I. GENERAL INFORMATION
II. PLANNING CONTENT AND PROCESS ACCORDING TO THE VALID ACT
III. CURRENT SITUATION AND MAIN PROBLEMS IN PLANNING
county plans must be produced in co-operation with the local governments of the planning area, neighbouring county governments, the Ministry of the Environment and other ministries concerned;
comprehensive plans must be produced in co-operation with the local governments neighbouring the planning area and the corresponding county government.
detailed plans must be produced in co-operation with the owners of immovable and inhabitants of the planning area.
II. PLANNING CONTENT AND PROCESS ACCORDING TO THE VALID ACT
1. Basic principles of the Act and objectives of different plans
The planning system proceeding from the PBA is four-level - national planning, county planning, (municipal) comprehensive planning and detailed planning. On the one hand the planning system is hierarchic, i.e. the more detailed plan has to observe the valid more general plan. On the other - interactive, i.e. in case a more detailed plan requires modification of a more general plan, the necessary change comes into effect with enforcement of the more detailed plan. The PBA expressly underlines the agreement nature of plans and the consequent co-operation requirement in all the phases of the planning process.
The national planning policy statement is an outline for the physical development of the entire territory of the country.
The objectives of the national planning policy statement are to
- formulate the strategy and concepts for the physical development of the territory of the country;
- interrelate the principles of long-term sustainable development and physical and economic development;
- influence human settlement patterns;
- create physical and economic bases for the regional policies of the state;
- determine conditions for land use imposed by the state;
- determine the location of roads, railway and technical network routes, ports, airports and other constructions of national significance;
- take protected areas and the conditions for their use into account in planning and make proposals for the establishment of new protected areas;
- make proposals to ensure the conservation of various types of ecosystems and landscapes and create a system of natural communities to balance and compensate for the effect of human settlement and economic activities.
After completion of the first national planning document it became clear that some of these objectives (for example location of roads, etc.) are too detailed and specific and the issue will be revised during the current revisions of the Act.
A county plan is prepared either for the whole territory of a county or a part thereof.
A county plan may be prepared for several counties or parts thereof on the agreement of the county governments concerned.
County plans may be prepared as thematic plans with the objectives specified below.
The objectives of county planning are to
- formulate the strategy and concepts for the general physical and economic development of the county;
- balance national and local interests;
- form the basis for long-term sustainable development and interrelate this with physical and economic development;
- interrelate economic and physical planning;
- influence human settlement patterns;
- designate urban and rural areas;
- ensure the conservation of valuable arable land, landscapes and natural biotic communities;
- determine general conditions for the use of land and water areas and fundamental zoning principles;
- determine conditions for the use of natural resources;
- determine the location of principal roads, railway and technical network routes, ports, airports and other engineering structures;
- take protected areas and the conditions for their use into account in planning. To make proposals for the specification of conditions for the use or establishment of new protected areas;
- designate recreation areas and determine the conditions for their use;
- make proposals for the amendment of the approved national planning policy statement, if necessary.
Comprehensive plan is prepared for the territory of a rural municipality or city.
Every rural municipality or town shall have a comprehensive plan which may be prepared individually for parts of the municipality.
Comprehensive plan may be prepared for several rural municipalities or cities or parts thereof on the agreement of the local governments concerned.
The objectives of a comprehensive plan are to
- outline the main objectives of physical and economic development;
- determine conditions for long-term sustainable development and interrelate them with physical and economic development;
- specify boundaries between urban and rural areas indicated in county plans or determine such boundaries where no adopted county plan exists;
- ensure the conservation of valuable arable land, landscapes and natural communities and determine the conditions for their use;
- establish general conditions for the use of land and water areas and general construction criteria thereof;
- functional zoning of territories in order to determine the primary use of the territories or parts thereof;
- determine the location of principal roads and streets, railways, ports and airports and the general principles for traffic management;
- determine the location of principal technical network routes and engineering constructions;
- determine recreation and leisure areas;
- specify the extent of shores and banks of water-bodies;
- take into account heritage conservation areas, nature conservation areas and objects, other protected areas and objects and the conditions for their use in planning according to the established protection rules or statutes, and if necessary, make proposals for the specification of protection rules and statutes,;
- make proposals for placing areas and individual objects under protection, if necessary;
- determine national defence related areas;
- make proposals for the amendment of current county plans, if necessary.
