REALWorld Law

Planning / zoning

Applicable legislation and governance

In outline, what legislative and governmental controls apply to strategic planning/zoning across regions and in localities?



In Angola the land originally belongs to the state and strategic planning/zoning is mainly governed by a planning policy, framed by law – Law on Land and Urban Planning, Land Law and General Regulations on Territorial, Urban and Rural Planning – which is implemented through national, sectorial, special, provincial and local development and urban plans. Yet, only a small number of the development and urban plans foreseen in the law is in force. While there are no conditions to the full implementation of the planning system the planning or zoning may be governed by supplementary or contractual instruments.

At the end of 2015 the Master General Plan of the Metropolitan Area of Luanda (Plano Director Geral Metropolitano de Luanda) was approved. This provides the guiding principles for the growth of the Angolan capital and sets out the means and actions to be implemented by 2030.



Planning/zoning controls are the responsibility of local governmental bodies. In the City of Buenos Aires, the two main regulations are the Código Urbanistico (Act N° 6,588) which regulates planning/zoning issues and the Código de Edificación (Act N° 6,100), which mainly regulates constructions matters.



Town planning and development control in Australia is undertaken at a state and territory level. Each state and territory has a legislative framework which imposes planning and zoning controls, generally on the basis of each local government area or municipality.

In almost all parts of Australia, each local government area or municipality has a local planning regime (variously called planning schemes, environmental planning instruments or development plans depending on the state or territory jurisdiction) which controls the use and development of land. These controls are based on state legislation.



In Belgium, each region is authorized to regulate its own zoning and planning. The regions and their most important legislation are:

  • The Flemish Region: The Flemish Public Planning Code of 15 May 2009 and the Decree on Integrated Environmental Permits of 25 April 2014;
  • The Walloon Region
    • The Code for Territorial Development of 20 July 2016;
  • The Brussels Capital Region
    • The Brussels Code regarding Public Planning of 9 April 2004

The local authorities (provinces and municipalities) will apply the regional legislation and can make their own initiatives regarding planning.



Local planning/zoning is generally under the jurisdiction of the relevant municipality but in some cases is dealt with by the canton or entity. Planning/zoning must be approved by the relevant authorities (normally the municipality) and its relevant administrative body before any construction work is carried out.



In general, each city has its own zoning rules. The Federal Constitution conferred on the municipalities the competence to carry out urban planning through law and other normative acts. Even so, all municipal statutes must comply with the general precepts of the Federal Constitution. It should be noted that there is a Federal Law establishing general rules for the development of the cities, related to public order rules and social interest that regulate the use of urban property in favour of the collective good, security and well-being of citizens, as well as environmental balance, known as City Statute (Estatuto da Cidade).



Strategic planning/zoning in Canada is undertaken primarily at the local level by municipal or regional governments. The authority for such local governance is derived from, and defined by, the laws of the province within which the property is located, and so can vary in both substance and procedure across provinces.

Generally, provincial legislative schemes empower or require local governments to enact local comprehensive planning and policy documents (variously called growth strategies, official plans, official community plans or development plans depending on the jurisdiction), which establish a broad policy framework and objectives to guide development in the local area. Such general and policy documents are usually implemented by detailed land use regulation such as zoning and subdivision by-laws, which have the force of law and directly impact the development rights of landowners.

While provincial governments have largely delegated their jurisdiction over land use and development control to local governments, provincial governments may directly exercise authority over land use in a number of matters such as agricultural land, riparian land, environmental protection, expropriations, heritage sites, highways and provincially significant projects.

Additionally, federal authorities exercise a level of land use control in the areas of navigable water, communications, certain aspects of environmental protection, and aeronautics, among other areas, which impact the use and development of private property.

Aboriginal lands in Canada are governed under land regimes that differ significantly from the provincial planning and zoning legislation and controls described in this chapter. The applicable controls and requirements for development on Aboriginal lands can only be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the location and nature of the development.



