II. PLANNING CONTENT AND PROCESS ACCORDING TO THE VALID ACT AND REGULATIONS
1. Basic principles of act and basic tasks of different plans
The goals of Spatial Development Planning are the following according to the Act:
- to evaluate the spatial development potential and necessary restrictions of the state, districts, state cities, district towns and pagasts (rural municipalities), as well as planning regions and economic sectors;
- to promote the initiative in business development and investment attraction;
- to join the European spatial development planning framework together with the neighbouring countries;
- to ensure rational use of territories and environment quality;
- to ensure the rights to use and develop real property in accordance with the requirements of physical plans.
According to the Regulations on Physical Plans:
National plan (nacionalais planojums) is a physical plan which determines the interests of the state in use of the territory of Latvia and is binding for institutions of state authority and administration and municipalities that make decisions about the use and protection of the territory, and elaborate corresponding physical plans. National Plan consists of four parts. These are:
- Report on use of the territory of the country (describes the existing situation);
- Development perspective of the territory of the country (a strategic document);
- A number of plans for areas of national significance (the list of the corresponding areas is given in the Regulations on Physical Plans);
- National Planning Guidelines (best practices, pilot planning projects).
District plan is a physical plan for the whole administrative territory of the district. This plan depicts the existing structure and determines the planned structure of the district with a perspective of at least twelve years. District plan co-ordinates the interests of state institutions, town and rural municipalities of the district as well as general territorial, social, economic, environmental and cultural interests at the territory of the district, including the demands of the plan concerning the use of the territory and resources:
- in issues which exceed the competency of one municipality;
- in issues the impact of which exceed borders of one town or pagasts municipality of the district;
- in issues which cannot be solved in the plan of one town or pagasts municipality;
- in issues which specify demands of the national plan.
The municipality of each town and rural area shall have a physical plan in force. The plan elaborated for the whole rural municipality or for the administrative territory of the town (further - general plan) depicts the existing use of the territory and determines the planned and allowed use of the territory of the municipality with a perspective of at least twelve years. Specified objects, territories and demands are also determined in the district plan.
Town council or pagasts council shall ensure elaboration of the physical plan. General plan is elaborated according to the development programme of town or rural municipality. Town and rural municipality ensures also elaboration of detailed plans in accordance with the demands of the General Plan.
After the general plan comes into force, the municipality elaborates the detailed plans required by the general plan.
Detailed plan is a plan for a part of the territory of the municipality, which specifies the demands and proposals of the general plan.
Detailed plan is adopted as binding regulations of municipality. Requirements of detailed plans are binding for all landowners and users of the territory, included in the plan.
Other types of plans
Municipalities can sign agreements on co-operation in the field of planning and on the basis of these agreements elaborate plans (further - regional plans) for territories which do not coincide with administrative borders of municipalities or exceed borders of one district according to the administrative territorial division of the Republic of Latvia. Each municipality which has signed an agreement on elaboration of regional plan shall take a decision about participation in elaboration of the regional plan.
The Law mentions preparation of Development Plans of Special Territories as a responsibility of the State and a task for Spatial Development Planning Centre. However, specific criteria for the selection of such territories or contents of plans are not described. Today it is a possibility for an extra case upon necessity.
2. Planning obligation, client/producer of plans
The Law requires preparation of the National plan; district plans, local municipal (cities, towns, rural areas) plans general plans.
Deadlines are not set.
The Government cannot directly force municipality to produce a plan (unless relevant financing is allocated). The indirect way is set by the Regulations if a specific object (nuclear power plant, for instance) is foreseen in a plan of a higher level, the lower level plan should follow the requirements of the higher one, but it does not require time limit when the plan of the lower level shall be ready.
Existing regulations do not specify when preparation of detailed plans is obligatory. Territories for which preparation of detailed plans is required are defined in the municipal plan (general plan).
Every level of power (Cabinet of Ministers, district councils, councils of local municipalities) has the right to decide about initiation of planning on their respective levels, lower level authorities have the right to initiate alterations in higher level plans. Every legal or physical person has the right to initiate preparation of detailed plans.
Authorities responsible for preparation of plans are relevant ministries, district council, Council of Planning Region, councils of relevant municipalities.
Preparation of plans is financed from the state budget (national level, partly municipal planning) and municipal budgets (planning region, district and municipal plans).
Private as well as juridical entities have the right to initiate production of a detailed plan and to finance the planning work (according to the Regulations). However, the municipality remains the responsible decisive authority. The Regulations for such plans are stricter concerning public discussion of plans.
3. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the planning process
The EIA process is determined by the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment. Physical planning in the Act is mentioned among the possible activities (paredzeta riciba), which cause impact on the environment for EIA.
