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    1. Basic Principles of RF Urban Development Code and Basic Tasks of Different Plans

Basic Principles

The RF Urban Development Code stipulates the multilevel system of urban development planning documents from the scheme of national scale up to detailed plans of cities and settlements. The Code designates denominations and content for these documents. At the same time the Code allows at any level to adopt other urban planning documents not listed in an explicit way, e.g. to adopt plans for the parts of administrative territories or thematic plans. The Code states that any planning and development document shall observe the provisions of valid plans and nothing in the law prevents modification of documents previously adopted.

National Planning Guidelines

“General Settlement Development Scheme for the RF Territory” shall be enforced by the RF Government. The Scheme identifies

  • national urban development politics, political goals and implementation arrangements;
  • classification of territories;
  • general provisions for development of the settlement system;
  • arrangements dedicated to improvement of national-scale infrastructure;
  • arrangements dedicated to improvement of the ecological situation, nature preservation, cultural heritage preservation.

Plan for RF Subject

“Territorial Comprehensive Scheme (TCS) for Urban Planning and Development of the RF Subject Area” shall be enacted by the RF subject. The Code allows to enact the TCS for a part of the RF subject area. In case the TCS expands to areas subject to neighboring administrative territories, it shall be approved by the governments concerned. The TCS of the RF subject level shall be approved by the municipalities concerned. The TCS shall contain

  • urban development policies for the area considered;
  • prospective zoning;
  • general provisions for development of the settlement system, industry, public infrastructure on the RF subject scale;
  • general provisions for protection of territories against extraordinary situations of natural or technical origin;
  • arrangements to improve the ecological situation, nature preservation, cultural heritage preservation;
  • proposals regarding settlement boundaries and suburban areas for cities;
  • proposals regarding resources for development of territories.

Municipal District Plan

“Territorial Comprehensive Scheme (TCS) for Urban Planning and Development of Municipal Area” shall be adopted by municipality. It contains the following:

  • arrangements for urban development policy implementation;
  • prospective zoning and essential land use restrictions;
  • arrangements for protection of territories against extraordinary situations;
  • general provisions for development of inter-settlement infrastructures;
  • territorial reserves for growth of settlements;
  • territories designated for single-family housing, summer houses, gardening, recreation.

Plan for Municipal Settlement or City

“Settlement/City General Plan”. The general plan shall provide

  • a general framework for territorial development;
  • prospective zoning and essential land use restrictions;
  • arrangements for protection of territories against extraordinary situations;
  • the ratio between built up areas and the total territory considered for planning;
  • territorial reserves for prospective expansion of a settlement/city;
  • other arrangements of importance for urban development.

Detailed Plans

Under the denomination of “detailed plans” (the term is not used in the RF Urban Development Code) one may consider two types of documents, identified by the RF Code.

The first type is represented by Urban Land Use and Development Regulations (Zoning Regulations/Plan), i.e. documentation imposing on all the parties involved requirements for land use and construction parameters. In accordance with the Code, Urban Land Use and Development Regulations shall be accepted as part of the Urban Development Ordinance, including

  • a map with zoning districts (zone boundaries and zone codes);
  • urban land use and development requirements effective for all lots within each zoning district;
  • relevant information on other requirements, not represented in the Regulations in an explicit way (heritage protection, nature preservation, etc.);
  • set of procedures applicable to the process of permit issue.

The second type of detailed plans identified by the Code is represented by urban area planning and development documentation. This includes area planning documentation essentially dedicated to reservation of territories for public use, more detailed area development projects, subdivision plans. These documents designate different parameters for future design documentation. Detailed plans of the kind shall comply with the provisions and requirements of the Urban Development Ordinance (and Zoning Regulations within it).

    2. Planning Obligation, Client/Producer of Plans

The Urban Development Code neither provides time limits for preparing and approving urban development documentation nor mentions the right of the RF subjects to require acceptance of any document within certain time limits by municipalities. At the same time the RF subjects may, according to local law, establish time limits for themselves or for the municipalities concerned. In addition, production and acceptance of general plans for settlements and cities (municipal level is competent to exercise control over building activity) should be accomplished as soon as possible. The reason for that being is that according to the RF Urban Development Code use of land plots shall be established by the Urban Development Ordinance (and Zoning Regulations within it) and the Zoning Regulations shall meet the general plan provisions. Frankly speaking, the current issue of building permits for the majority of municipalities in Russia shall be considered illegal because compliance is required with documents that do not exist yet at all. The urgency for TCS-level documents to be approved is not so great as large investments into infrastructure projects are too scarce.