The primary legislation governing urban planning matters is the Urban Planning Law of the PRC which sets out the procedure and approval authority to determine the overall urban planning and the detailed planning for each development.  In summary, each city’s government has authority to formulate the overall planning for the city and the city’s planning authority has the authority to formulate detailed planning parameters for each development.



The most important national laws in Colombia related to strategic planning/zoning are:

  • Municipal development plans, acquisition, and expropriation – Law 9 of 1989
  • Land and Use Zoning Law – Law 388 of 1997 modified by Law 507 of 1999, Law 810 of 2003
  • Municipal and District Zoning Plans – Decree 879 of 1998, Law 1454 of 2011 and Decree 1232 of 2020
  • Planning permissions on rural land – Decree 97 of 2006
  • Partial plans – Decree 2181 of 2006 and Decree 4300 of 2007
  • Rural land zoning regulation – Decree 3600 of 2007 modified by Decree 4066 of 2008
  • Urban permits – Decree 1469 of 2010
  • Regulatory Decree of Housing, City and Territory – Decree 1077 of 2015


Municipalities, cities and districts have autonomy in matters of territorial planning. Based on this power, they are entitled to issue the zoning plan (plan de ordenamiento territorial) and different planning instruments that apply only to their territory.


To develop a construction project in Colombia, it is important to review not only the national regulations but also the regulations issued by the local authority of the municipality, city or district where the property is located.



Urban plans determine the structure and use of specific areas and provide regulations for the protection and development of the country, counties, municipalities and cities. Urban planning documents include:

  • The Planning Strategy and the Planning Programme for the Republic of Croatia
  • Urban plans including:
    • plans for the county and the city of Zagreb
    • for areas of special interest
    • municipal and city plans
    • an urban zoning plan
Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Strategic planning / zoning in the Czech Republic is governed by various legal regimes. Basic rules are in the form of:

  • Primary legislation (acts), and
  • secondary legislation (ie legislation subordinated to primary legislation created by relevant public authorities, such as national government and regional or municipal authorities. For strategic planning/zoning across regions and in localities in the Czech Republic, the most relevant secondary legislation is the legislation or regulation governing territorial planning / zoning.)

The basic elements of territorial planning/ zoning are the development policy and the planning documentation.

Development policy

The development policy lays down the requirements for implementing town and country planning objectives within the country and in a cross border and international context, especially in relation to sustainable development, and determines the appropriate strategy and basic conditions for its implementation.

The development policy is produced by the Ministry for Regional Development in relation to the whole of the territory of the Czech Republic and is approved by the national government.

The planning documentation

The planning documentation consists of the following elements:

  • development principles
  • territorial plans, and
  • regulatory plans

The national development policy mentioned above governs the production and issue of development principles, territorial plans, regulatory plans and decision-making in this area.

Development principles determine, in particular, the basic requirements for the functional and economic development of a given region, delimitation of areas or corridors of the supra local importance and determine the requirements for utilizing those areas and corridors.

A territorial plan sets out the basic concept for the development of the municipality, protection of its values, its layout, its landscape, and necessary public infrastructure; it delimits the developable area, other areas and corridors, especially areas with development potential and areas designated for alterations in existing development, for redevelopment or regeneration, for public works, for public benefit measures and to be maintained as regional reserves. It also determines the conditions for utilization of such areas and corridors.

The regulatory plan for a settled area determines the detailed conditions for the use of sites, for the location and spatial arrangement of structures, for the protection of values and the character of the area, and for the creation of a favourable environment. Decisions are commonly made by local building authorities at municipal level or in some cases at regional level (as is the case for zoning permission).



The Danish Planning Act, dated 1 July 2020, regulates planning at different levels throughout Denmark. According to the Planning Act, plans are implemented at three levels: national, municipal and local plans. The Planning Act deals with the hierarchy of the planning system, under which local authorities address regional and municipal issues, and prepare municipal plans and more specific local plans for each area. Local plans must comply with municipal plans, municipal plans must comply with regional plans and regional plans must comply with state plans. All plans must ultimately comply with the Planning Act. Regional regulation is now being addressed under state plans, and older regional plans have been upgraded to state plans.