EIA and planning are parallel processes.
There are no specific requirements for planning in the EIA Act and the respective Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers.
4. Main rules of co-operation and public participation
For the National plan, public discussion is organised in mass media mostly. The Regulations also require specific procedures for different parts of the National plan:
- The summary of the report on use of the state territory shall be published in the official newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis and in the magazine Logs published by the Municipal Governments Association;
- the first draft of the the development perspective of the state territory shall be
sent out to Ministries and municipalities so that they can give their opinions;
each of the prepared physical plans of national significance areas (the second
draft) and it shall be indicated where it is possible to get acquainted with the text
of the corresponding physical plan of national significance and to submit written
statements within eight weeks;
- in the Latvijas vestnesis the announcement shall be published about the prepared Perspective (the second draft) and it shall be indicated where it is possible to get acquainted with the text of the Perspective and to submit written statements within eight weeks;
- a report about public consultation of the Perspective shall be published in the newspaper Latvijas vestnesis and submitted to the Steering Group;
- when preparation of a plan for areas of national significance has begun, municipalities of national cities and district municipalities shall be asked to submit proposals within four weeks;
- the first draft of each physical plan of national significance shall be sent for evaluation to ministries and municipalities of national cities and districts, they shall be asked to submit their statements within eight weeks;
- announcement shall be published in the newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis about
- a report about public consultation of the physical plans of areas of national significance shall be published in the newspaper Latvijas vestnesis and submitted to the Steering Group;
In general, there are two phases of public participation in the municipal (regional, district and local municipal) planning process:
1) The first phase takes place in the beginning of planning process, i.e. when the preparation of the plan is officially started:
The producer of the plan (municipality) shall inform the community and shall organise public consultation about the issues of the plan. The municipality shall publish the announcement about the beginning of plan production (a call for proposals from the public) in the local newspaper. Councils of planning regions, municipalities of districts and national cities shall publish the announcement also in the newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis.
2) Municipality shall organise the public discussion of the first draft plan. At least one week before the beginning of public discussion the municipality publishes the announcement about the public discussion of the first draft plan in the newspaper "Latvijas Vestnesis" and the local newspaper. The announcement should include:
- the fixed period of time for public discussion of the physical plan
(not less than 8 weeks) up to the deadline of presentation of the
produced physical plan and of submission of written proposals by
- the location of plan display;
- display time of the physical plan (not shorter than 4 weeks and
not less than 8 hours a day, also the places and time of discussion meetings);
- the time and place of the meeting at which the plan is submitted
to the municipal council for decision-making;
- requirements on submission of proposals if a person who submits the proposal wants to receive a written answer;
- other information about public discussion.
In four weeks after the public discussion, report shall be prepared including:
- program of public discussion;
- announcements and publications in the press;
- written proposals and answers to them;
- report where the process of public discussion, public activity, issues which triggered public interest the most, etc. shall be described;
- other materials which authors of the report consider to be important.
At least one display of the plan shall be organised during public discussion.
There are no limitations concerning participation. Municipality can reject any objections and proposals which are not submitted in the order and according to the terms determined by the Regulations (after expiry of the time given, without name and address, etc., - the requirements should be published in a newspaper).
Municipality shall give an answer to a written proposal/objection, if it is asked for in the proposal and if the written proposal is submitted in time.
If there is a disputable issue, it can be included in the plan of a higher level (for instance, if the local rural municipality cannot agree with the neighbouring municipalities about the location of the road crossing the municipal border, the issue of the location of the road can be solved in the district plan). There is a possibility to submit objections concerning the decision of the municipality to the Minister of Environmental Protections and Regional Development. The final step is to take the municipality to court.
5. Approval/concordance of plans
National plan shall be co-ordinated with other ministries and the Municipal Governments Association, if necessary consultation can be made also with municipalities.
Municipal plans (also district plans and regional plans for planning regions) shall be co-ordinated with:
the neighbouring municipalities (district plans - with neighbouring districts and national cities);
sectoral authorities (state institutions) i.e., regional environmental board, State Inspection of Cultural Monuments, the Administration of Road Traffic Security, the Road Administration, the local institution of the State Environmental Health Centre, the local division of the State Land Service, the district institution of the State Fire Works and Rescue Service. Also other institutions can be mentioned in the tasks for plan preparation. (The municipality prepares a work task when starting planning).
The concordance procedure is the following: the above-mentioned institutions at the request of the municipality shall submit planning tasks in 4 weeks time (terms, requirements, etc.,) for preparation of physical plan and in 8 weeks time shall submit statement about the prepared first draft physical plan (for the following draft plans and detail plans - in four weeks).
