October 2023

Poland’s New Spatial Planning Law in a Nutshell

On 24 September 2023, a significant reform of Spatial Planning Law came into effect. This will undoubtedly have a great impact on both the construction sector and future investments in Poland. The most crucial aspects of the reform include:

  • Expiry of existing Zoning Studies (general planning documents covering a whole municipality’s area) by the end of 2025, to be replaced by a new and much simpler General Master Plan to be adopted by all municipalities in Poland by the end of 2025.
  • General Master Plans will divide municipality areas into separate functional areas (such as mixed-use/residential, services, retail, industrial, greenery, transport, agricultural, etc.) and will determine the basic parameters of development (maximum building height, maximum development area/intensity, minimum green area ratio). Residential areas should be strategically located to prevent urban sprawl in municipalities and ensure public services (such as schools and parks) for each residential area.
  • Building Permits will continue to be granted based on either a Local Master Plan or an individual Land Development Decision (LDD).
  • Current Local Master Plans will remain in force with New Local Master Plans to be adopted based on the newly adopted General Master Plans. Certain restrictions have been introduced regarding the location of photovoltaic facilities in agricultural areas (Local Master Plan required).
  • Current individual Land Development Decisions (LDD) will remain in force.
  • Starting from 1 January 2026, new LDDs will:
  • have to be consistent with General Master Plans (unlike current LDDs, which do not need to be consistent with Zoning Studies);
  • be issued only on “development supplementation areas” as determined in General Master Plans;
  • be valid for 5 years.
  • The introduction of new Integrated Investment Plans, which are individually adopted Local Master Plans negotiated between municipalities and investors for specific private projects and accompanying public projects. Integrated Investments Plans will be adopted only in conjunction with the signing of an “urbanistic contract” regulating the investor’s participation in the accompanying public purpose project and/or other investor’s services benefitting the municipality.
  • The introduction of a publicly available electronic Urbanistic Register showing all spatial planning acts adopted or being processed.
  • New rules of public participation in the creation of spatial planning acts, including the obligation of authorities to notify an interested party (upon their request) by email about changes in the status of a given planning procedure (a feature that was previously unavailable).

Changes for the Better

The most positive aspect of the reform is that individual LDDs will need to be consistent with general municipal planning documents, which should bring more planning order to municipalities.

Additionally, the regulations aimed at preventing urban sprawl are a step in right direction, although they may be less effective in addressing urban sprawl from large cities into adjacent municipalities. However, this could be the next legislative step in the near future.

Integrated Investment Plans should bring more flexibility in spatial planning, which was previously available only for residential developers.

Now, all property owners will receive email notifications about planning changes regarding their property, eliminating the cumbersome need to regularly monitor municipal webpages for such updates.

In theory, the new regulations should bring consistency, flexibility, and transparency to spatial planning; however, many municipalities have voiced concerns that the timeline for implementing these changes by the end of 2025 is simply too short a period for every Polish municipality to adopt General Master Plans.

Consequently, it is expected that municipalities will be inundated with LDD applications before the end of 2025 to take advantage of current liberal regulations. In any case, the market is certain to capitalise on the changing legal environment.

For more detailed information, get in touch with Head of Construction at Penteris Przemysław Kastyak.