then again in 2011, states that  to develop  Private Residences or  Tourist Resorts the minimum plot area needs to be 4000 square meters (0.4 hectares). However a new law on Tourism Development introduced in 2009 made an exception for certain zones in Greece.

– For developed tourism areas the minimum plot area required is 15000 sq.m. (1,5 hec)

– For developing tourism areas the minimum plot area required is 8000 sq.m. (0,8 hec)

– For metropolitan areas the minimum plot area required is10000 sq.m. (1 hec)

It is important for an investor before proceeding with a purchase to check if the land plot is located within any of the exceptoin zones. Also important to note is that the minimum area for raw land development of a plot located within a protected environmental zone (such as NATURA 2000) must be at minimum 10000 square meters (1hectare).  This legislation applies to all land plots that exist from 2011 onwards. The land plot’s side that faces a country road must be a minimum 25 meters in length or 45 meters if it faces a motorway or provincial road. For land plots located by the seaside, the minimum distance of the building from the sea shore must be at least 30 meters for residential houses and 50 meters for tourist resorts.

It is worth mentioning that this bill brings forth favorable conditions for the build-ability of a land plot that exists prior to 1985.

Mixed Use Resorts

In August 2011 the Greek Parliament passed a bill on Tourism and Leisure Investment for Mixed Use Resorts. A mixed use resort is a combination of private residences as well as a tourist accommodation, all located on the same land plot. For a land plot to qualify for the mixed use resort option the following conditions are required:

– The land plot’s area must be over 150,000 square meters (15 hectares)

– If the tourist accommodation consists of a hotel then it must hold a five star rating

–  Every private residence must have a minimum area of 100 square meters.

The developer could then sell the private residences or rent them for a minimum of 10 years.

For  the development of private residences, tourist resorts or mixed use resorts the licensing procedure consists of the following stages:

1. Approval of Land Plot’s suitability to build

2. Approval of Environmental Impact Study

3. Approval of Architectural Designs

4. Building Permit

5. Operating License

Private Land Development

This is slightly a different matter. The developer  of a land plot with an area larger than 50000 sq meters (5hec) can follow a fourth route which is that of private development. In this case for the specific land plot the building conditions, land usages, public spaces, building spaces and water and electricity infrastructure must be defined in detail on a masterplan. The mastreplan needs then to first, be approved by the local town planning authority for its residential suitability and second, by the Ministry of Public Works. Once approved, it is then published in the Government’s Gazzette and the investor can officially proceed with the construction process. Due to the various approvals required the private development option is normally a lengthy process.                                         

Conclusion

Each region in Greece has its own development plans that define land usage, protected zones and development zones. These regional plans, in addition to the criteria mentioned at the very beginning, need to be carefully investigated before proceeding with a purchase. Finally, buyers should also check with the local forestry and archeology offices whether this plot is characterized as unsuitable for building purposes.  If no such decision exists they should consult with these two offices before proceeding with any purchase.

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