As a general rule, a local plan will cover a smaller area of a municipality. Among other things, the local plan will include:

  • The use of the area
  • Measurements and boundaries of the property
  • The location, use, measurements and design of buildings


Strategic planning/zoning in France is governed by a combination of national and local regulations. The national regulations are contained in the French planning code (Code de l'urbanisme). The local regulations are mainly prescribed by the municipalities and are contained in local development plans (plans locaux d’urbanisme). Typical restrictions include those on height, location, parking spaces, exterior aspects, green areas etc.



Strategic planning/zoning in Germany is governed by federal statutory law, the relevant statutory law of each of the 16 German states (Bundesländer) and regional and local development plans (Flächennutzungsplan, Bebauungsplan).

Applicable codes of particular importance are:

  • Federal Planning Act (Raumordnungsgesetz)
  • Zoning codes of the German states (Landesplanungsgesetze)
  • Federal Building Code (Baugesetzbuch)
  • Federal Land Utilisation Ordinance (Baunutzungsverordnung).

In relation to permission for new construction, the refurbishment of buildings and safety in buildings the Building Codes of the German States  apply.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

Strategic planning/zoning in Hong Kong is governed by a combination of law and policy. The starting point is the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131 of the Laws of Hong Kong) and its derivative regulations, followed by development strategies at the territorial level and various types of statutory and departmental plans at the district or local level. The preparation of the plans is guided by the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, relevant development related policy and principles and community views.

In addition, the legislation allows certain statutory bodies to regulate land use and take actions against unauthorized land uses. The Town Planning Board has overall responsibility for statutory planning in Hong Kong.



The general sources of law in this regard are Act LXXVIII of 1997 on the Formation and Protection of the Built Environment and Government Decree No. 253/1997 on the National Settlement and Building Requirements (in Hungarian: OTÉK). These primary sources of zoning laws apply throughout the entire country.

Based on these primary sources, local governments and municipalities must adopt their structural plans, zoning maps and local building and townscape codes applying to the given locality or municipality.



Strategic planning/zoning in Ireland is governed by a combination of law and policy. Such law and policy is contained in primary legislation, secondary legislation, regulations and local area plans.

The main statutory provisions applicable to strategic planning and zoning include but are not limited to:

  • Planning and Development Act 2000 (the 2000 Act)
  • Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002
  • Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006
  • Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010
  • Environmental (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 (Commencement) (Part 5) (No. 2) Order 2011
  • Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015
  • Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2015
  • Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016
  • Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2017
  • Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018
  • Planning and Development Regulations 2001–2023
  • Planning and Development, and Residential Tenancies, Act 2020
  • Planning and Development, Heritage and Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2021
  • Planning and Development (Large Scale Residential Developments) Act 2021
  • Maritime Area Planning Act 2021
  • Planning and Development, Maritime and Valuation (Amendment) Act 2022
  • Planning and Development and Foreshore (Amendment) Act 2022
  • Historic and Archaeological Heritage and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023

Newly proposed amendments to planning legislation the Planning and Development Bill 2023 which amims to consolidate and revise the law relating to planning and development is currently before the Dail. It is anticipated that this new legislation will be passed before the end of 2024. The 2000 Act provides that each local planning authority must prepare a development (strategic/zoning) plan every six years for its administrative area.

The 2000 Act also provides that certain prescribed development agencies, a local authority or such other persons as may be prescribed may regulate development through what are commonly known as strategic development zones (SDZs). This is done where in the government’s opinion, specified development is of economic or social importance to the state.

The government will then designate one or more areas as SDZs to facilitate such development. This ensures governmental influence on planning decisions in such SDZs.

The 2010 Act made a number of significant changes to previous planning legislation and in particular to obligations placed on local authorities in relation to revising their respective development  plans and local area plans. Pursuant to the 2010 Act, local authorities are now obliged to set out a “core strategy” to ensure its compatibility with the national and regional development policies set out in the National Planning Framework and in Regional Planning Guidelines. Previously, local authorities only had to “have regard to” national and regional development policies.