Comprehensive plans determine the parts of rural areas where detailed planning is mandatory.
A detailed plan is a plan that is prepared for a smaller part of a town municipality and is the basis for building activities in the short term.
A detailed plan determines the following:
- division of the planning area into plots
- building rights of plots, i.e. the intended use of plot, permitted number of buildings on the plot, the maximum permitted area occupied by buildings and the permitted height of buildings.
- street areas and principles of traffic
- planting of vegetation
- clearances between buildings
- location of technical networks and constructions
- environmental protection measures
- special requirements for land use and building within protected areas and objects under protection
- proposals to place areas or objects under protection, if necessary
- architectural requirements for buildings
- the need for easements
- national defense related areas
- other restrictions on immovable pursuant of law.
2. Planning obligation, client/producer of plans
The need to produce a national plan is identified and the relevant task given by the Government, and the Ministry of Environment is held responsible for the preparation itself.
The law does not constitute the obligation of county plan production. The need to produce a county plan is identified and the relevant task is given by the Government or the County Governor. County Government is held responsible for the preparation of the plan. The Act prescribed county plans to be produced within three years after enactment, i.e. by mid-summer of 1998. This task has been accomplished. In the summer of 1999 the Government consigned another round of county planning, consisting of thematic plans focussing on green networks and valuable landscapes.
Towns and rural municipalities must have comprehensive plans. As of today the due date for plans to be produced has not been determined yet. All entities from the National Government to private individuals can make proposals to initiate comprehensive planning. The need for production of the plan is identified and the relevant task given by the municipal Council. Local government organises and finances production of the plan (which in practice means that the municipality does it with its own resources or orders it from a consultant). It also organises communication with the public during the planning process.
Construction of new buildings, additions to existing buildings, division of land into plots and alterations to boundaries of existing plots in urban areas are only permitted on the basis of detailed plans adopted by local governments
All persons can make proposals to initiate detailed planning. The need for preparation of a detailed plan is identified and the relevant task given by the Municipal Council or Municipal Government. Local government organises production of the plan and communication with the public during the planning process. Municipality can transfer organisation and financing of detailed planning to the owner of the land under planning or to a person interested in plan preparation with conclusion of a contract.
The law does not prescribe any restrictions regarding qualifications nor professional skills, to the producer of the plan. Plans may be produced by persons to whom the Ministry, County Government or municipality has assigned the task.
3. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the planning process
EIA is not yet regulated in Estonia. Earlier, in compliance with the Government regulation, plans have been subject to environmental appraisal. According to the regulation, the plan was appraised after completion but prior to its enforcement. With enactment of the PBA the overall appraisal requirement was invalidated but the supervisor of plans retained the right to demand plans to be environmentally appraised in the course of supervision. The tasks of plans proceeding from the PBA (see Section II, part 1) set the requirement of in-depth, comprehensive and development-related addressing of environmental issues. By February 2000, preparation of the EIA Act dealing basically with procurement EIA, and the PBA supplements dealing with integration of EIA and planning, are in the final phase.
4. Main rules of co-operation and public participation
County plan, comprehensive plan and detailed plan are subject to the same notification, co-operation and public participation requirements in principle.
Once a year the municipality has to inform the public of plan preparation.
County governments and local governments communicate the objectives of planning which they initiate through the appropriate national, county or local media within one month after the decision to initiate planning is made.
County governments notify local governments of the initiation of county planning concerning the territories of the local governments within two weeks after the date on which the decision to initiate planning is made.
If detailed planning which is being initiated could result in the need to expropriate an immovable or a change to the current land use or building rights of a plot, the local government notifies the owner of the corresponding immovable of initiation of the detailed planning by registered mail within two weeks after the date on which a decision to initiate planning is made.
The municipality has to involve the owners of immovable and inhabitants in the planning area in the planning process, organising public discussions during the process.
