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Revolution in planning - consultations are underway!

10 of January '22

A revolution in spatial planning is in the pipeline: among other things, the replacement of the zoning study with a general plan, tightening of development conditions and new planning tools. For one more week, comments can be submitted on planned amendments to the Spatial Development Law as part of an online pre-consultation. They were announced by the Ministry of Development and Technology, which is responsible for the amendment.

The youngest generation of architects is basically unfamiliar with a different planning system than the one set forth by the deeply imperfect July 2003 law. It took eighteen years to mature a thorough revision of its provisions. Indeed, contrary to earlier intentions, there will not be a completely new document, because, as Deputy Minister Piotr Uściinski declared in November:

it is too ambitious an undertaking and may simply fail.

At the same time, he declared that the deep modifications are intended to make it easier for municipalities to prepare new plans and amend those already enacted.

The amendment to the existing law would take effect on January 1 of next year. The changes promise to be revolutionary, and their details can be found in documents published on the ministry's website. Unfortunately, in a rather unconvenient form: for this is a bill amending the regulations, but without proposals for consolidated texts, which would allow one to learn the target content of the documents in one go. However, much is clarified by reading the information contained in the pre-consultation, in which you can participate until January 17 by filling out a questionnaire on the website:

Goodbye to the study?

The most important modification is expected to be the replacement of the study of land use conditions and directions by a return to the general plan, which was abandoned almost 19 years ago (the draft regulation on the municipality's general plan is also available on the ministry's website). This document is to be much simpler and, very importantly (unlike in the case of the study), it will have the rank of local law, with which the conditions for development and land use will finally have to comply. The role of the latter is to be essentially limited to supplementing existing intensive development. The ministry also proposes that, like a building permit, conditions will be issued for a fixed period: three years. It is also planned to

to limit the area analyzed for WZ decisions to selected functions, in particular for residential development and service development excluding trade(...)

The plans also include a new planning tool: an Integrated Investment Plan with the rank of a local zoning plan, which, as the originators declare

will be a form of local plan adopted at the request of the investor, dedicated to large and complex investments requiring coordination of the investment process between the municipality and the investor.

It is intended to be an improved version of the regulations introduced by the so-called housing speculative law of 2018. The enactment of the ZPI will be preceded by the signing of an urban planning agreement, which will establish the terms and conditions of the investment and the parties' obligations. Public consultations will be included in the process of passing the document, which - also in the case of normal local plans - are to be closer to the procedures adopted in the so-called Revitalization Act of 2015. To streamline the adoption of plans, the consultation period is to be shortened to 28 days. Existing mpzp will remain in force and under its current name, although a year ago - when the intention to amend it was announced - it was referred to as a "development plan."

register later

There are also plans to prepare a full, transparent and free online information system for all planning documents in the country called the Urban Register. As the explanation reads, it is expected to include

documents generated during the preparation of planning acts, reports on public consultations, administrative decisions related to spatial planning or decisions of supervisory bodies.

The regulations on the Urban Register and digitization of planning documents would come into force later: in 2026.

The calculation of the planning feeis also to be changed. Under the new rules, its amount is to be fixed: 30 percent of the value of the property. Importantly, the amount due would go to the municipality's coffers after the plan is passed, and not at the time of the sale of the property. To sweeten the deal, the legislator proposes to spread the amount in installments over thirty years. The "poorest", as officials put it, would be exempt from the fee, but without specifying the threshold at which that poverty begins.

The pre-consultation questionnaire on the Ministry's website is an open document: it allows people to formulate their opinions freely. To fill it out you need to enter your e-mail, your profession and place of work. Significantly, the list of professions indicated for selection lacked the item "architect." Fortunately, it is possible to enter the profession in the "other" position. All the more reason to fill out the questionnaire to emphasize the importance of the architectural community's voice in the creation of the new law.

Jakub GŁAZ

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