Warsaw will not pass a new study that has been under development for half a decade. The abandonment of work on the document is related to the adoption by the Parliament and the President of Poland of amendments to the Law on Planning and Spatial Development. The study will replace the General Plan. But is there anything to wait for?
The current Study of Conditions and Directions for Spatial Development of Warsaw was developed between 2003 and 2006. The document, which is supposed to set the goals of the capital's spatial policy, became outdated years ago—which was confirmed in May 2018 by the City Council, justifying a resolution to proceed with the development of a new Study. The updated document would be in line with the current strategy for the city's development until 2030, actual spatial conditions (the city's development often contradicts the current Study, as it does not have the force of local law), and would better respond to the challenges of the future.
The Stdium, which will not come into force, was expected to influence the shaping of the spatial structure of the
© UM Warsaw
The document currently under development, the contents of which we learned from a leak by the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection, was finally put out to the public in June 2023—five years after the document began to be drafted. The prolonged period of preparation of the document meant that the Parliament, during this time, managed to pass an amendment to the Law on Planning and Spatial Development, which abolishes the Study as such.
City Hall argues that currently enacting the Study in its current formula is pointless, and the Authority does not have the resources to conduct work on it and the new General Plan simultaneously. At the same time, officials point out that most of the materials we have prepared for the Study will be used.
The planned network of subway lines in the new study
© UM Warsaw
The abandonment of the study, however, does not mean the end of ongoing public consultations on its draft. The comments collected are to serve as preliminary analytical material. The draft master plan at further stages will also be consulted.
Unfortunately, no timeframe emerges to determine how long we will wait for the new regulations. The law will enter into force 30 days after the date of promulgation, although a longer vacatio legis is provided for some of the regulations. The snail-like process of establishing new regulations has meant that the city has developed over the years, and all indications are that it will continue to do so, in a chaotic manner. The increasingly widespread use of the tools of the housing spec law is due, among other things, to the failure to adapt the provisions of the existing Study and the development plans adopted on its basis, to actual needs. New plans are being developed very slowly or are being withheld, and far too many developments are being carried out on the basis of zoning decisions.
The Study was supposed to specify, among other things, different scales of development
photo: Warsaw City Hall
Knowing the practice of city planners and politicians in charge of spatial planning, who are not very eager to take into account residents' comments on the provisions of local development plans, it is reasonable to ask whether it would not be better to pass the study in the form proposed by planners, without taking into account comments—in an express mode. This could allow the city's basic interests to be safeguarded, pending the enactment of the General Plan, which would have already been created taking into account the proposals of those who took part in the consultations. However, it seems that in view of the heated discussion on the study's provisions, and at the same time the upcoming elections—no one in Warsaw's governance will take such a risk. After all, persisting in expanding the city based on outdated regulations is a far safer option for the city authorities.