Two general plans. Why is the real estate development in Kyiv out of control?




A new General Plan has not been approved in Kyiv for several years. The sluggishness of officials and deputies is too costly.

More than half of Ukrainian cities do not have a current General Plan – a strategic document for the development of any settlement. The capital is not an exception. Hence there is a constant struggle with the chaotic real estate development overloaded highways, communal collapses, etc. on a rush basis. This is an endless marathon of inefficient use of our resources by local authorities and its inability to formulate strategic goals and set tactical objectives.

Why is that and what is needed to make this marathon starting and ending and allow us, city residents, not to pay for it?

First of all, the current General Plan.

That is what should provide appropriate procedures for the human settlements development and serious protection against the architectural ensemble destruction, illegal construction facilities, traffic and communal collapses. If Kyiv had this plan, it would be impossible to obtain a permit to construct a “monster house” on Podol, and construction projects in recreational areas such as the Kachyne Lake in Poznyaky would be clearly identified as a violation. If there are clear rules, unscrupulous developers will lose the opportunity to create residential jungles like “ghettos” that multiply like clones not only around the city’s perimeter, but even in the historic centre. Kyiv authorities like to speak about strategies, but do not like to act strategically. Therefore, we are witnessing the strategic shift being replaced by tactical jumps in different directions.

Paradoxically, there is the general plan for the city. Even two plans. The first one developed since 1997 and adopted in 2002 actually had to be operational by 2020. And the second plan, which has been being developed since the Leonyd Chernovetsky’s administration and then by the Oleksandr Popov’s administration, is currently being finalized under Vitaliy Klychko as mayor for the period up to 2025. And so, these plans provide for a fundamentally different strategic approach to the city’s development.

The General Plan of Kyiv until 2020 envisages the development of Kyiv and suburban areas by joining 10 regional administrative districts (Boyarka, Vyshneve, Irpin, Vyshgorod, etc.). However, the General Plan 2020 was not agreed with territorial communities and local self-government bodies, the Kyiv Regional Council and the Kyiv Regional State Administration. As for the new draft General Plan 2025 (which, by the way, does not coincide with reality while having not yet come into force) provides for the city’s development through the use of own areas – that is, in fact, due to the urban densification in the areas with buildings of 1950-1970s.

These two strategic documents (the existing one and the draft plan) lead to a situation when the main formal decisions are made with reference to the current General Plan 2020, and individual tactical decisions on the development of detailed plans of territories – with reference to the draft General plan 2025.

In my opinion, there are a number of reasons that led to such a situation in the capital.

First, this is rule-making inconsistencies, which are traditional in Ukraine. In particular, validity periods of general plans and the decision of 2011 on the indefinite extension of general plans. In the opinion of lawyers, now it is difficult to adopt a new General Plan, since the legislation does not provide for replacing the document completely, but revising the existing one.

Secondly, there are difficulties related to the development of a historical and architectural key plan, which is part of the General Plan and provides for the boundaries of protected zones and the rules that should work for the territory of architectural monuments. By the way, the Ministry of Culture reports about at least 3,600 monuments in Kyiv.

Thirdly, chaotic zoning decisions (land zoning plan by purpose and restrictions). Initially, it was expected to develop a land zoning plan (its draft has been already developed) and include it into the General Plan. Although then this decision was changed, and they decided to approve the new General Plan and then – the zoning plan. As of today, nothing has been decided on zoning.

And, finally, the lack of political will at the level of local authorities to approve a unified strategy and cancel the “hand management” of the city. Because now, the majority of decisions regarding the city development are taken not at the strategic level of the General Plan, but on the basis of tactical, so-called detailed plans of territories (smaller area schemes).

According to the authorities, dealing with detailed plans of territories is “more dynamic and convenient” for investors. But they do not take into account global dimensions, long-term impact on infrastructure and social protection of living standards.

Using detailed plans of territories, developers shall agree with the local authorities only some areas for development projects without a comprehensive vision. That’s how the “residential ghettos” appear. And in this, it is logical that real estate developers are interested in the construction of only profitable facilities – residential mega complexes, shopping malls and office centers.

According to UN forecasts, in 2050, 66% of the population will live in cities. At the moment, this indicator is 54%. Annually the population of cities increases by 68 million. That is, the urbanization will amount to at least 180,000 people a day in the next few decades. And Kyiv is no exception. In terms of the urbanization index, the capital of Ukraine is moving absolutely within the global trend.

According to experts, over the past 7 years, the standard residential population of the capital has grown by more than 200,000 – now this is 2.9 million Kyiv residents. The actual number is almost 4 million people. At the same time, according to the General Plan 2020 developed since 1997, the private transport development was expected to provide almost 750 thousand of vehicles by 2020.

But now, according to the National Police, the officially registered number of vehicles in Kyiv is 1.2 million. It is 60% more than expected. That’s the increased load on the road infrastructure. And this is traffic jams, the lack of parking lots and overcrowded public service vehicles.

Kiev urgently requires a new, real and adequate General Plan. The city will not be able to exist with the simultaneous implementation of two concepts and with the hand management. The marathon should be completed.