Urban renewal: Ombudsman welcomes legislative changes

The Ombudsman welcomes the repeal of the Exceptional Temporary Regime for Urban Rehabilitation, which exempted the application of various technical building standards without any justification, and welcomes the legislative amendments that now require the seismic assessment and reinforcement of buildings, as well as compliance with technical building standards, in particular accessibility.

The new legal framework, published today in Diário da República, incorporates suggestions from this state body, reflecting a positive advance in the requirements of comfort, livability, accessibility, fire safety and earthquakes of the buildings to be rehabilitated.

Against the previous legal regime, which allowed the execution of urban rehabilitation operations without prior evaluation and without reinforcement of the conditions of seismic resistance of the buildings, the Ombudsman – in line with the Order of Engineers – argued that an evaluation of the conditions of resistance of buildings to be rehabilitated in order to avoid perpetuating the fragility of older buildings that inherently have structural weaknesses.

The Exceptional and Temporary Urban Rehabilitation Juridical Regime also dispensed with any scientific, technical or legal justification for non-compliance with certain technical norms, namely, on architectural barriers that, from the outset, should have increased protection, not only for the benefit of the residents. people with motor disabilities, but also of older people who live mostly in the historical nuclei and families with children. It also allowed the remoteness of minimum living areas, ceiling height, elevator installation, acoustic requirements, energy efficiency and thermal quality, gas installations and telecommunications infrastructures.

The new legal regime, now approved by Decree-Law No. 95/2019, of 18 July, only admits to waive compliance with some technical and regulatory standards in duly substantiated cases. A report on seismic vulnerability assessment, as well as the possible seismic reinforcement of buildings, will always be required, adopting the Structural Eurocodes following the Ombudsman’s suggestions.