One of the essential requirements of the Act is institutional co-operation – the producer of the plan must continuously collaborate with representatives of the administrative units and those sectoral departments whose interests are addressed/affected by the plan. Consequently,
- national plan must be produced in co-operation with county governments, county associations of local governments and the relevant ministries;
Public display and discussion
The municipality or the County Governor decide on adoption of the concerted plan of their respective territories and announce public display. Adoption of a plan means that the municipality or the County Governor states the plan to have been produced according to their will and agreement to have been reached therein with administrative units and sectoral authorities whose interests the plan concerns.
National plans are not subject to the requirement of public display nor public discussion. There is a requirement, though, to review the basic principles of a national plan for the public in national or county media; national plans have to be produced in co-operation with county governments, sectoral authorities and county associations of local governments.
County plans are displayed for six weeks in county centres and other towns and municipality centres of the planning area.
Comprehensive plans are displayed for four weeks in the centre of urban or rural municipality, the larger settlements of the rural municipality or the settlement for which the plan is being prepared.
Detailed plans are displayed for the public for two weeks in the centre of urban municipality or the rural municipality centre and in the corresponding settlement.
If a plan results in the need for expropriation or change of the current land use or building rights of a plot, the local government must notify the owner of the corresponding immovable of public display of the plan by registered mail. The general public is informed of public display via media.
The relevant municipality or county government is obligated to answer in writing to all the persons who had expressed opinion or made proposals in writing during public display, and organise a public discussion for introduction of the public display. Remaining differences of opinion with persons whose opinion or proposal was not taken into account are settled with the supervising body of the plan.
In case the basic solutions of the plan are modified as a result of public display and discussions, the process of display and discussion has to be repeated.
The municipality has the right to exclude the phase of public display and discussion in case a detailed plan is being produced for not more than three family houses, garden houses or summer house plots, for detailed planning of an empty plot between existing buildings to erect a block of flats or for determination of the size of a plot under existing buildings in the course of the land reform.
5. Approval/concordance of plans
Plans must have formal concord prior to public display from these administrative units and sectoral authorities whose interests the plan concerns.
National plan must have the concord of the relevant ministries and with the county governments and county associations of local governments.
County plan must have the concord of the county governments neighbouring the planning area and the local governments of the planning area.
Comprehensive plan must have the concord of the local governments neighbouring the planning area.
Detailed plan must have the concord of the corresponding sectoral authorities.
Supervisory authorities can identify the need for additional concordance that needs to be acquired prior to public display of the plan.
6. Supervision of plans
After the county or municipality has introduced amendments and revisions proceeding from proposals made at public display and discussion, county plan is submitted for supervision to the Ministry of the Environment, comprehensive and detailed plan to County Governor with information on unsolved disputes included. No supervision is exercised over detailed plans that have been produced in compliance with comprehensive plans and do not contain unsolved disputes. The law does not foresee supervision over national plans.
The objective of supervision over plans is to
- monitor the compliance of plans with Acts and norms;
- monitor the compliance of plans with current more general plans;
- grant consent to amend current more general plans upon the adoption of plans submitted to the supervisory authorities;
- monitor compliance with national interests in the case of plans of planning areas for which no more general plans exist;
- if a submission is not taken into consideration, hear persons who have made written submissions at the public display of a plan and the county government or local government as the other party to a dispute and provide an opinion on such dispute.
Disputes concerning issues within the competence of the supervisory authority which arise between a local government and the supervising County Governor shall be resolved by the Minister of the Environment.
Approval of the plan by supervisory authorities is the prerequisite for enforcement of the plan.
7. Enforcement/adoption and validity of plans
National plan is approved by the Government.
A county plan approved by the Minister of the Environment is adopted by the County Governor.
Adoption of a comprehensive plan lies in the sole competency of municipal council, detailed plans are enforced by the municipal council or municipal government.
Plans that have been through the supervision phase but have not been adopted, have no legal power.
The public is informed of adopted plans in media. Information about adoption has to be delivered in writing to
- the supervisory authorities, i.e. in case of county plans the Ministry of the Environment and in case of comprehensive or detailed plans the County Government;
- local governments of the planning area in case of county plans;
- the catastre office, concerning restrictions introduced with comprehensive or detailed plans.