The National Planning Framework, which replaces the previous National Spatial Strategy, was adopted in July 2018. The National Planning Framework will run for a period of 20 years, and brings together relevant government policies and related investment in relation to national and regional development.  This investment is underpinned in a development programme entitled Project Ireland 2040. It is focused on economic development and provides for increased investment in housing, water services, transport, communications, energy, health and education infrastructure.

When proposing zonings for residential or mixed residential use, local authorities are obliged under the 2010 Act to provide details of the location, the size of the area it proposes to rezone and to demonstrate how the zoning proposal accords with the national policy that development of land shall take place on a phased basis.

The 2010 Act also requires local authorities to comply with ministerial policies in relation to national and regional housing and population targets and to ensure their development plan is consistent with environmental protection and conservation, in particular the Habitats Directive.

The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is empowered to issue binding directions to planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála. Policy directives are binding directions to which planning authorities and the Board are obliged to adhere. However, this power has not been exercised widely. Another power, to direct changes to a planning authority’s development plan, arises where the Minister is satisfied that the development plan is deficient in some prescribed respects. This power has been utilised in a number of cases in recent years.

A simpler procedure is available to the Minister to make guidelines for planning authorities and the Board and this procedure is availed of widely. Planning authorities and the Board are obliged to "have regard to" guidelines in exercising any of their functions, but, they were not required to actually follow them. Under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2015, the Minister can make ‘specific planning policy requirements’ which have the following effects:

  1. they constrain planning authorities' normal discretion; they must be applied by a planning authority in deciding whether to grant planning permission; 
  2. where Specific Planning Policy Requirements conflict with any provision of a development plan, they apply instead of the conflicting development plan provisions; and
  3. where planning permission for an apartment block (of a kind governed by the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011) was granted before the introduction of applicable Specific Planning Policy Requirements, any application for an amending permission will be subject to a fast track procedure that can be appealed to the Board only in limited circumstances.

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 provides for the establishment and operation of the Office of the Planning Regulator; the inclusion of provisions for the National Planning Framework; and the inclusion of provisions for Marine Spatial Plans.

The Derelict Sites Act was also amended to provide for the derelict sites levy (7% of the market value of the urban land concerned in 2020 and any subsequent financial year).



Strategic planning/zoning in Italy is governed by a combination of law and policy at both national and regional level.

Such law and policy is contained in:

  • primary legislation
  • secondary legislation
  • regulations (regional and local development plans), and
  • circulars

In particular, the regions are given wide margins of discretion in disciplining such aspects, with the exception of the fundamental principles, which are set forth by national laws.

Each single municipality also has its own building regulations, which control and direct the growth of the urban centres and of the nearby areas.



Strategic planning/zoning in Japan is governed by a combination of national and local regulations. The national regulations mainly consist of (i) the Building Standards Act (BSA) and (ii) the City Planning Act (CPA).

The CPA divides lands in Japan into two types: City Planning Areas, which are regulated by the CPA; and Non-City Planning Areas, which are not regulated by the CPA.

The City Planning Areas further consist of Urbanization Promotion Areas where development is promoted and Urbanization Restricted Areas where development is restricted. 

The CPA designates 13 zoning districts within Urbanization Promotion Areas, and such zoning districts are largely categorized as three types: residential districts, commercial districts and industrial districts. The BSA governs types of buildings which can be built in each zoning districts designated by the CPA, such as use purposes, building coverage ratio and floor area ratio of a building.



Dutch planning law encompasses both zoning law – which governs the designation of specifically demarcated areas for particular uses and which is laid down in environmental plans – and public law permits governing specific activities (eg construction and demolition) and uses (eg manufacturing) which should be obtained by parties carrying out such activities or uses.

Both strategic planning/zoning and public law permits in the Netherlands are governed by a combination of law, by-laws and policy. The law and policy is contained in:

  • Primary legislation
  • Secondary legislation/decrees
  • Regulations/ordinances
  • Circulars
  • Planning policy statements
  • Regional and local development and environmental plans

Most of the Dutch planning and zoning law, as well as environmental laws (eg on soil and nature) are included in one overhauling piece of legislation in force as of 1 January 2024; the Environment & Planning Act.

