ECEʼs planned mall lacks permit, says commissioner

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Just one day after German property developer ECE announced plans to build a EUR 200 million shopping center in the Óbuda district in Budapest, Kristóf Szatmáry, the government commissioner for trade policy, says the development will not happen in its present form since it lacks the necessary construction permit.

Christoph Augustin, the head of ECEʼs local unit, told journalists in Budapest Wednesday that the mall would be built on the site of a former textile factory in District 3 of the capital, with a leasable area of 52,000 square meters and room for 170 businesses.

However, the announcement would appear to be premature, as Szatmáry told business daily Világgazdaság Thursday that, in the absence of a valid construction permit, the plaza will surely not be built in the proposed form.

"Yesterdayʼs announcement was misleading," he said, explaining that the developer only holds a permit from 2013, which is overridden by new regulations in force since the beginning of 2015. The latter, commonly known as the "plaza stop" regulations, ensure sustainable development according to guidelines themselves based on EU laws, he added.

Accordingly, Szatmáry noted, the entire process of obtaining a permit needs to be begun again from the beginning, meaning that effectively nothing may come of the project which ECE announced for completion by 2021.

The commissioner stressed that had the company already begun work based on the 2013 permit, then it would be able to claim the latterʼs validity;  however, because this did not happen and the investor had not requested a new permit after 2015, the newer regulations invalidate any exemption from the "plaza stop."

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