Road-building permits (permission de voirie) aim to improve the safety of road users with respect to temporary or permanent structures set up alongside public roads (motorways, national and local roads).
Who is concerned
Any natural or legal person planning to carry out development or construction works on, above, underneath or alongside a state road must apply for a road-building permit from the competent Regional Service at the National Roads Administration (Administration des ponts et chaussées).
A road-building permit is required for any construction, planting or other works carried out on property bordering the road at a distance of less than 10 metres from the solid line on the edge of the public road. This distance is increased to 25 metres for national roads.
A road-building permit is also required for interventions underneath, above or alongside a public road that is part of the state's main road network, a bypass of an urban area or a section of road connected by an interchange to the normal state road network.
Works other than those provided for by law may only be carried out at a distance of 25m from a motorway or expressway, respectively 15m for bypasses of conurbations and road sections connected by an interchange to the normal state road network.
Planned developments outside these limits and developments as listed below carried out within these limits are not subject to a road-building permit provided that they are carried out in compliance with the authorised procedures:
- putting up road signs and painting road markings within agglomerations;
- painting white pictograms representing road sign symbols within agglomerations;
- putting up signs with the names of streets and public squares;
- placing fire hydrants and markers signalling water supply covers;
- putting up signs marking tourist trails and pedestrian circuits as well as road markings signalling communal bicycle lanes;
- installation of removable advertising signs mounted on tripods or wheels, placed in front of a business during opening hours;
- putting up the advertising signs of architects, engineering consultancies and businesses working on a building site which can be either on the private or the public part of the road;
- putting a container for demolition debris in a public or private place but not on a road;
- putting up satellite dishes;
- putting up house numbers and fixing letterboxes to existing plinths.
Specialised intermediaries (engineering consultancies, architects, etc.) can offer assistance with regard to the formalities to be completed with the administrations.
In the case of developments or structures within the stipulated limits, 2 types of road-building permit are possible:
- ministerial road-building permits in the following cases:
- the construction or transformation of houses alongside a road;
- the development of housing estates and business parks alongside the road;
- the construction of service stations;
- the placing of road signs and directional road markings;
- road works on road foundations;
- the laying of underground infrastructure below or beside roads;
- direct road-building permits in the following cases:
- various structures for farming or forestry purposes to be carried out outside the urban perimeter;
- temporary structures related to a construction site;
- redevelopment and transformation works on existing structures;
- underground infrastructures;
- advertising signs;
- road facilities.
Businesses planning to carry out infrastructure works along public roads, namely works concerning telecommunication, gas, electricity or water networks, etc., can consult the National Road Works Register before submitting their application for a road-building permit.
The register enables a business to check if someone else has already planned a project on the same plot of land and hence to coordinate the infrastructure works is order to achieve cost reductions by sharing the costs based on an agreement between 2 or more concerned businesses and other interested parties.
How to proceed
Preparing the application
Each application for a road-building permit must be accompanied by the following documents:
- a recent extract from the land register of the parcel of land concerned;
- a plan of the project (scale of 1:1000 or 1:500) showing the development or construction works with respect to the public road: this plan must show the full width of the public road with precise horizontal markings indicating the different traffic lanes (normal lanes, bus lanes, bicycle lanes), parking lanes and sidewalks;
- where applicable, a longitudinal cross-section of all the car entrances (individual and collective);
- an extract from the general development plan (PAG) including the graphs, legend and extract corresponding to the written part of the general development plan for planned developments and constructions on the periphery of towns as well as for business park or housing estate projects;
- where applicable, a plan of the facade facing the public road and a plan of any other facades with garage entrances;
- where applicable, a plan of basements or levels on which individual or collective garages are located;
- for transformation works:
- either 2 plans, with one showing the current situation before the works and the other showing the situation after the planned transformation;
- or the indication, on a map, of the nature of the work.
For large-scale projects likely to result in significant traffic to and from the area, the preparation of a traffic study may be required. Similarly, for any construction requiring significant excavation work, geotechnical studies or assessments may be required.
Authorisation in principle
For some projects subject to a ministerial road-building permit, it is possible to previously apply for an authorisation in principle.
The following projects are concerned:
- business parks;
- housing estates;
- groups of houses, and;
- individual houses, in exceptional circumstances.
The authorisation in principle lays down the guidelines for a given project such as the building line of constructions or the type, number, width and inclines of entrances. It does not authorise the construction but allows for more in-depth and refined studies to be carried out, in particular where several authorisations are required.
At this stage in the procedure, more detailed information, such as traffic or geotechnical studies, etc., may be requested.
The authorisation in prinicple is valid for 2 years. However, a final road-building permit is required before work may start.
Direct or ministerial road-building permits
After obtaining the information and documents required, applicants must send their road-building permit application to the competent Regional Service of the National Roads Administration.
Requests for motorways (A) and expressways (B) should be sent to the Highways Operations and Traffic Management Division (Division de l'exploitation de la grande voirie et de la gestion du traffic) of the National Roads Administration.
As soon as the application is received, an acknowledgement of receipt indicating the number allocated to the dossier and the name of the person in charge of the dossier is sent to the applicant.
Where applicable, each modification requested by the National Roads Administration must be added to the project.
A 3-month investigation period should be expected.
Applications for direct road-building permits are normally processed within one week.
Validity of the road-building permit
Road-building permits for development works with a definitive purpose are valid for a period of 2 years. Within this period, the beneficiary of the permit must have commenced and terminated the authorised development and construction works.
A road-building permit may be extended only once. The request for an extension must be introduced within 3 months following the expiration of the validity period indicated on the road-building permit.
The road-building permit does not release the applicant from having to obtain any other permits that may be required, in particular when purchasing land or a building:
- a building permit;
- an operating permit for classified establishments (called 'commodo/incommodo' authorisation);
- an authorisation with regard to the protection of nature;
- an authorisation with regard to water extraction or disposal or works close to a watercourse;
- a deforestation / clearing permit;
- an authorisation with regard to installing a commercial business sign or advertising panel;
- a permit for developments or works alongside a railway line.