Other: Nitrogen issues

Many of the Dutch protected nature area’s (Natura 2000-area) deal with nitrogen- related issues (such as significant negative effects to the flora and fauna present in these areas).

In response to this, the Dutch government introduced a compensation scheme of sorts (known as the programmatic approach on nitrogen (Programma Aanpak Stikstof, PAS)), which aimed to provide more space for (new) projects in return for other reductions/compensations (eg a promise of future reduction of nitrogen deposition in a different area of the country). This scheme was tested by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Following the ECJ responses to preliminary references on the legality of the Dutch PAS, in a 29 May 2019 hallmark decision the Dutch Council of State ruled that the PAS in its then current form was incompliant with European law and subsequently could not serve as the basis for activities which might have a significant impact on nitrogen-vulnerable habitats and would otherwise have been subject to appropriate assessment requirements (as mandated by the Habitat Directive). The PAS entailed a national appropriate assessment and inventory of nitrogen-vulnerable habitats and established measures that aimed to restore habitats, prevent nitrogen deposit effects and included autonomous developments expected to reduce nitrogen depositions. Under the PAS, relatively “limited” activities were only subject to a notification requirement (ie not requiring further appropriate assessment or measures) while other activities were subject to a permitting requirement (again, without further appropriate assessment being required).

While the ECJ did not consider a programmatic approach by itself to be incompliant with Dutch law, the Council of State considered that the appropriate assessment underlying the PAS was insufficient to meet the Habitat Directive’s requirements.

The judgment in principle affects any activity, permit or plan that was granted resulting in nitrogen deposition in Nature 2000 areas or used the PAS as a basis in relation to nitrogen deposition.  Pursuant to the judgment, activities allowed with only a notification or result in nitrogen deposition, according to the Council of State, cannot  been permitted and subsequently require a Nature Protection Act permit. The impact of this court case is still being felt and an important point of attention for any (re)development within the Netherlands. The Dutch government already took some measures and adopted some new laws to mitigate the effects of the aforementioned court case and is still actively working on measures to prevent the fallout of the judgment as much as possible.

In the past few years this has led to a stricter (nature) permitting regime to prevent further negative effects. As a consequence, for activities that may cause significant effects to these areas, it has become harder to obtain a permit. This includes both permits to the construction phase as well as the operational phase of a development. We note that this particular aspect is constantly changing and developing (due to new case law) and it is therefore recommend to obtain (case specific) advice regarding this topic.

New Zealand

New Zealand

Strategic planning and zoning in New Zealand is governed, in the most part, by the Resource Management Act 1991. In seeking to promote the purpose of sustainable management of natural and physical resources, the Act establishes a hierarchy of policy statements and plans. The policy statements and plans increase depending on content and locality, ranging from national policy statements and environmental standards to regional and district plans. Further applicable law and policy is contained in secondary legislation such as regulations and orders.



In Nigeria, land use, planning and zoning matters are residual matters in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and regulated under specific legislations promulgated by the respective States Houses of Assembly of the 36 states and the National Assembly for the planning and zoning matters in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The various states in Nigeria have enacted their own Physical Planning Laws which were adapted from the Federal Act (the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act No. 88 of 1992 (as amended by the Urban and Regional Planning Act No. 18 of 1999) with necessary amendments to suit the peculiar circumstances and realities. The present Physical Planning law in Lagos is the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development (Amendment) Law 2019.

The Land Use Act also plays a significant role in physical planning and zoning within the country as certain specific provisions of the Land Use Act must be complied with for successful formulation and implementation of land use and zoning policies. Section 28 (5) of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development (Amendment) Law 2019 makes it imperative that any Planning Permit granted shall satisfy the provisions of State Land Policy and the Land Use Act.

Generally, the conditions for the grant of development permit by the Control Department must conform to the conditions of use stated in the title document or grant of right of Occupancy for the land in question.