In compliance with the RF Urban Development Code each level of public authority approves documentation related to the areas within the territorial boundaries of its competency. On the national level it is the RF Government, for lower levels the authorities are not specified by RF Code but shall be identified by the RF subjects laws.

The urban plans for areas (area development plans) including subdivision plans may be enacted by any party after due approval by competent public bodies (responsible for urban development control, for monuments preservation, for public property, etc.).

    3. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The RF Urban Development Code stipulates the obligations of urban development actors to meet the requirements regarding the natural environment preservation as well as obligatory examination of the urban plans and design documentation by the environmental impact assessment authorities. There is an act “On Environmental Impact Assessment” (1995), the details of which like control parameters and applicable procedures are specified by the legal acts enforced at different levels. The state cross-departmental assessment authorities are monitoring the compliance of any urban development or site development documentation (with the exception of single-family houses) with environmental laws and regulations. The administrative status of the Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (of the Federal or RF subject level) to perform examination in each case is in accordance with the status of the documentation considered. Dependence of criteria applicable by experts on the type of the document under examination is not specified by legal acts but in practice they are in compliance with the applicability of the legislative base to urban development documentation of different scales or to the construction design documentation.

    4. Main Rules of Co-operation and Public Participation


The basic principles of co-operation between urban development actors are stipulated in the RF Urban Development Code in a very general manner. Production and implementation of the documents is carried out under the agreement of public authorities whose interests are directly affected. The RF Code mentions joint TCS for two or more RF subjects or the same for two or more municipalities as eligible planning documentation.

Public Participation

With the RF Urban Development Code the following rights are granted to every RF citizen as well as their associations:

  • to have access to complete and valid information regarding urban environment and expected changes to it;
  • to participate in discussions on urban development documentation prior to adoption, to attend public hearings on urban development issues, to submit proposals regarding the discussed documents to be considered by competent bodies;
  • to perform public examination of urban development and design documentation (at the expense of the initiator);
  • to appeal administrative decisions on urban development;
  • to get compensation for damages caused by urban development.

The set of procedures for public participation is not specified by the RF Code, except that information dissemination shall be the responsibility of the authorities of urban development and architecture on all levels. Preparation of acts concerning public participation may be performed at any level, some cities today have already adopted relevant acts or will do it in the near future.

    5. Approval of Plans

The set of approval procedures for the “General Settlement Development Scheme for the RF Territory” is not identified but according to the RF Code shall be identified by the RF Government. The General Provisions of the “General Scheme” after due approval by the RF Government are to be published. Clients who have initiated production of other urban development documents are obliged to get approval from executive authorities of the areas concerned as well as to perform public discussions on documents prepared. Today, when cases of big plans being produced are scarce, it is difficult to foresee how actors will observe the liberal requirement to get the approval of authorities responsible for any municipal area concerned. How often RF subject authority will be ready to compensate insertion of some unattractive object upon municipal territory and how often this authority will prefer to rely on other tools to achieve its goals, remains to be seen. According to the RF Code any party may bring an action against administrative decisions, prosecute abrogation of the plan adopted or suspending of construction works, to get due compensation for the damage caused by urban development. At the same time, resulting from the too general stipulations on approval (e.g. it is not clear if there is a possibility to appeal the motives for refusal to approve, the time limits for approval are not specified, etc.), the court verdicts may vary.

In cases the city plan is expanding to the suburban area outside the municipal boundaries, such a plan shall be based on agreement between the affected municipalities and its acceptance relied upon the RF subject. The general plan limited by municipal boundaries shall be adopted by the municipality concerned. If planning documentation is developed to modify administrative boundaries, the final resolution is to be issued by the body of higher level - for municipal boundaries by the RF subject, for the RF subjects - by the National Government.

Approval of urban development plans by neighbouring communities, in case the plan does not affect them in an explicit way (does not expand to their territory), is not stipulated in the RF Code. The timeframe for acquiring the approval is not mentioned either. In practice, approval of all documents assumes prior Environmental Impact Assessment.

