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Alert: Amendment to the Act on spatial planning and development – zoning decisions and transactional provisions

24 July 2023

On 7 July 2023, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland adopted the Act amending the Act on Spatial Planning and Development and Certain Other Acts (the "Amendment").

The Sejm rejected most of the Senate's amendments, and the Amendment was submitted to the President for signature and got signed on 24 July 2023. General information about the scope of the Amendment can be found in our legal alert at the following link here.

Issuing zoning decisions

One of the key elements of the Polish planning order, which will change as a result of the Amendment, are decisions on building conditions (the "Zoning Decisions"). Obtaining a Zoning Decision is necessary if we want to obtain a building permit in an area for which a local zoning plan (the "Local Zoning Plan") has not been adopted. 

The legislator provided that in the period until the introduction of a new general plan for a municipality (the "General Plan"), Zoning Decisions may be issued on the principles resulting from the previous provisions. 

However, if the application for a Zoning Decision is submitted on or after 1 January 2026, the Zoning Decision may be issued only if the General Plan has been adopted for the area concerned. As a rule, issuance of a Zoning Decision will be possible only in areas designated in the General Plan as development area.

The above provisions are intended to encourage the municipalities to adopt a General Plan soon as possible. However, if the General Plan is not adopted by 1 January 2026, e.g. due to lack of funds, the consequences will be borne by investors. Obtaining a Zoning Decision in such a municipality will be possible only after the adoption of the General Plan.

Duration of the zoning decision

Zoning Decisions issued before the entry into force of the Amendment remain in force. Moreover, the Zoning Decisions that become final before 1 January 2026 will retain their indefinite character.

According to the Amendment, a Zoning Decision that become final on or after 1 January 2026 will expire within 5 years from the date on which the decision became final. In the opinion of Legislator, this will limit the practice of obtaining such decisions for speculative purposes.

Studies of conditions and local zoning plans

Studies of conditions and directions of land development will remain in force after the entry into force of the Amendment. They will expire when the General Plan is adopted in the area. However, all Studies of conditions and directions of development will expire after 31 December 2025. 

The existing Local Zoning Plans remain in force, regardless of whether the General Plan has been adopted in the area. The Legislator provides for the possibility of changing Local Zoning Plans so that they meet the assumptions of the General Plan, but does not impose such an obligation. However, if the municipality wants to change the Local Zoning Plan to any extent, it will have to adjust its provisions to the General Plan that is already in force. 

In accordance with the transitional provisions, if the proceedings for the adoption of the Local Zoning Plan were initiated before the entry into force of the Amendment – the proceedings are conducted based on the previous regulations, with the exceptions indicated in the Amendment.

According to the Amendment, a change in the use of land by the municipality in the General Plan will not constitute the basis for calculating a planning fee or awarding compensation. Such consequences may still result only in the event of an increase or decrease in the value of the property as a result of the adoption of the Local Zoning Plan.

The validity of the "lex developer" Act

The Amendment states that the Act of 5 July 2018 on facilitations in the preparation and implementation of housing investments and accompanying investments - will expire on 1 January 2026. Resolutions on determining the location of a housing investment or accompanying investment, adopted during the period of validity of this Act, will remain in force according to the previous regulations, with the exceptions indicated in the Amendment.

Entry into force - introductory provisions

The Amendment enters into force 30 days after its publication, except for certain provisions. 

For example, the obligations of local government authorities to share data related to local planning available in the Urban Register introduced by the Amendment will apply from 1 January 2026. In this way, the Legislator intends to facilitate and spread over time the adaptation of municipalities' procedures to the newly introduced obligations.

We hope that the above information will be helpful. In the subsequent alerts, we will inform you about further legal solutions adopted in the Amendment.

Further Reading