Norwegian strategic planning/zoning is governed by a combination of statutory law and governmental policy. The main legislative framework for planning and building permits is the Planning and Building Act (Plan- og bygningsloven), along with appurtenant regulations.

The law allows the state, county and municipality to regulate land use within their area of responsibility. In turn, responsibility for regulating the development and use of property lies with the county and municipal authorities. A certain amount of national political influence also exists by way of guidelines and statements contained within government White Papers.

The municipalities have an obligation to control local urban development by creating municipal master plans (kommuneplan), zoning plans (områdeplan) and detailed zoning plans (detaljregulering).

The municipal master plans set out the superior guidelines in relation to zoning, along with detailed zoning plans and national and local guidelines and targets for the planning and building sectors in each municipality. The municipal master plan must cover all geographical areas within the municipality.

A zoning plan sets out guidelines for land use within a smaller geographical area, and is used if demanded in the municipal master plan.

The detailed zoning plan outlines the detailed terms of land usage in a small geographical area, often consisting of just a few pieces of real estate. The terms of land use can focus on the type of development permitted, building height and size, aesthetic qualities, restrictions on the use and development of property, order of development and parking provisions.



Strategic planning and zoning in the Republic of Poland is regulated by statutory law under the following Acts:

  • Zoning and Development Act in force since 11 July 2003
  • Building Law Act in force since 1 January 1995
  • Regulations issued to implement Building Law and Zoning and Development Act.

Community authorities are responsible for creating and maintaining zoning and development policy, including drafting resolutions on the case study of terms and directions for local development and local zoning and development plans. It is a guideline for community authorities on how to plan local development in the future. According to the recent changes of the Zoning and Development Act, general plans will replace the case studies of terms and directions for local development. The case studies will remain in force until the date of entry into force of relevant general plan, but no later than 31 December 2025

Under Polish law, a case study of terms and directions for local development cannot be relied on by investors on its own, which means that it does not constitute grounds for issuing a decision on a planning permit and a building permit.

In the event that there is no local development plan, an individual decision on the terms of development must be obtained. The local development plan is, under Polish law, a generally binding regulation, while a case study is not. However, the case study of terms and directions for local development is binding on the public administration authority while enacting the zoning and development plan.

General plans will be generally binding regulations that shall be adopted for the entire municipal area and will form the basis for issuance of zoning decisions and preparation of local zoning and development plans. The general plans shall be prepared by the city councils by the end of 2025.

Moreover, the latest amendment to the Zoning and Development Act introduced new type of plan that may be adopted within an area of the communes – the integrated investment plan. An integrated investment plan is a special form of a local zoning and development plan adopted by a relevant local government body at the request of an investor. Most importantly, the entry into force of an integrated investment plan causes the loss of biding force of local zoning and development plans of their parts relating to the area covered by the integrated investment plan.



Strategic planning / zoning in Portugal is governed mainly by a planning policy, framed by Decree Law No. 80/215, of 14 May 2015 (Regime Jurídico dos Instrumentos de Gestão Territorial), as amended. This statute, which came into force on 13 July 2015, generally maintains the existing planning policy that was implemented through national, sectorial, special, regional and local development and urban plans.

All plans are binding for the public entities, while the special plans and the municipal plans are also binding for individuals.

At the start of 2024 the Law Decree nº10/2024 of 8 of January was approved and published, which aims to ensure an administrative simplification of the licensing procedure (by providing new cases of waiver of prior notification, removing unnecessary administrative acts, amongst others).



Strategic planning/zoning in Romania is governed by Law 350/2001 regarding urban planning and several other general and local regulations and plans.

The main regulations and plans are:

  • The general urban plan (PUG)
  • The zoning urban plan (PUZ)
  • The detailed urban plan (PUD)

The PUG is a complex technical document drawn up for the regulation and development of a locality and sets forth general provisions, based on which the PUZs are drafted for the different areas of such locality.

The PUZ is a technical document drawn up for detailed regulation of the development of a determined area within an administrative unit and sets forth the rules and conditions under which constructions may be built in a particular area.

The PUD is a technical document that details the PUG and the PUZ and that is drawn up for a specific location.

