An amendment to the Polish Zoning Act came into force on 24 September 2023. The general plan will replace the study of conditions and directions of spatial development of the commune. Unlike the study, it will be an act of local law. This means that its findings will serve as the foundation for the adoption of local zoning plans and the issuance of zoning decisions. It will need to define planning zones and municipal urban planning standards. It will also be possible to determine areas for supplementing development and areas for supplementing the development of the downtown core. The plans will have to be prepared by the end of 2025.

The general plan will be in digital form. This addresses the existing issues present in the traditional paper version of the study and local zoning plans, where the lines delineating the boundaries between zones lack the precision necessary for interpretation down to the square metre on the ground.

Important changes for zoning decisions

Old zoning decisions will remain practically unchanged and will continue to block the space. Currently, zoning decisions are issued wherever a local zoning plan is not in place. Starting from 1 January 2026, the validity period of new zoning decisions will be limited to five years from the date when the decision became final. The possibility of issuing zoning decisions will have to be included in the plan, i.e. in special development areas. If an investment is located outside such an area, the commune will not be able to issue the decision. According to the amendment, large renewable energy sources will be situated based on the local zoning plan, while small renewable energy sources may be situated based on the zoning decision. In the latter case, the condition of locating the investment in the development area will not have to be met.

Integrated investment plans

This is a totally new concept. Integrated investment plans will be prepared at the investor's request. They will be adopted by the commune council, upon an application submitted through the mayor, resulting in the repeal of the relevant part of the local plan, if previously adopted. The adoption of such a plan will result in the execution of an urban planning agreement in the form of a notarial deed. This agreement will specify the investor's obligations towards the commune regarding the costs of adopting such a plan, transferring individual properties or partially covering investment costs like schools, roads, infrastructure, etc. By signing such an agreement, the investor will be obliged to implement the investment.

Alternatively, at the planning procedure stage, the mayor and the commune (city) council will prepare a draft urban planning agreement to be signed on the condition that the local plan will come into force. As a result, the investor knows what they are deciding on if the local plan comes into force and what they will be obliged to do. The commune council is also in a comfortable situation, because the urban planning agreement has already been signed when deciding to adopt or reject the local plan. The implementation of the local plan hinges solely on whether the local plan comes into force or not.

Urban Register

The new act foresees the creation of the Urban Register. This register will collect all the information and data, such as documents created during the preparation of planning acts, reports from public consultations, administrative decisions related to spatial planning and decisions of supervisory authorities. It will be free of charge and available to everyone.

Legal basis

The Act of 7 July 2023 amending the Zoning Act was published on 24 August 2023 and will enter into force in stages. Some of the provisions will enter into force 30 days after the date of promulgation of the Act. Others, in accordance with Article 78, will enter into force at the beginning of 2025 and 2026.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.