The list of institutions that detail plans shall be co-ordinated with is given in the work task. In case the producer of a plan is the party interested in planning and building, detailed plans shall be co-ordinated also with the landowners in the planned territory and owner of neighbouring plots.
However, approval of the institutions, municipalities and persons mentioned is not obligatory for the validity of the plan. Observation of the requirements that are in accordance with the law or the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers is obligatory. Other requirements, proposals, etc., in the statements of institutions have but advisory status.
The co-ordination process takes place before public discussion: in general state authorities issue their specific terms/requirements for plan preparation and give comments (statements) about the plan prepared. The comments shall be included in the set of materials displayed for public discussion.
Settling of disputes is not specifically determined in general, the process is the same as described in Chapter 4 (public discussion).
6. Supervision of plans/prerequisite for enforcement
There is no special supervising body neither procedure for supervision before enforcement of the plan (the co-ordination procedure with state institutions is described above).
7. Enforcement and validity of plans
National plan by the Cabinet of Ministers;
Regional plan by the Council of the Planning Region (to become valid in the administrative territories of the parties involved in the region, the plan shall be adopted by the municipalities (districts, national cities) of the participants of the region);
District plan by District Council;
Municipal plans (national city and local municipality general plan, detailed plan) by the Municipality concerned.
There are no specifications about those who are allowed to appeal the plan. The first step is to write objections to the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.
Plans not enforced have no status.
Alteration of enforced plans
National plan - by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development; also district and regional plans can contain proposals for alterations in the National plan;
Regional plan - by the Council of the Planning Region, parties involved (municipalities of districts and national cities); district plans can contain proposals for alterations in the regional plan;
District plan - by District Municipality Council; local municipal (town, pagasts, novads) general plan can contain proposals for alterations in the district plan;
Municipal general plans - by the local Municipality concerned;
Detailed plans - by the local Municipality concerned.
Validity of plans
National plan - no specific time mentioned, upon necessity;
Regional plan - no specific time mentioned, upon necessity;
District plan - local municipal general plan - perspective time is 12 years; the plans shall be also examined after every municipal election (every 4 years);
Detailed plan - no specific time mentioned, upon necessity.
A valid plan can be repealed
- automatically - when a new plan is adopted;
- the Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development can suspend a physical plan in the following cases:
- the physical plan does not correspond to legal acts;
- the procedure of physical plan production determined in the Regulations and other legal acts has not been observed.
8. Legal impact of different plans
National plan enforced by the Cabinet is binding to all administrative bodies; enforced national plan is the binding basis for regional and district planning; national planning has no direct impact on property owners.
Regional plan is binding for the authority, which has adopted the plan (districts and national cities); enforced regional and district plans are the binding basis for comprehensive planning; regional and district plans do not have direct impact on property owners.
District plan is binding for the district municipality and local municipalities within the district, when preparing their plans.
Requirements of the enforced general and detailed plans which are adopted as binding regulation of the municipality, are binding for all administrative bodies dealing with land development matters; an enforced general plan is the binding basis for detailed planning; municipal (general) plans contain regulation binding for legal bodies (physical persons and legal entities); detailed plans form the basis for building projects and for issuing of building permits.
9. Compensation for damage caused by planning restrictions
Compensation for damage caused by planning is applied in the form of immovable property tax reduction.
If the landowner is not satisfied with the tax applied, he submits written application to the responsible official in the municipality concerned. The property owner can make a complaint to the Head of the Municipality (Mayer of the national city or town, head of the local municipality council) if he does not agree with the decision of the responsible official. The Head of the Municipality (Mayer of the National City or local municipality council) shall make the final decision.
The law requires that in case of expropriation of fixed assets the compensation rate shall be accounted according to the market value.
10. Obligation to review enforced plans
Main tasks of review are not specifically defined, except for the case if a plan of a higher level comes into force then the lower level plan shall be revised and harmonised with the higher one.
Review periods are the following:
national plan no exact period determined; upon necessity;
district and local municipal plans - examined / revised (not necessarily amended or prepared anew) after each election (4 years);
Review report must be presented:
national plan Reports shall be published yearly in the newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis.;
municipal plan (including regional plan) - The decisions of municipalities made after examination of existing plans are sent to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Decisions (shortly after adoption) and reports (yearly) shall be published in newspapers (Latvijas Vestnesis, local newspapers).
11. Everybodys building right in rural areas
Everybodys building right is granted by the Civil Law, provided no specific restrictions/regulations exist.
The Civil Law, special laws and binding regulations of municipalities (i.e., also municipal planning) are the juridical acts regulating building rights.
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