Italy’s regions press ahead with Piano Casa

June 14th, 2009 | by Ainsley |

Italy’s regions are pressing ahead with their implementation of Silvio Berlusconi’s Piano Casa – his relaxation of planning regulations that now make it far easier for homeowners to increase the size of properties by up to 20 per cent.

The regions have exercised great freedom in implementing the agreement reached with central government in April over the plans, which aim to revive the construction sector – and the property for sale in Italy market – by bringing in a greater volume of extension, demolition and reconstruction of homes.

In different parts of Italy, renovation and rebuilding work has been allowed not just on detached or semi-detached houses but in some cases entire apartment blocks, with little heed of the size limits Mr Berlusconi envisaged.

This has certainly been seen in the Venice real estate sector, where the Veneto region passed draft legislation that preceded Mr Berlusconi’s initiative. It has also been true for Sicily property, where regional authorities have exercised almost total autonomy over the interpretation of the Piano Casa.

The various regions’ plans extend far beyond residential property. Tuscany, the only region with a fully enacted law in place, has remained strict. But in virtually all the other six regions to have already brought in a draft bill – in particular for property in Umbria, Campania and Piedmont – the 20 per cent size expansion will be allowed even for residential buildings that contain shop and/or office premises.

In Umbria, the provisions of the Piano Casa have also been extended to renovation work on buildings used solely for craft and/or industrial purposes. Veneto, meanwhile, will also allow its provisions to cover the demolition and reconstruction of buildings and factories.

The April agreement dictates that renovation and reconstruction under the Piano Casa must also improve the energy efficiency of buildings. But the requirements vary from one region to the next.

To enlarge a property in Piedmont, for instance, one must the building’s primary energy requirements by 40 per cent. In Lombardy, however, all that is required is a 10 per cent cut in heating consumption. Sicily and Veneto, meanwhile, impose no such strictures.

Another delicate issue is over Italy’s medieval centres, where the agreement states building sites cannot be set up. But even here there are two exceptions – Sicily (where work can begin with approval from local authorities) and Veneto (but municipalities can block construction work in some areas).

Then there’s the compromise adopted in Lombardy, where owners of residential properties that are out of kilter with the dominant architectural style of the area can be knocked down and rebuilt, again once permission is granted by regional authorities.

Similar provisions exist also in neighbouring Piedmont, the difference being that non-residential properties can also be knocked down and rebuilt for the same reasons as in Lombardy. Again this is dependent on an OK from local comune authorities.

In Campania, meanwhile, every building that undergoes extensive reconstruction under these plans will have to submit an “identity card” detailing its specifications. This has been done with April’s Abruzzo earthquake in mind, where even new buildings were found to have been flimsily constructed.

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