Distance of buildings from borders: we look at the homogeneous area, not the intended use


Emma Potter

The management of legal distances for buildings with respect to property boundaries represents a complex and fundamental issue in the field of urban construction.

There sentence no. 9264 of 22 March 2022 of the Court of Cassation has raised new food for thought on how these rules should be applied, especially in relation to homogeneous areas and the intended use of buildings.

This case highlights the need to fully understand local zoning regulations to avoid disputes and fines.

Let's look at the case in detail.

The context of the case

The case examined concerns an owner condemned to modify the position of a building, located in a homogeneous zone E (parts intended for agricultural or forestry uses), which did not comply with the minimum distance of 7 meters from the neighbor's border, who had also obtained compensation for the damage suffered.

The owner's heirs, not agreeing with the decision, appealed to the Court of Cassation.

They contested the decision on the basis that the municipal regulation, through Article 22 of the NTA of the Municipality's General Development Plan, did not specify a mandatory minimum distance from the boundaries for buildings in the area in question.

The dispute was further complicated by the fact that the building, originally intended for agricultural use, had been converted for residential use, obtaining an amnesty which, however, did not influence the rules on distances from the applicable borders.

The decision of the court of cassation

With the sentence no. 9264the judges of the Court of Cassation have clarified a fundamental aspect in the regulation of distances between buildings and borders: the rules to be applied must derive exclusively from the urban planning instruments in force in the specific homogeneous area where the building is located, regardless of its intended use .

This ruling contradicts the position taken by the Court of Appeal, which had interpreted the regulation based on the actual intended use of the building rather than the area to which it belongs.

The Supreme Court underlined that adopting a criterion based on the intended use of the building could lead to application inconsistencies, creating unequal treatment between owners of similar buildings located in the same homogeneous area but intended for different uses.

Furthermore, the Court reiterated that, according to consolidated jurisprudence, the rights and duties of owners are defined by the specific regulations of the homogeneous areastrengthening the principle of uniformity and predictability in the application of urban planning rules.

The point of view adopted by the Supreme Court therefore establishes an important precedent that could influence future disputes related to building distances, ensuring that decisions are guided by a homogeneous interpretation of local regulations rather than by ad hoc assessments relating to the current function of the buildings .


The ruling of the Court of Cassation of 22 March 2022 represents a crucial point of reference for the interpretation of urban planning regulations relating to the distances of buildings from borders. This case emphasizes the importance of following the provisions of local urban planning instruments, which prevail over other considerations relating to the intended use of buildings.

For construction professionals and landowners, this decision highlights the need to carefully check local regulations before proceeding with any construction or renovation, to avoid possible legal disputes and fines.