Concept on land use and construction licenses

The concepts of land use and construction licenses are documents of frequent consultation and request for purposes of knowing and consolidating the urban situation of the buildings. However, there is a tendency to confuse these two concepts, so it is necessary to clarify what their functions and their differences are.

What is a land use concept?

According to the definition contained in numeral 3 of article 51 of National Decree 1469 of 2010, it is a “written opinion by means of which the urban curator or the municipal or district authority competent to issue licenses or the planning office or whoever acts as such, informs the interested party about the use or uses permitted in a property or building, in accordance with the urban planning regulations of the Territorial Planning Plan and the instruments that develop it.” The foregoing translates into the concept of land use is a document that informs what use could be given to a property according to its geographical location, in accordance with the provisions of the relevant current standard.

 What is a construction license?

In turn, the same Decree, in Article 7, provides that the construction license is “the prior authorization to develop buildings, circulation areas and communal areas in one or more properties, in accordance with the provisions of the Plan of Ordering Territorial, the instruments that develop and complement it, the Special Plans of Management and Protection of Assets of Cultural Interest, and other regulations that regulate the matter. Construction licenses will specifically specify the uses, build ability, volume try, accessibility and other technical aspects approved for the respective building “. The above means that the license is, effectively, a permit to build on a property, including all the technical specifications to which the construction is conditioned.

 What are they for?

In general terms, the concepts of land use are a necessary requirement for the operation of commercial establishments and the issuance of environmental permits, among others, and are also used by individuals to know what use can be given to a given property, in accordance with the regulations in force at the moment of the issuance of the concept; that is, they are the result of a query made to the competent authority. On the other hand, construction licenses are a prerequisite to raise a building on a property, under penalty of being subject to urban sanctions, which can even lead to the demolition of buildings that are made without a license or exceed what authorized by said administrative act by the competent authority. Equally, construction licenses certify the use that can be given to the property on which they have been requested, in accordance with the regulations in force at the time of request, but with future effects. In this way, if the use based on which the license was granted changes, the property can still be given initial use, provided that the regulations governing such uses are complied with.

What is the difference between the concept of land use and the urban license in terms of the use that can be given to a property?

Both the land use concepts and the construction licenses establish the land use of the properties on which they are requested. In the case of licenses, the use in them determined is the one that allows the applicant to build a building and give it this use, it grants rights acquired on his property.

The concept of land use, for its part, not only does not grant any right to its applicant or the owner of the property, but, additionally, cannot modify rights that have been conferred by a license. Thus, a concept of land use is an act that has no validity, that is merely informative and not binding of the use that the current regulations establish for a given property, without taking into account its previous uses; whereas a construction license is an administrative act that is issued for a specific period (and may be extended or not according to the need of the applicant), that grants a permit or authorization that must be fulfilled as it was granted, and that continues to have Future effects regarding the use of the property, in case of changes in the regulations.