All urban development documentation shall be approved by agencies of federal state supervisory authorities like bodies responsible for sanitary and health control, for protection of the natural environment and resources, for use and preservation of historical and cultural monuments, for home affairs.

    6. Supervision of Plans/Prerequisite for Enforcement

Any urban development plan after Environmental Impact Assessment and before its approval shall be submitted for examination to the State Cross-Departmental Assessment Body. The time for these examinations is determined by the act “On Environmental Impact Assessment” (1995), which states that experts on environmental impact are able to require the report on public proceedings and to consider opinions stated in their resolution. The competent body for examination in case of national documentation is the Federal Cross-Departmental Assessment Body, in case of documents issued by the RF subjects and municipalities - territorial cross-departmental assessment divisions (the level of RF subject or region with two or more RF subjects). The legal motive for a negative resolution of the Assessment Commission is proof that the document examined does not meet the requirements imposed with valid legislation. Public response shall be considered by the Commission as far as opinions expressed are based on legal acts. Experts who keep their own opinion file their responses to the Commission’s resolution, signed by the head of the Commission. The Commission’s resolution may be appealed in court during one month after its issuance.

    7. Enforcement and Validity of Plans


“General Settlement Development Scheme for the RF Territory” shall be adopted by the RF Government, the level of authorities competent to adopt all other plans according to the RF Code must correspond to the level of documentation. The authority eligible for adoption shall be identified on the basis of RF subject acts. For regional planning documentation covering more than one RF subject, the competent for adoption authority shall be identified by the RF Government.

Any party may appeal the plan adopted if proven that adoption does not comply with valid legislation.

Documentation not adopted in compliance with the legal procedure is not valid.

Alteration of Adopted Plans

Alterations to a valid plan can be introduced by authorities responsible for adoption of the plan. Alterations initiated by RF subjects and municipalities shall be reviewed by the public concerned.

Validity of Plans

A plan may be abrogated by the authority having adopted the document or by a court verdict.

    8. Legal Impact of Different Plans

Urban development plans of national scale like TCS developed both for RF subjects and on the municipal level, as well as general plans for settlements and their parts do not have direct legal implications for such actors as real property owners or developers. The above-listed planning documents are obligatory only for institutions responsible for their implementation to the extent that these documents cover areas of their responsibility - the general provisions of the adopted documents shall be observed in a due way, otherwise former documents shall be abrogated. Being accessible to any other party, these planning documents serve as tools to monitor the consistency of urban development policy declared by public authorities. Yet neither the criteria of compliance nor the institution to consider sufficiency of compliance are specified in the legislation.

Only detailed plans of the Zoning Regulations type enacted as part of the Urban Development Ordinance have direct legal implications for all actors, including real property owners and developers. The Zoning Regulations shall comply with the provisions of the general plan of a city or a settlement (specifically - with the scheme of the prospective land use).

Documents like detailed plans for urban development, produced and adopted by the client (including City), shall meet requirements of the Urban Development Ordinance and may be abrogated or modified by the party responsible for its adoption.

    9. Compensation for Damage Caused by Planning Restrictions

Legislation does not ensure compensation for losses caused by urban development requirements and restrictions established by the Urban Development Ordinance. According to the RF Civil Code (1994) any easement shall be based on agreement between the parties concerned - hence compensation obligations shall be settled by agreement. The RF Urban Development Code ensures obligation for compensation in case urban development actions result in significant deterioration of living conditions.

Expropriation of real property for state or municipal usage by the RF Civil Code involves obligatory compensation for all losses. The expropriation resolution shall be issued not less than one year before expropriation.

    10. Obligation to Review Enforced Plans

The current urban development legislation does not provide direct obligations to review urban development plans within certain time periods or for any other reason, with the exception of a court verdict.

    11. Everybody’s Building Right in Rural Areas

The current urban development legislation does not specify building rights for rural areas. In practice provisions enacted by municipal authorities are applied which according to the valid urban development documentation allocate the land and approve design parameters. Building permits should be granted with account taken of the opinions of local government authorities. District departments of public utilities issue technical specifications for connection to public technical networks. Designs should be submitted to the inter-departmental committee at the relevant municipality.


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