The urban register and instruments of public participation | In Principle

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The urban register and instruments of public participation

The recent overhaul of the Planning and Spatial Development Act tidied up and streamlined the planning procedure. In addition to revolutionary changes, such as replacement of the zoning study with the master plan and commune development strategy, as well as introduction of integrated development plans as a special type of local zoning plan prepared at the initiative of private investors, a nationwide urban planning register was introduced, and the catalogue of tools for public participation in land use and development issues was expanded.

Public participation

Public participation in land use and development processes is a concept that is well-known in Polish legislation, for example under the Revitalisation Act of 9 October 2015. As civic awareness grows, so does the role of dialogue about the real needs of local communities, taking all social groups into account. The main goal of the changes in this area is to make a more accurate diagnosis of the situation and a more complete analysis of the residents’ real needs. Additionally, the amendment allows stakeholders not only to participate in public consultations, but also to submit comments and proposals.

Who counts as a stakeholder? The concept introduced by the amendment includes among people allowed to participate all natural persons (including those with limited legal capacity), legal persons, organisational units with legal capacity (e.g. associations), local government units and authorities.

Forms of public participation in force include:

  • Submitting comments on draft zoning measures
  • Open meetings
  • Outdoor meetings
  • Meetings with the designer
  • Questionnaires and geo-questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Running a consultation point
  • Open-door office hours for the designer.

The forms of conducting public consultations are detailed in Art. 8i(1)–(2) of the Spatial Planning and Development Act. The provisions also allow other forms of public participation not specified in the act, and state that in the planning procedure, not all forms must be used every time.

Applications and comments on a draft zoning measure are to be submitted in writing (hard copy or electronically, e.g. email), or using a paper or electronic template to be adopted by a ministerial regulation.

The manner of participation is intended to help achieve social consensus and improve the sustainability of planning solutions while minimising social conflicts.

Before public consultations begin, a list of applications on the draft zoning measure will be prepared, along with a proposal for how they should be dealt with and a justification.

Information on the conduct of public consultations is to be published in the press and displayed in a visible place in the area covered by the zoning measure. The information will also be available at the office of the public body involved in the procedure, on its website, and in the Public Information Bulletin. Information on the planned participatory activities must be provided no later than the date of the start of these activities (not seven days in advance, as under prior law), effectively extending the consultation period to 28 days.

Prior to presentation of a draft zoning measure to the commune council, a report summarising the course of public consultations is drawn up, including a list of comments made, along with a proposal for how they should be addressed and a justification, as well as minutes of the acts carried out as part of the consultations. The amendment maintains the previous rule prohibiting an appeal to the administrative court against a ruling on an application or comment submitted regarding a draft zoning measure.

Urban register

Starting 1 January 2026, the amendment introduces a nationwide urban register ensuring universal accessibility to urban planning data. Maintained in an ICT system, the register is intended to be a free and open reference source of planning and zoning information and data.

There is a need for a unified zoning dataset in both central and local government administration, as well as in the business community. Establishment of the register as a reliable source of data and information is intended to increase the efficiency of spatial management, facilitate public participation, ensure the transparency of planning procedures, and expedite the land development process.

The catalogue of mandatory documents to be made available in the register is defined by the act. Among other things, these include draft zoning measures and enacted zoning measures along with the justification, applications for planning permits and zoning permits, and zoning acts. Bodies responsible for preparing zoning measures will be required to enter data and information in the register, while administrative courts will be exempt from this duty.

The detailed scope and the procedure for creating, updating and providing access to data in the register are to be specified in a regulation by the minister for construction, planning and housing.


Public consultations are not a new element of the planning procedure in Poland. Under existing law, drafts of zoning measures were presented for public inspection, public discussion of measures was allowed, and applications and comments on the draft measure could be submitted. The amendment does some housekeeping in this area and expands the catalogue of public participation activities. It also grants certain social groups the initiative to file an application to launch a planning procedure, which should be viewed positively.

Creation of an urban planning register maintained at the central level, as a repository for both drafts and existing urban planning measures, should be applauded. Certainly, this solution will increase the accessibility of zoning measures and make it easier for investors to quickly obtain information about the property they are interested in developing.

Sylwia Moreu-Żak, attorney-at-law, Mateusz Orłowski, Real Estate practice, Wardyński & Partners