Two months without historical and urban planning rationales. Is the Ministry of Culture removed from the real estate development management?


The methodological recommendations of the Ministry of Culture on the procedure for the development and approval of historical and urban planning rationales are no longer in effect from January 1, 2019. And although the approval procedure lost its harmful rudiment, there is still no urban happy ending in the near future.

Many hoped that the cancellation of historical and urban planning rationales would significantly change the market climate. However, in fact, no revolution happened in 2018.

We see that rules, which should have been in effect since 2011, are gradually implemented after the adoption of the Law “On Regulation of Urban Development”. This law strengthened the role of system planning.

Previously, real estate developers could adjust the master plan decisions through urban planning rationales, and many took advantage of this opportunity. The materials of general city plans became more complicated because of numerous adjustments. The same approach was applied to historical and architectural basic plans. Their provisions were elaborated at each design stage, and, in addition, historical and urban planning rationales were developed for all facilities in historic areas. Thus, construction possibilities and restrictions were determined individually for each facility, and strategic documents lost their importance.

In addition, the existing model violated the principle of legal certainty. The consequences of state regulation should be foreseeable for those to whom it applies. The community has the right to understand today and determine for the future what is basically allowed to do in the city and what is not. Therefore, the Law “On Regulation of Urban Development” of 2011 regulated the approval process, supposedly by eliminating localized construction projects.

However, the attempts to implement a quick reform failed. Situational regulation has been remained in government rules and regulations until the beginning of 2019, when the methodological recommendations of the Ministry of Culture on the procedure for the development and approval of historical and urban planning rationales lost their force.

Now, we can only guess how the system will work. As planned by the Ministry of Culture, starting from 2019, there should be a moratorium on construction in historic areas of cities that do not have an approved historical and architectural basic plan.

According to the Ministry of Culture, historical and architectural basic plans have been approved and are currently used in less than a third of Ukrainian historical cities (excluding temporarily occupied territories). Even Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv do not have such plans. Only 20 historical and architectural basic plans were approved in the most productive 2017, and more than 250 plans are to be approved. Even according to the most optimistic scenario, the process will take several years. A spatial planning vacuum creates tension that will result in the rapid adoption of historical and architectural basic plans in the best case and in massive unplanned construction projects in the worst case.

We have to admit that the moratorium on construction in the territories where historical and architectural basic plans were not approved has not yet been in effect. According to the data of the open system on reviewing licenses “Transparent DABI”, construction permits in the center of Kyiv, which has no historical and architectural basic plan, are issued this year. Data on the issuance of documents for construction projects in the historic area for January 2019 are available in Kyiv and Lviv registers of urban planning conditions and restrictions.

The market needs to know: whether the cancellation of historical and urban planning rationales removes the Ministry of Culture from the “management” of real estate development projects or not?

The answer is no. When developing the Green Paper “New construction in the territories of cultural heritage sites”, we found out that the Ministry of Culture had eight (including historical and urban planning rationales) instruments of influence. The approval from cultural heritage protection agencies is required already at the stage of land allocation, then they will review design plans and specifications. To carry out ground and construction works, you will need several permits from these agencies. In the case when a new facility may affect monuments of national and local importance at the same time, the procedure becomes more difficult: approvals and permits are issued by both the Ministry of Culture and local cultural heritage protection agencies. In such a way, the Ministry of Culture still has an influence on all stages of construction in historic areas.

We will finish the analysis on a note of optimism. Theoretically, the manual control through historical and architectural rationales should be replaced with basic plans, reducing the number of conflicts between the community and developers. Now it is up to local authorities that need to finalize their urban planning documentation.