As we have already reported on the blog in the article ”Key
aspects of the amendments to the Planning and Development Act“, the legislative amendment process concerning the
Spatial Planning and Development Act (hereinafter: the Act) is nearing completion. What remains to be done is the signature
President and promulgation in the Journal of Laws, what provides an excellent opportunity to summarise the changes, including the latest proposals put forward by the Polish Senate.
New planning instrument – the General Plan
The main objective of the Act is to simplify, accelerate and unify spatial planning procedures in municipalities. One of the key changes is the introduction of a new planning instrument, i.e. the General Plan of the municipality, which will replace the currently operating Spatial Development Conditions and Directions Study.
Unlike the Study, the General Plan is to be an act of local law, what means that it will become a binding document (universally binding) within the municipality. The General Plan is intended to be a simpler document, devoid of at least the informative part. Its scope will cover the entire area of the municipality and will be the basis for adopting local plans and issuing decisions on development conditions and land use.
Municipalities have been obliged to adopt General Plans by the end of 2025. This requirement has been criticised by experts and local government officials. Also in our opinion, this deadline may prove to be too short. As proposed by the Senate, an amendment to the Act was introduced that would have moved the deadline to the end of 2027, but the Sejm did not agree with the Senate’s amendment.
Duration of zoning and land use decisions
Decisions on zoning and land use are also the subject of quite significant changes. Initially, the legislator planned to abolish this tool, but eventually his intention has been abandoned. Instead, a specific duration has been introduced for these decisions, which are now indefinite. According to the new regulations, decisions on development conditions are to be valid for 5 years.
In this aspect, the Senate proposed shortening this period to 2 years (with the possibility of extending it for a further 2 years), but this proposal was rejected by the Sejm. In the end, the validity of zoning and land use decisions remains at 5 years.
Integrated investment plan
The Act introduces an additional type of local development plan – the so-called integrated investment plan. This plan will be adopted by the municipality at the request of an investor interested in shaping specific planning conditions that will enable the investor to realise a specific investment.
Prior to the enactment of the plan, the municipality and the investor will conclude a so-called urban planning agreement, under which the investor will undertake towards the municipality to implement the so-called supplementary investment (e.g. construction of a school, kindergarten, road or land development network), and will be able to undertake to cover part or all of the costs related to the enactment of the integrated investment plan.
Other key changes
The amendment to the Act also introduces other significant changes. These include:
- the introduction of the possibility for municipalities to designate sites where housing development will not be allowed;
- the launch of a free and publicly accessible Urban Register in 2026, in which, for example, documents created in the process of adopting local plans or the results of public consultations will be published;
- introduction by 2026 by municipalities of a strategy for the development of the municipality, defining, inter alia, the main elements of technical and social infrastructure, the principles of location of key public purpose investments, the principles of location of devices generating energy with an installed capacity exceeding 500 kW.
Evaluation of the amendment
At this stage it is difficult to predict what the effects of implementing the amended provisions of the Act will be in practice. However, the introduction of the General Plan as an act of local law, binding on all interested parties – both investors and public authorities – seems to be the right solution. The previous Study of Land Development Conditions and Directions was not a sufficiently effective tool and led to different interpretations.
The introduction of an integrated investment plan and urban planning agreement, which should contribute to the elimination of disputes between the municipality and the investor, should also be viewed positively. Nevertheless, aspects that were raised by municipalities cannot be overlooked, such as the too short deadline for the adoption of general plans and the balancing of the often conflicting interests of municipalities, investors and residents when adopting integrated investment plans.
In the following articles, once the Act has been promulgated in the Journal of Laws, we will focus on presenting the individual solutions in more detail. We will try to point out the differences between the current state and the new regulations and indicate which aspects investors should pay special attention to.
Jakub Wysocki, LL.M., Attorney-at-law (PL)
Norbert Czerniak, Lawyer