All those who are interested in construction and infrastructure in Poland know about the new legislative initiative, which is to further simplify the procedures related to construction processes, this time in terms of planning procedures. The new draft law has already been hailed 'lex developer' by journalists.

The assumptions of the bill include the introduction of planning simplifications primarily aimed at facilitating the implementation of new housing investments. Pursuant to the draft, the facilitations mainly concern the implementation of the government "plus" flat scheme.

Pursuant to the draft act, a developer will be entitled to apply to the city council for a total waiver of the land development plans in force after obtaining consent in this respect (gmina), and if the area is not covered by any plan - such consent is to be granted by the city President (commune head, mayor).

Currently, any planned investment which is inconsistent with the development plan for its implementation, requires the prior amendment to the binding zoning plan and in it's absence, obtaining a decision on the conditions for the development and development of the area. Changing the development plan is not a simple matter, as it requires many social consultations as well as various spatial analysis and is very time consuming.

Public participation in the current planning system prevents abuse. This minimal public participation is not a perfect solution and has many disadvantages but it ensures little influence on the urban decisions of the officials taken from behind the desk and often detached or even contrary to the interests of local communities. The bill seems to limit it even further, resulting in local residents complete inability to influence the space in which they live.

The condition for using the "benefits of the Act" is the appropriate size of the investment to be made up of at least two multi-family buildings with a minimum of 50 apartments or a group of more than 25 single-family buildings, which are an additional investment:

  • -are to be located at a distance of not more than 1 km from a public transport stop;
  • are to be situated at a distance no more than 3 km to the nearest school or child nursery building, but if the given institution is not able to accept new children, it will be necessary to ensure that the children are transported to another institution for a five year period,
  • are to be situated at a distance of up to 1 km to the nearest 'basic commercial outlet',
  • are to be situated at a distance of up to 3 km away where residents of a new investment have access to recreational areas with a minimum area of 2 sq m per each.

Interestingly, the draft Act completely overlooks such urban aspects which have always been determined in spatial development plans, such as the layout of buildings on the plot, the intensity of buildings, as well as the shape or height of the building.

The Act only determines the height of buildings depending on the size of the population of a given locality:

in cities up to 30,000 Inhabitants and outside cities - max. three storeys,

in cities between 30 and 100 thousand inhabitants max. up to four floors,

in cities over 100,000 residents - without any height restrictions.

The statutory solutions outlined above seem to have one direction - they impose statutory solutions from above, diminishing or even eliminating the element of local community decision-making. It is true that local authorities were not always up to the task primarily in the situation of a general lack of existing development plans, but it must also be noted that the administrative courts which in the case law clearly placed more emphasis on the right to property than the public good.

However, it is difficult to agree with the legislator's vision of regulating the top-down spatial development issue other than through spatial development plans. This is another substitute which is to replace the deficiencies of systemic solutions.

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