Persons whose opinions and proposals were not considered in the adopted plans have to be informed of enforcement in writing. These persons are entitled to dispute the plan in court within one month from learning of enforcement.
Validity of plans
The law does not prescribe the validity period of plans. A plan is valid until the time it is invalidated or a new plan is produced and adopted for the territory. A plan is invalidated by the entity that enforced it. In case a new plan is produced for a part of the area/territory with the enforced plan, the corresponding part of the earlier plan becomes invalid with adoption of the new plan.
For example, there are two options to partially modify an adopted county plan:
- a plan is produced for the part of the county requiring modification and adopted
- a comprehensive plan is produced, modifying the county plan. In case the County Governor has approved modifications in the course of supervision, local government adopts the comprehensive plan as a result of which County Government introduces the modifications to the county plan and the Governor adopts them.
Likewise, a valid comprehensive plan can be changed with production of a detailed plan for a part of the territory.
Local governments must provide prior notice to the public of the intention to invalidate a plan, all persons have the right to file protests against the intended repeal. Owners of immovable in the planning area can dispute repeal of a detailed plan in court as invalidation of the building right of a plot together with detailed plan substantially impairs the rights of the owner and can cause property damage.
Availability of plans
Everybody interested must have access to adopted plans and related planning materials. Local governments must guarantee availability of copies of adopted comprehensive and detailed plans.
8. Legal impact of different plans
National plans, county plans and comprehensive plans of urban areas do not have any direct legal impact on owners of immovable.
National plan sets guidelines and general principles for spatial development which shall be followed by county plans.
County plan is binding for
- County Government who is responsible for its implementation and for whom the county plan is part of the legal basis for supervision over comprehensive plans;
- local governments in production of comprehensive plans.
Comprehensive plan is binding for
- local governments responsible for its implementation and observation in detailed plans;
- owners of immovable in rural areas.
Detailed plan is binding for
- local governments responsible for its implementation;
- owners of immovable in the planning area.
9. Compensation for damage caused by planning restrictions
Owners of immovable can demand compensation for damage caused by restrictions inflicted by comprehensive or detailed plans or invalidation of detailed plans. In case restrictions proceed from solutions of county plans, compensation is handled by the state, in other cases by local government. If agreement about the level of compensation cannot be reached, the case is settled in court.
A local government is required to purchase an immovable at the request of the owner of the immovable for immediate and fair compensation if an adopted detailed plan or comprehensive plan
- prescribes use of the immovable for public purposes;
- substantially restricts the current use of the immovable or renders its current use impossible.
The regulation is primarily constituted to protect the owners. For example, if a detailed plan foresees demolition of a family house in order to expand or construct a new highway, the owner can demand immediate purchase of the house despite of the fact that construction is to start in five years only. Compensation rate is the market value of the property.
Expropriation can be applied only on the basis of a detailed plan in urban areas, and on the basis of a comprehensive plan in rural areas. Expropriation is subject to the Expropriation Act, it can be applied only in cases listed in the Act.
10. Obligation to review enforced plans
The law prescribes the obligation to review enforced plans. All plans are subject to this requirement. The prime objective of review is provision of information to the new representative body of the results of plan-based development, possibilities of further implementation of the plan, the need for modification of the basic solutions or invalidation of the plan, i.e. enhancing the competency and awareness of the new representative body in addressing planning issues.
The Ministry of the Environment reviews the approved national plan and submits its findings and an overview of the planning situation in the country to the Government not later than within one year after regular Parliament (Riigikogu) elections are held.
County governors review adopted county plans and submit their findings to the Ministry of the Environment not later than within one year after regular local government elections are held.
Local governments review adopted comprehensive plans and detailed plans and submit their findings to the county government not later than within six months after regular local government elections are held.
The public is notified of the findings of reviews concerning adopted national plans and county plans through the national and county media; the public is notified of the findings of reviews concerning adopted comprehensive plans and detailed plans through the local and county media.
10. Everybody’s building right
Everybody’s building right does not exist in Estonia. In rural areas, the construction of new buildings and additions to existing buildings are permitted on the basis of design criteria and building permit issued by local governments.
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