Predicted by the so-called special housing act, the introduction of an additional path to obtain a development permit (pursuant to a resolution of the commune council) will introduce chaos in spatial policy, experts from the AMRON Center estimate. According to them, the regulations threaten, among others: increasing the density of development at the expense of green and recreational areas in the central parts of the city and the construction of buildings contrary to the provisions of local spatial development plans.
– The adoption of the Act on facilitating the preparation and implementation of housing investments and accompanying investments sparked a heated discussion on the future of the quality of the space we develop. Allowing the implementation of housing and related investments contrary to the provisions of local spatial development plans raised outrage among urban planners, local governments and local activists, who criticized the provisions arguing that they would lead to the complete degradation of Polish space. The so-called the special housing act introduces another path for obtaining consent for development, completely detached from the spatial planning system in Poland, which is already often criticized (including by the Supreme Audit Office) and requires thorough modernization – Mateusz Gliwiński, AMRON system operation and development specialist, was quoted in the release.
The Center points out that until now, in accordance with the Spatial Planning and Development Act, it was possible to develop undeveloped land intended for housing purposes in the local spatial development plan or on the basis of a decision on the conditions of development and land development. The development of areas under the special act, which have not yet been planned for the development of housing, will be possible on the basis of a resolution of the commune council. Moreover, the Act allows for changes to adopted local plans without the procedure of amending the Local Development Plan. Therefore, it is de facto permitted to develop areas for residential purposes, regardless of their purpose (including parks and recreational areas).
Urban planning standards
However, the Act introduces certain urban planning standards that are to apply to newly constructed housing facilities. Urban planning standards (norms) constitute a set of central principles for determining the basis on which new housing estates are to be developed. They are intended to provide an attractive living environment, encouraging settlement in a given settlement unit by indicating the minimum and maximum absorption coefficients of the area and equipping it with basic social infrastructure, we read further.
Such standards apply, for example, in the German spatial planning system in the form of a regulation. The principles of achieving the objectives of spatial planning are grouped into regulations relating to development zones, surface dimensions of buildings and forms of land development in the context of urban design. In addition, additional standards regarding land use can be found in the construction laws of individual states (e.g. location of parking lots or playgrounds). Even though Germany is a federal country with strong regional traditions, government regulations are the starting point for creating spatial order in local construction processes, while maintaining the principle of good neighborhood and a friendly living environment, AMRON points out.
AMRON reminded that in Poland the last urban planning norms were in force from 1974 to the mid-1980s and for over 30 years we have not had any central rules for forming new buildings. The housing standard of 1974 specified, among others: the maximum radius of pedestrian access to educational facilities and whether the minimum area of green areas per resident has been secured. After the political transformation and the introduction of the new Spatial Planning and Development Act of 2003, the planning authority of municipalities was weakened by invalidating existing plans and the rules for designing housing estates were liberalized.
– Municipalities may establish certain land use indicators in local plans, in which, in accordance with the act and regulation, they specify “the principles of development development and land development indicators, the maximum and minimum development intensity as an indicator of the total development area in relation to the building plot area, the minimum percentage of the area biologically active in relation to the area of the building plot, the maximum height of buildings, the minimum number of parking spaces. The Act specifies general requirements for local plans, but the commune is not obliged to prepare such studies (coverage of the country with plans after almost 20 years of the Act being in force is approximately 30%), i.e. any standards shaping the requirements for residential investment areas are specific – Gliwiński also informed.
– According to many parties – social organizations, associations of urban planners and local governments – the introduction of local urban planning standards is one of the few tools that will help protect space against the negative effects of the document adopted in August. August 30 this year Warsaw councilors adopted local urban planning standards that apply in the capital. The provisions of the resolution included the division into three zones: the functional city center, the urban zone and the suburbs. In detail, these include: reducing the maximum distances from public transport stops to up to 300 meters in the city center, reducing the distance to schools and kindergartens to 800 meters, and to recreation, recreation or sports areas to 750 meters. Warsaw decided to limit the height of buildings to a maximum of 7 storeys mentioned above – Gliwiński pointed out.
AMRON emphasizes that the experience of recent years has shown the inefficiency of the spatial planning system in Poland. Local plans constitute the implementation of the commune’s spatial policy, which imposes restrictions and standards on land management in order to protect the public interest and ensure a healthy, sustainable living environment. The introduction of a parallel path to obtain a development permit introduces additional chaos in the commune’s spatial policy.
– Two-track spatial planning will have a negative impact on the activities of the commune, which currently does not have full control over land development – on the one hand, it must make up for underinvested in infrastructure in developed areas, and on the other hand, plan the development of subsequent areas with limited funds. Green and recreational areas in the central parts of the city, which constitute attractive investment grounds, are particularly at risk of increased development density. The construction of buildings contrary to the provisions of the Local Development Plan destroys the concept of the target functional and spatial structure and reduces the quality of living in the city – summarized.