On March 28, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted an amendment to the Sofia Development and Construction Act (the “Act”), which changes the height limitations of buildings in certain zones of Sofia, and has sparked heated public discussions among architects, developers and residents.
Earlier discussions resulted in multiple amendments to the initial Act made between the first and the second hearing in parliament. The final Act became effective on 13 April 2018, and includes the following changes to development and construction in Sofia:
New restrictions on the height of the buildings have been introduced in certain areas. Buildings cannot be higher than 50 meters in the city center and 75 meters in other parts of the capital. Buildings under Vitosha Mountain should not exceed 15 meters. Amendments to the Act provide that buildings located 400 meters area around metro stations in “mixed multiple functionality zones” can, with exceptions, be up to 100 meters high.
Some zones (eg "zones for structural engineering”) will have no height restrictions. The Sofia Master Development Plan will determine these zones. Public discussions on the amendment to the plan outlining these zones are expected to start in 2019.
Detached buildings in neighboring corner plots
Previously, the main development parameters of a plot – construction density (ie the percentage of the total floor areas vis-à-vis surface area) and construction intensity (the ratio between the built-up area and the surface area) – were not restricted for detached buildings on neighbouring corner plots. This often resulted in the artificial splitting of plots to achieve maximum height, and to avoid development limitations in an area. Currently, the general rule in Sofia is that the existing construction density percentage for the area cannot be exceeded in those plots. The construction intensity can be increased by a specific percentage, depending on the plot size (the larger the plot, the smaller the percentage). Also, in certain areas (low construction residential areas or in an adjoining plot larger than 3000 square meters) the development parameters cannot be exceeded in neighboring corner plots.
A new rule now requires that all buildings higher than 50 meters or in a built-up area exceeding 20,000 square meters should be secure in terms of transport accessibility. Developers must prove (by means of simulations or analysis) that there will be no issues related to a building’s transport connection. With traffic in the capital already heavy, authorities must consider a newly proposed building’s effect on existing traffic. The wording of the Act is broad in terms of how transport accessibility will be secured. More specific regulation is to be provided by an ordinance of the Sofia Municipal Council to be adopted within six months after the passage of the Act.<
Projects that have already been approved will not be affected by these amendments.