Poland: Will spatial planning reform bring more residential development
Is extending the deadline for municipalities to adopt master plans by two years a good idea, according to developers? What impact will the inclusion of municipal land have on the housing market? Will it translate into an acceleration of new developments?
Mateusz Bromboszcz, Vice-President of the Management Board of Atal:
We consistently point out that while we view the very assumptions of the planning reform positively, the problem is the time that the legislator assumed for the introduction of such a broad reform and the reality in which the municipal government operates, related to budget requirements or public procurement.
In view of, for example, the limited availability of professionals who can prepare local general plans for all Polish municipalities, extending the deadlines for adopting general plans seems to be a good move. At the same time, it should be pointed out that the spatial planning reform may have a significant impact on the development activity due to the fact that it is crucial for the availability of land intended or likely to be intended for multifamily housing.
Therefore, the smooth and well-considered adoption of the general plan in individual municipalities will certainly translate into an effective acceleration of the planning process for new residential developments.
Andrzej Oślizło, President of the Management Board, Develia S.A.:
The introduction of general development plans by municipalities has both positive and negative consequences. The extension of the deadline for the enactment of these plans is needed to take into account the time-consuming work on the planning act and the limitations related to the availability of urban planners. On the other hand, the introduction of general plans could further reduce the already low supply of investment land. This would cause a further increase in their prices and thus in the housing built on them.
It is also important for municipalities to have a flexible approach to spatial planning, taking into account local needs and site specificities. A rigid application of statutory benchmarks may not correspond to the real needs of residents and the property market. Here we see a lot of room for cooperation in the planning process between municipalities and developers. An open dialogue between both parties can contribute to the creation of development plans that are more functional and adapted to current needs.
Małgorzata Ostrowska, Director of the Marketing and Sales Division at J.W. Construction:
The plans are necessary and, of course, it would be best if they were introduced as soon as possible, but we understand that the deadlines must be realistic, municipalities must have time to implement the new regulations. We hope that the changes will streamline the incredibly protracted legal and administrative procedures preceding the issuing of a building permit. However, this will not solve the problem in its entirety. The issue of zoning plans is not the only factor affecting the long preparatory process for the start of construction.
Eyal Keltsh, CEO of Robyg Group and Vantage:
It is difficult to comment on this project, but we do not think it will affect the current functioning of the residential market. Certainly, the most important issue is to make every effort to speed up administrative procedures. The waiting time for a building permit currently takes about 1.5 -2 years, whereas it used to be 6-9 months. The limited access to land, as well as the low number of building permits issued, significantly slows down the process of project implementation and also affects the systematic increase in housing prices. Therefore, both state and local administrations should simplify procedures as much as possible so that construction can be carried out as efficiently as possible. This is an area that should definitely be improved.
Andrzej Gutowski, Vice-President and Sales Director of Ronson Development:
The project proposed in the parliament to extend the deadline for general plans to the end of 2027 is a good initiative. It is worth noting that the original deadline of the end of 2025 may not have been sufficient for municipalities to carry out a thorough urban planning analysis. Moving the deadline will allow for more accurate and precise preparation of general plans.
The very idea of adopting a general plan has a significant impact on the housing market. If such a reform is carried out effectively, it can bring numerous benefits, such as simplifying the procedures for obtaining building permits. This, in turn, can speed up the process of new residential developments.
Mariola Żak, sales and marketing director at Aurec Home:
A number of beneficial solutions have been introduced into the system as part of the amendment to the Act on planning and spatial development. I am referring to integrated investment plans, the urban planning register, a simplified procedure for adopting local plans or changes in the scope of public consultations. The planned changes are intended to simplify, unify and accelerate planning procedures so that local plans can be implemented more efficiently and the planning procedure can be completed in a matter of months rather than years. They will also make it possible to gradually realise the over-supply of unused housing land in local plans.
The remedy for these problems was supposed to be the master plan, which, as it turns out, will not solve them. What is more, it will put the brakes on new development. Why? The draft does not include a change to all the necessary deadlines. First and foremost is the date by which it will be possible to apply for a zoning decision. The current date of 31 December 2025 marks the point at which they expire, unless a general plan is adopted earlier in the municipality. The absence of a general plan, when the study expires, will mean that no planning tools can be used in the municipality in question. It will be impossible to adopt local plans, including ZPIs, or to issue decisions on development conditions, which will make it much more difficult for developers to launch new investments.
Dorota Gdaniec, Alter Investment land sales specialist:
The parliamentary project assuming extension of the deadline for municipalities to adopt general plans by two years has a key impact on spatial order in municipalities and the possibility of streamlining procedures in the implementation of developer investments. Too short a period for such a significant change in spatial management could be counterproductive, as local authorities would not be able to prepare themselves substantively and organisationally for an undertaking of this scale. Many areas could also be overlooked, and consequently no development would be possible on such land. The supply of developable land is already severely limited due to various conditions.
If municipalities have sufficient time and approach the establishment of master plans in a very precise manner, the procedures for obtaining documentation for PnB should be more transparent and proceed more smoothly.
Janusz Miller, Sales and Marketing Director at Home Invest:
The proposed draft law extending the deadline for the enactment of general development plans by two years may be beneficial for municipalities, enabling them to carry out more comprehensive spatial planning. However, this may cause delays in investment projects and increase uncertainty for investors. On the other hand, the enactment of a general plan will have an impact on the housing market by determining land availability, type of development and infrastructure standards, and its introduction by municipalities may accelerate the process of new housing developments depending on the efficiency of the municipality's actions.
Anna Bieńko, Sales Director at Wawel Service:
The project proposed in the parliament can arguably help municipalities avoid the time pressure that usually accompanies the planning process. A longer deadline will allow for a more in-depth analysis and public consultations, which will contribute to a better quality of the documents prepared. For us, on the other hand, longer deadlines for the adoption of master plans may result in delays in the housing development process. The lack of a clear timeframe may also introduce market uncertainty. Investors may be less inclined to make investment decisions in the absence of clear master plans.
In contrast, the adoption of a master plan already provides guidance on land use, which contributes to the stability of investments. Developers can more easily plan and implement their projects with certainty about the development conditions. It is certainly crucial to find the right balance point to avoid both planning chaos and delays in the investment process.
Photo: Krzemieniecka, Vita