4. Project design
4.1. Execution. Compliance valuation
Execution and approval of the project’s design is a precondition for commencing the construction works for all construction projects with the exception of category VI projects.
The design’s scope depends on the specific project and it should be stipulated in a written contract, signed between the investor and the designer.
Project designs must be subjected to a valuation of their compliance with the detailed development plan, the territorial development norms and regulations, the legal requirements concerning construction works, the requirement for coordination between the separate parts of the design and for completeness, and the structural integrity of the engineering calculations.
Compliance valuation for projects in category I or II must be made by a consultant (different from the designer), who issues a report on its findings. In addition, the structural part of the project design must be evaluated by a structural engineer and the compliance of the requirements for energy efficiency must be executed by traders entered into public register maintained by the Energy Efficiency Agency.
In lower construction categories the consultant’s activities can be performed by the municipal Expert Council. In practice, this option is not utilized frequently.
4.2. Approval of the project design. Validity
Project designs must be approved by the respective administrative bodies before commencement of the construction works. In general case the competent body is the chief architect where the real estate is located.
For the purpose of getting an approval, the investor must present to the competent authorities the design itself, the compliance valuation report, preliminary agreements with the utility companies for connection to their technical infrastructure networks, as well as approvals/assessments from the controlling authorities (e.g. fire safety department, sanitary inspection agency, environmental authorities), if such are necessary.
Environmental impact assessments are required for real estate projects in two cases:
• for projects which are presumed to impact the environment, such as chemistry factories, oil refinery, thermal power plant, etc., and
• for projects impacting existing protected areas (reserves, national parks, etc.) or existing and potential protected zones (Natura 2000).
Protected areas are designated to conserve biological diversity in ecosystems and natural processes occurring in them, as well as typical or unusual non-living natural features and landscapes. Protected areas represent national parks, nature reserves, natural monuments, natural parks and protected sites.
Natura 2000 is an ecological system of protected zones in the European Union, namely zones for the conservation of wild birds and zones for the conservation of natural habitats. As an EU Member State, Bulgaria must comply with all relevant EU legislation and directives, including EU Directive 92/43 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and EU Directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds. The requirements of both directives are included in the Bulgarian Biodiversity Act adopted in 2002. The criteria for including the separate land properties in the protected zones relate to the ecological characteristics of the region and are based on the scientific analyses, research and prognoses.
The chief architect of the municipality where the real estate is located approves the design or refuses the approval within 7 days after submission of all required documents, or 1 month – in the event that the compliance valuation was not made by a consultant.
The approved project design serves as grounds for the issuance of a construction permit. The investor may apply simultaneously for this with the submission of the design for approval. The approval of the design loses its validity if within 1 year the investor has not applied for a construction permit.
The refusal to approve project designs can be appealed by the investor before NCSD within 14 days after the refusal.