Corona crisis and Urban law in the Brussels Capital Region

Update on 17 April 2020


The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has also adopted a decree suspending all mandatory deadlines and appeal deadlines, as well as all deadlines whose expiry has legal effect.

The planned suspension initially lasted one month and ran from 16 March to 15 April 2020.

However, the government had the option to extend this period twice for the same duration by a decision in which it justifies the need to do so in the light of developments in the corona crisis.

In the meantime, the government extended this period to 15 May 2020 for the first time, and then to 15 June 2020. 

1. What exactly are the deadlines that will be suspended?

This concerns all deadlines for which non-compliance will result in a penalty. For example:

  • The issuing of planning permits in accordance with the new Brussels Urbanism Planning Code (COBAT), because the application for a permit is deemed to be refused if the decision of the authorised official is not taken within the required deadline;
  • The deadline for appealing with the government ;
  • The deadline within which the Urbanism Planning College must issue its opinion or the deadline for a decision by the authority issuing the permit.

But this also concerns the non-binding deadlines. More specifically, the deadlines that have legal consequences upon their expiry. For example:

  • Article 175/6 of the COBAT provides that the permit applicant may submit his file to the government if the accompanying committee in charge of the impact study does not make its decision known within the prescribed deadline;

Deadlines whose failure to comply with this provision has no legal effect will continue to run.

2. Does that mean that the whole permit system is at a standstill?

The Region already indicated this is not its intention. Public inquiries and consultative committees cannot take place, but the authorities are able to take measures that are compatible with the measures taken to combat the Coronavirus, for example :

  • Sending acknowledgements of receipt;
  • the solicitation of notices of proceedings;
  • If the authority in question is functioning, it prepares and issues opinions, although the period within which they must be issued is suspended;
  • the invitation to introduce modified plans in accordance with Article 191 of the COBAT;
  • or the granting or refusal of the permit if a public inquiry is not required.

Applicants for a permit do not necessarily have to remain inactive either.

Incomplete applications may be completed, allowing the applicant to receive an acknowledgement of receipt of the entire application or, where appropriate, modified plans may be submitted after the public inquiry and/or the opinion of the consultation commission has been completed. All this must be done by registered mail.

As from 2 April 2020, Urban.Brussels also is organised electronically. Applications can be submitted digitally and project meetings can be organised by video and audio conference.

3. What else has been decided?

General assemblies, neighbourhood committees, support committees and steering committees in the framework of the development and implementation of urban revitalisation tools cannot meet.

With regard to the premiums for housing renovation and façade embellishment, the following deadlines will be suspended :

  • the period during which the applicant has to complete his file;
  • the period during which the work can be carried out.

With regard to the right of pre-emption, the deadlines are suspended for :

  • the adoption of the pre-emptive perimeter by the government, if the applicant has introduced an appeal;
  • the completeness of the file relating to a sale subject to the right of pre-emption;
  • the decision of the holders of the right of pre-emption as to whether or not to exercise it;
  • the notification to the transferor of the decision of the holders of the right of pre-emption.

In the case of a sale by public auction subject to the right of pre-emption, the above-mentioned mandatory deadlines must be suspended.

Would you like to learn more about this subject?

Contact our experts or telephone +32 (0)2 747 40 07
Koen de Puydt

Koen de Puydt

Aline Heyrman

Aline Heyrman

Senior Counsel