Prague to end daylight rule

A requirement for direct sunlight in new flats is being dropped

Prague is preparing an amendment to the building regulations that will change the requirement for direct sunlight. The current rule has been ineffective and difficult to implement, according to experts. In place of the current rule, the changed rule will specify how much window space a flat should have.

A rule that took effect Aug. 1, 2016, called for direct sunlight has to fall on one-third of the floor area of a flat for 90 minutes every year on March 1.

The sunshine regulation should be replaced by a daylight regulation that would require occupied rooms to have windows. According to the draft amendment, the sum of the area of all windows should not be less than 1/10 of the floor space of the room. The amendment is due to enter into force in October 2018.

The demand for direct sunshine is absurd, according to Prague Institute for Planning and Development (IPR) director Ondřej Boháč. “Builders are forced to design buildings with strange shapes and orientations to meet the [sunlight] norm, creating … strange floor plans that cannot make a meaningful piece of town,” Boháč said.

Flats that do not comply with the sunlight rule are sold as studios, but they are used for housing. This defeats the purpose of the rule.

Boháč claims that the new rule will still protect consumers.

“Flats will continue to be bright and healthy for living. The standard of sunshine … just makes it impossible to build a pretty town," Boháč said.

The daylight element would still require a sufficient separation of buildings from each other.

Prague building regulations are intended to allow for the construction of a sustainable city with trees in the streets and new buildings that respect the character of their surroundings.

Each new or refurbished 12 meter-wide street should have trees. There should be no unnecessary underpasses and overpasses. Barrier-free transitions are encouraged. The height of new buildings is also regulated.

The process of getting a building permit in the Czech Republic is one of the most complex in Europe, and it is often cited as the reason for a lack of new flats being constructed in the country and in Prague in particular.

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