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Building regulations: From Loi Allur to PLU 1 February 2017

Building regulations: From Loi Allur to PLU - Like everywhere else in the world, also in France there are building regulations - mostly for the sake of the public, sometimes for the annoyance of individual concerned parties. We have been talking to architects in and around Saint Tropez to understand how the communities deal with the new regulations of the "Loi Allur" and what is behind them.

“Loi Allur”: New construction regulation are still in implementation

Already since March 2014 it is official - the new building law "Loi Allur". Nevertheless, cities and municipalities are still involved in the implementation. It was caused by a growing need for housing - especially in the cities. As the living space became increasingly scarce, the new regulation allowed to build "more". On the one hand, the minimum size for building plots ceased, on the other hand the building coefficient COS (Coefficient d'occupation des soll) has been abolished, which has regulated the maximum living space. As a result, many owners have applied for building permits to expand their houses.

Consider local requirements

Although the considerations for the creation of additional living space are comprehensible and reasonable, municipalities and cities are obliged to make a local decision on the extent to which the region is able to implement the newly created open space. The peninsula of Saint Tropez belongs to a region in France, which also preserves its value due to the fact that architectural blunders has been largely avoided in the past and that the houses fit into the landscape and the coastal strip. A quasi “carte blanche” concerning the object size would have enormous, negative consequences for the region.

Modern Architecture in Ramatuelle, For Sale STHF1676SC

PLU offers design possibilities 

Municipalities have the possibility to limit the legal scope through the PLU (Plan local d'Urbanisme). In concrete terms, this means for the peninsula of Saint Tropez, that local building codes will continue to restrict the legal framework. The municipalities of Saint Tropez, Ramatuelle and Gassin have not yet passed their PLUs. The new appointment suggestion is the month of September. But it is already apparent that other limitations are sought, that could compensate for the elimination of the COS. Therefore, the cultivatable surface (Emprise au sol)  is currently discussed in conjunction with larger distances to the property line as well as maximum building heights. Alternatively, it would also be possible to restrict the volume of  living space.

Dealing with building applications

Building owners, who submitted their building applications shortly after the commencement of the “Loi-Allur-Act”, could profit from the loosened building regulations and received building permits. Quickly, however, the building authorities stepped on the brake and only approved building applications in accordance with the old regulations. Currently, the approval process is rather prolonged, probably until the adoption of the local PLU for a future uniform application under the new rules.

Wooden House in Ramatuelle, For Rent STHF5044R

Keyword Ecological construction

The need to deal with resources more carefully is also being seen more and more in France. Therefore, the DPE (Diagnostic de Performance Énergétique) was introduced in the real estate sector years ago. It informs the owner or buyer about the current energy consumption of the property. In the construction sector itself, first projects could be found, that uses wood as a building material. Even though wooden houses are still rare in the South of France, they offer many advantages: Lower construction costs, a warm and comfortable feeling and a higher energy efficiency with corresponding insulation.

Keyword solar energy

Actually, it would be only logical if every house in the sun-drenched South would have solar energy. Currently however, the municipalities on the peninsula of Saint Tropez reject solar panels for aesthetic reasons. This could and will change if solar panels are available on the market in other forms or designs. First approaches are recognizable: For instance, Elon Musk presented his new project to build solar roof tiles in October 2016. They should make the houses look “familiar” and "please" the inhabitants. It's wouldn’t be a surprise, if a Tesla stood in the garage, which of course also gets its energy from the roof ...

Photo: Tesla


In summary, the communities on the peninsula of Saint Tropez continue to work on preserving the beauty of the region. With a view to the stricter building guidelines, it leads to resentments among owners in individual cases. In principle, however – viewed from a distance and with goodwill - the rather restrictive approach leads to preserving the value of  real estate in this unique region, which will hence continue to attract enthusiasts of the French way of life.

Caroline Simon

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