In all European countries, land development rules are strictly regulated by the law, and it is very expensive to deviate from them. At the same time, all cities and towns have land-use plans and these plans as well as all city planning documents are available to the public. Accordingly, every citizen or entrepreneur sees who builds in the territory, where there are free plots, what is built and what plans for these land plots in the future.
In Ukraine, only 72.6% of settlements have land-use plans and only 24% of them are available to the public. It should be noted that most of these plans come from the USSR.
Therefore, it is not surprising that we have chaotic urban development projects, unfinished and unauthorized projects, the development of nature conservation and green zones and the management of land resources in manual mode with high corruption risks.
There were attempts to improve the situation. For example, in 2011, a new Regulation on the Urban Development Cadastre, which changed the document dated 1993, was adopted. Truly speaking, only after 4 years, in 2015, the Government made the next step – the Regulation on data sets that should be published in the form of public data was adopted. In May 2017, another resolution prepared with the active involvement of BRDO experts and aimed at addressing the issue of providing public access to the urban planning documentation in Ukraine was adopted.
Today is October 2017, and despite the existence of the entire legislative framework, urban planning documentation, which is guide for the planning and development of cities and towns and their infrastructure from networks to traffic flows, remains not available for the public and for the business.
There are two reasons for this. The first one is the lack or obsolescence of documents. The second one is the usual non-compliance by the local authorities with the law on the disclosure of information on urban planning documentation.
Why is this so important, and how do we benefit from the disclosure?
First, the public’s access to urban planning documentation, part of which, strange to say in the 21st century, sometimes is marked as “for official use only”, will remove social tensions in society, especially regarding the illegal construction projects in parks and natural preservation zones. After all, every Ukrainian will have the opportunity to check, in particular, in the city’s general plan whether it is planned to build an industrial plant next to his house or a shopping center in the park where he is walking around with the children every day, or not.
Secondly, it will help citizens make the right choice when purchasing real estate and protect them from inappropriate investments. After all, open documentation allows you to check the location of the property in terms of, for example, environmental standards. Namely, to assess whether there is a facility that could pose chemical pollution threats nearby.
This is also related to such a factor as the development of social infrastructure and plans for it, because urban planning documents usually contain this information. This is included to general plans for sure.
Thirdly, public access to urban planning documentation will increase the interest of foreign investors in Ukraine. Because today not having found the necessary information in public sources, they are not ready to spend time and money on looking for intermediaries, making contacts with local authorities, inquiries and getting official copies. They just do not go to us!
A list of arguments why public access is important for both citizens and businesses goes on. This topic will be described and discussed many times. But facts are a stubborn thing. As many as 33 detailed territorial plans, 14 general plans and 3 schemes of individual inter-district territories have been published on the Unified State web-portal Data.gov.ua. For almost 31,000 territorially administrative units in the country.
A thousandth of a percent. Is it impressive? We were impressed, so we decided to helm the government to stay in line with the current legislation and publish all available urban planning documentation. With the support of the Ministry of Regional Development and the MATRA Project from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the BRDO Office is launching the project “Open Spatial Planning pMAP”. As part of the project, a unified portal, where you can find all the information about the city planning documentation in Ukraine, will be created.
We have already started our activity and plan to provide the Ukrainian and investors with a convenient working tool with full and open data in a year and a half. We sincerely count on the support of all who want to know where he lives and what he owns, in what conditions our children will live and what is planned to be built in the territory of his native Ukraine. After all, it is possible to own only what you know.