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Construction Insights May 2024: Poland

24 May 2024
What is Poland's government doing to intercept the continuing issue of 'spatial chaos'? How can they best improve the quality of life for residents and take care of the environment?

Forthcoming changes in regulations regarding technical conditions of the buildings

According to statistical data, approximately 240,000 flats are built in Poland annually, some of which are designed with the intention of selling as much space as possible at the expense of publicly accessible areas, car parks, green areas, and spaces between buildings. This leads to the construction of substandard housing estates and buildings that do not satisfy basic living needs. 

The Polish Economic Institute, in its report entitled "Socioeconomic effects of spatial chaos" presented data showing that the annual costs of spatial chaos in Poland amount to approximately PLN 84.3 billion. This sum includes, among other things, the costs of building and maintaining substandard infrastructure. Therefore, in order to improve the quality of life of residents, reduce the costs of redundant investments and take care of the environment, the government has proposed new legal solutions to order and raise the standard of housing construction.

On 1 August 2024, new regulations on the technical conditions of buildings and their location (introduced on the basis of the Regulation of the Minister of Development and Technology of 27 October 2023 amending the Regulation on technical conditions to which buildings and their location should conform) will come into force. 

The aim of the regulatory changes is to curb the profit-maximizing practices of developers at the expense of people - and nature-friendly architecture, as well as to improve the quality of life for residents and protect the environment.

The amendment will introduce, among other things: 

  • Greater distances between blocks on neighbouring plots.
  • Greater distances between production and storage buildings and residential buildings.
  • Rational planning of parking spaces.
  • An obligation to provide at least 20% of the biologically active area on plots intended for a publicly accessible square (over 1000 m²).
  • Friendly playgrounds and recreation areas for people with special needs.
  • Separating the balconies of adjoining dwellings on a single balcony slab and loggias in such a way as to ensure comfort and minimum light transmission.
  • More quiet flats.
  • Appropriate conditions for adults with special needs.
  • An obligation to provide a 15 m² utility room for the storage of bicycles and prams.
  • An obligation to keep at least 25 m² of usable floor space for a commercial unit in newly designed buildings.

The requirements listed in the aforementioned regulation apply to new construction projects, i.e. those for which (1) no application for the issuance or amendment of a construction permit or no application for the issuance of a separate decision on the approval of a land or plot development design or an architectural-construction design has been submitted, (2) no decision on a building permit or a separate decision on the approval of a plot or land development design or an architectural-construction design has been issued, (3) no notification of construction or performance of other construction works has been made (in the case when a decision on a building permit is not required), (4) no decision on legalization, as referred to in Art. 49 section 4 of the Act of 7 July 1994. - Construction Law ("Construction Law") has been issued and no decisions referred to in Article 51 section 4 of the Construction Law have been issued. 

The changes referred to above are intended to counteract the aforementioned negative development practices that often lead to the development of uncomfortable flats and housing estates. Thanks to the new regulations, residents will be able to enjoy greater comfort and functionality in their homes and, in the long run, better well-being and health. In addition, the new regulations are also intended to save social costs. Buildings built purely for the profit of developers often fail to meet the basic living needs of residents and, in the long run, can generate additional costs associated with health problems, for example.

On the other hand, the government anticipates that the new regulations should also have a positive impact on the micro, small and medium-sized business sectors due to the projected increase in the number of comfortable and more functional housing developments, and thus more activity in the construction sector.

The general reaction of developers to the proposed changes to the regulations is positive. Developers seem to appreciate the aim of these changes to improve the quality of life for residents and reduce negative development practices. 

However, the introduction of new regulations on technical conditions relating to buildings and their location may entail additional costs for developers to adapt projects to the new regulations.

The new requirements resulting from the amendment may also affect investment planning and the amount of investment costs in other sectors, e.g. manufacturing and warehousing or the architectural sector. 

It should also be noted that the regulatory changes outlined could have a direct impact on the increased cost of residential housing development, which will automatically entail higher housing prices. 

However, it is worth emphasising that the changes outlined, which raise the standard of housing, should be seen as beneficial to purchasers. 

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