Sofia's industrial building permits on the rise

Sofia's industrial building permits on the rise

The number of industrial building permits in Bulgaria's capital has started to grow, which is considered an encouraging sign for the country's economy, Sofia's chief architect, Petar Dikov, said at the Construction and Property forum.

The new permits increased by 20% in annual terms in the first six months of 2010, according to data of the National Statistical Institute (NSI).

For January to June 2010, Sofia granted a total 76 permits for projects categorised as "other buildings" with a gross area of some 37,000 square metres, against 55 permits for buildings with a total space of 31,000 square metres in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Proceeds from issuing construction permits have reached BGN 15 million since the beginning of 2010, with office buildings and commercial centres contributing for the bulk of the sum, Dikov said.

Meanwhile, frozen residential projects are now being unblocked, Dobromir Ganev, head of consultancy GVA Sollers Solutions, noted.

According to Ganev, the number of frozen projects in the country approaches 290, which span a total six million square metres, over 50% of which feature commercial and office space.

The number of suspended projects in the capital totalled 81, spread on two million square metres combined, works on 250,000 square metres of which are currently coming to completion.

Projects unblocking hinges on the country's macroeconomic indicators, in particular foreign investments, banks' lending policy and competition, Ganev said, adding that foreign direct investments in Bulgaria's construction sector have declined 1.5% so far this year against 2009.

The country's construction output has dwindled 23% compared with 2009 and 68% against 2008, which is the largest drop among the members of the European Union, according to Svetoslav Glosov, chairman of the Bulgarian construction chamber.

Glosov also expressed hopes that the construction segment will start to recover in the coming years, but at a slow pace.