The Ministry of Local Administration and Services in the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib is attempting to regulate the construction sector after the widespread destruction caused by the earthquake on February 6, 2023. The Ministry is working to subject new construction operations to the Syrian building code and its annex related to earthquakes, imposing strict administrative and technical oversight mechanisms and increasing fees and taxes on construction work.
The Ministry has transferred the powers of the Engineers Syndicate to the Directorate of Engineering Affairs in the Ministry, which has become responsible for reviewing the engineering studies for any new construction, as part of the permit process. The Directorate is responsible for rejecting engineering studies that do not comply with construction conditions, Ministry advisor and engineer Said Al-Ashqar told The Syria Report’s correspondent.
The Ministry has set five different criteria determining the final building permit fees, including location, surrounding streets, regulatory nature, type of establishment and general description of the building. However, the Ministry has not yet officially published the fee values. Meanwhile, a correspondent for The Syria Report quoted local sources as saying that the new fees for residential building permits reach up to $3 per square metre of construction.
The Ministry has prohibited permits for common-ownership lands and required land partitioning before permitting construction on such properties.
According to Ashqar, the technical phases of building homes and public facilities begin with an architectural and structural engineering study, submitted by a supervising engineer to the competent municipality to obtain a permit. The Directorate of Engineering Affairs then audits and certifies the study, returning it to the municipality, which in turn grants the building permit. Afterward, the municipality and the supervising engineer oversee all stages of implementation.
Throughout all these stages, adherence to this building code system is necessary. This system consists of administrative decisions issued by administrative units that determine the necessary conditions for building, repairing and demolishing structures within the limits of the administrative unit. Each administrative unit issues its own specific regulation, in line with the zoning plan and the nature of the area.
The Ministry has divided the building code system into two parts: regulation within the zoning plan and regulation outside it. In both cases, certain conditions must be observed, the most important of which are adherence to the minimum land area to be built on, the number of storeys, the area of the facades and compliance with the minimum storey height.
Building regulations outside the zoning plans are classified into three sections: first, a protection area for the detailed zoning plan from any informal urban expansion, where building is prohibited.
Second are agricultural areas outside the zoning plan, where building is allowed on land smaller than 200 square metres. If the land area is less than 4,000 square metres, construction is allowed with a two-storey system, with the maximum area for one storey at 100 square metres. If the land area exceeds 4,000 square metres, the area of one floor should be 160 square metres. In all cases, a facade for the building must be left at a distance of 10 metres at the front, and five metres for the other sides.
The third type of area outside of zoning plans are the rocky mountainous areas. Ministry of Local Administration Decision No. 370, issued on August 21, 2023, stipulates that the minimum area of the partition to be built upon in such zones is 200 square metres, and the width of the front of one partition is 12 square metres, with facades of three metres on all sides. The regulation added details about the building conditions in this case, such as the number of allowable storeys if the property overlooks a street according to its width, the total height of the storeys, and the facades. Commercial and industrial construction, various investment projects, and residential suburbs in rocky mountainous regions are exempted from this building regulation system to be considered separately.
The Ministry also issued Circular No. 14 on June 1, treating all properties under construction as existing buildings, meaning their owners must obtain a new construction permit.
Authorities allowed legal settlement for law-violating buildings inside or outside of zoning plans, as well as the obtainment of official construction permits. The main settlement condition is that a committee consisting of three engineers must submit a structural safety report about the building to the Directorate of Technical Services in the Ministry.
Even earlier than that, on May 17, 2023, the Ministry issued Circular No. 8, specifying the required documents to complete the administrative transactions related to permits and settlements as follows: a real estate registration statement proving ownership, along with a copy of the identity of the land or building owner, a survey plan with a statement of neighbouring properties, a topographical statement, and a general site drawing.
Circular No. 9, also issued on May 17, outlined the administrative procedures for permits and settlement, whereby the reception office in the municipality receives the request, ensures the accuracy and completeness of the documents, and forwards the request to the technical department in the central municipality for verification. This department also conducts a preliminary technical inspection and transfers it to the Directorate of Technical Services in the Ministry of Local Administration and Services.