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Ongoing activities of territorial development management

26. July 2020 | Ing. Sandra Lamy

Spatial planning (hereinafter referred to as SP), the concept introduced in the previous issues of our magazine, is an integrative system which systematically and comprehensively addresses spatial organization and functional use of territory and coordinates activities affecting the environment, ecological stability, cultural and historical values of the territory, territorial development and landscape creation in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.

Territorial development in our country – is it rooted in history or is it just a fabrication of the present time?

The direction of spatial development in Slovakia follows the medieval traditions, as well as rich traditions dating back to the period of interwar Czechoslovakia, the period of the First Slovak Republic, but also post-war Czechoslovakia. The basics of urbanism (as we know it today) can be dated to the period of the First Slovak Republic, i.e. the period from 1918 to 1938. This period is characterized by extensive conceptual spatial planning in urban concepts and regional development, and was heavily influenced by the then-developing functionalism. Functionalism and its development was driven by technical progress and the need to solve a wide range of problems that arose in cities due to the development of industry and influx of people to the cities in the early 20th century. The challenges the spatial development faced in the interwar period were huge – construction of new industrial complexes, the need to build towns and villages on green meadows. In this context, the town of Svit, founded by J. A. Baťa, comes to mind. Apart from giving his employees a place to live, this world-famous entrepreneur also financed the elaboration of a prognostic document on the territorial development of Czechoslovakia presented to the public in 1937. Already at that time, this man made it clear that the territorial development of the country is a foundation of a prosperous state. Other important milestones of the territorial development include the following:

  • 1922: Masaryk Academy of Labor – establishment of the Czechoslovak Institute for Urban Construction
  • 1945: establishment of the Landscaping and Planning Institute in Prague; State Planning Office in Bratislava
  • 1948: Act on Spatial Planning and Development of Municipalities, the first legal regulation of the SP; it responded to the need to regulate the dynamic post-war development of settlements; its was subsequently influenced by the emerging totalitarian regime.
  • 1958: Act no. 84/1958 Coll. on Spatial Planning degraded the SP to “a projection of the national economic plan” and introduced a hierarchy of binding planning documents; in this period, the development of cities and municipalities was managed on the basis of regulatory plans. The main task of these plans was to create space for own construction plans; at that time the first regional plans were prepared at the level of higher territorial units
  • 1957 and 1961: elaboration of the Perspective Development Plan of Slovakia, which was followed by territorial studies of districts
  • XX’s – the State Institutes of District Planning in Prague and Bratislava elaborated the national planning document „R-projekt“ – territorial-technical documents for the assessment and elaboration of the concept of strategic constructions; in the second half of the decade, works began on the “Urbanization Project”; subsequently, the spatial planning system was reflected in the spatial planning practice (social and technical infrastructure investment plans were drawn up to ensure the efficiency of its operation and equal access of the population to the services provided. However, the efforts were ideologically motivated)
  • 1971: the government of the SSR adopted the Principles of the Main Directions of Urbanization in Slovakia, the settlement project and the design of the settlement network in Slovakia were drawn up – these marked the second stage of the Study of Regional Development Opportunities
  • 1976: the government of the SSR approved the Territorial-Technical Basis – the first national comprehensive report on the settlement and urbanization. The document later served as a basis for spatial planning documentation and the elaboration of a spatial concept of strategic construction
  • 1983 and 1988: periodic updates of the SSR Urbanization Project (heavily influenced by the then-system)
  • 1976: adoption of Act no. 50/1976 Coll. on Spatial Planning and Building Regulations, which for its time was extremely progressive and comparable in content with spatial planning standards in the developed European countries. For this reason, it remained in force (following several amendments) as one of the few standards adopted prior 1989
  •  1991 – 2001: elaboration of the theoretical-methodological concept of the Settlement Development Strategy under changed conditions, subsequently the Settlement Development Strategy of the Slovak Republic – it was incorporated into the system of spatial planning documentation under the name the Concept of Spatial Development of Slovakia (the second and third proposals set out the main directions and principles of comprehensive spatial development with emphasis on the development of the settlement system of the Slovak Republic) – to ensure it is regularly updated, the system started to be used at the workplaces of the Slovak Environment Agency. Following meticulous research, the Strategy of Spatial Development of Slovakia was drawn up; Act no. 302/2001 on Self-Government of Higher Territorial Units established a strategy of regional self-government
  • 2006: establishment of the Institute of Urbanism and SP – URBION, as a contributory organization of the Ministry of Construction and Regional Development of the Slovak Republic, which was, however, abolished in 2013
  • 2010: establishment of the Institute of Urban Development. Its main objective is to set up a partnership between the public, government institutions, local governments and the developers based on mutual trust and understanding
  • 2018: publication of the book Plan Bratislava – 76 professionals worked together to create a comprehensive vision for the capital and its future development
  • 2019: the establishment of the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava. The Institute focuses on strategic planning and is also a center of innovation, a tool for making a Bratislava into a competitive city among the most advanced metropolises
  • 2020 – future: Plan Bratislava 2030 – a basis for future strategic planning based on dialogue between the city and its residents; Territorial forecast of the development of the capital until 2050 as a basis for elaboration of a new territorial plan of the city. The main goal of the plan is to focus on long-term development of the city as a core city of the metropolitan region and the republic; a new separate building law and a new law on spatial planning under which municipalities would be obligated to develop a zoning plan for all municipalities (currently only about 50% of municipalities have a zoning plan). At the same time, the plan should address the current concepts and elements of urban planning

From the point of view of the current SP system and its legislative framework, the most important legal norms related to Act no. 50/1976 are: Act on Municipal Establishment, Act on Environmental Impact Assessment, Act on Registered Architects and Civil Engineers, Act on Land Registry and Registration of Ownership and Other Works related to Real Estate, Act on Protection and Use of Agricultural Land, Act on Nature and Landscape Protection, the Act on the Protection of the Monument Fund, the Act on Forests, etc ….

One-off or ongoing activity?

It should be borne in mind that SP is not a one-off activity, like an elaboration of a plan is. It is an ongoing activity of territorial development management which includes the following sub-activities: territory monitoring, its functional use and development of needs, as well as interests in its use, planning activities, elaboration of the plan, as well as management of spatial arrangement and functional use of the territory so that the principles and goals defined by the plan itself are respected. Its basic tools include: spatial planning documentation and zoning decisions. The underlying documentation within the SP system are: an urban study, a territorial forecast, territorial-technical documents, as well as other documents, e.g. sustainable development strategies, environmental action plans and sectoral concepts, landscaping projects, regional development strategies and programs, etc. The spatial planning documentation system stands on the following basic processes: procurement, processing, public discussion, comments and approval of spatial planning/ zoning documentation on 4 levels: the Concept of Territorial Development of Slovakia, the Spatial Plan of the Region, Municipality and Zone. The SP plans are reviewed under the territorial and zoning proceedings. If the plan is approved, a territorial decision (on the location of the building, land use, protected part of the landscape, building ban) is issued by the relevant building authority to protect the interests of the parties already involved in the territory. The common denominator of the objectives of the SP is to respect the 3 basic pillars of sustainable development, namely the social, economic and environmental sustainability of spatial development.

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