The importance of the above-mentioned documents resides in the fact that they determine, among others aspects:

  • The construction and zoning parameters such as the percentage of land occupation (ie POT)
  • The coefficient for land utilization (ie CUT)
  • The maximum height permitted
Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

Strategic planning/zoning in Slovakia is governed by a combination of acts, subordinate legislation and policy. The law and policy is contained in primary legislation (mainly in the Building Act –- soon to be ineffective and replaced by the Planning Act and the Construction Act), secondary legislation and regional and local urban studies, and land-use/zoning plans.

Planning legislation deals with the arrangement and functional use of land. It lays down principles of planning and it proposes the development of land and landscape. In the land planning process, we distinguish between the following documentation:

  • Land planning materials
  • Zoning documentation
  • Zoning permits

Land planning materials are as follows:

  • An urban study
  • A general building scheme
  • A site assessmen
  • Ground condition reports and materials

The basic tool of land development and environmental care in the Slovak Republic, its regions and municipalities is the zoning documentation. This documentation addresses the spatial arrangement and functional use of the land, harmonizes the interests and activities affecting land development, the environment and ecological stability and establishes the directions of spatial arrangement and the functional use of land. Land-use/zoning documentation is elaborated on at national and regional level and for municipalities and parts of municipalities. It consists of:

  • The overall plan for the development of Slovakia
  • A zoning plan of a region
  • A zoning plan of a municipality
  • A zoning plan of a zone

On the basis of a zoning plan of a municipality and a zoning plan of a zone, zoning permits are rendered. We distinguish between the following zoning permits:

  • A decision on placement of the building
  • A decision on use of the area
  • A decision on a protected landscape area or the protection zone
  • A decision on a building ban

The new Act on Local Development Fee, as amended, introducing a new one-time local fee for development ("Fee") became effective as of 1 November 2016. The Fee applies to buildings, which were permitted by a building permit, buildings which were notified to the respective building office, buildings on which the decision to allow the alternation of the building was issued (only until 01 April 2024) or buildings which were additionally permitted after November 2016 (only until 01 April 2024). The Fee can be established by a generally binding regulation of the municipality in its territory, a separate part thereof or a separate cadastral area on a voluntary basis. The municipalities have the right to impose the Fee in the amount of €3 up to €35 per m2 of the above-ground building floor area. The Fee will be paid as one-time fee and will then become the income of the municipalities' budget. Furthermore, different rates of the Fee may be introduced by the municipality for residential buildings, buildings used for agricultural production, industrial buildings and buildings used for storage, etc.



In Spain there are three levels of regulations for strategic planning/zoning:

  • The Consolidated Text of the 2015 National Land Act, which establishes the guidelines to ensure the equality of all citizens in respect of the rights and obligations related to and derived from the use of land and general regulations for land valuation applicable to the whole of Spain

  • The Land Act of each autonomous region (Comunidad Autónoma) which establishes the guidelines and general regulations for urban planning applicable to the relevant region, as well as sets out the strategic planning/zoning in the relevant region. However, in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which have not passed a regional land act, the applicable law is the 1976 National Land Act in so far as it does not contravene the 2015 National Land Act

  • The urban planning regulations of each city or town council which, conforming to the regional acts, regulate in detail the zoning in each council or town.



Strategic planning / zoning in Sweden is governed by a combination of law and policy. The law and policy is contained in legislation as well as in binding policy decisions issued by the municipalities. Law and policy decisions exist on both a national and regional level.

The main statute is the Planning and Building Act. A new Planning and Building Act came into force on 2 May 2011.



The governmental body that controls strategic planning/zoning in Thailand is the Department of Public Works and Town and City Planning, Ministry of Interior for both regions and localities. This body may delegate its authority to relevant local administrations pursuant to the Plan Development and Process for Decentralization to Local Administration Act B.E. 2542 (1999).

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (DUPM) have planning powers.

The DUPM was mainly set up to drive and support Abu Dhabi's urban development strategy and urban growth. It also deals with the larger strategically important applications. Part of the DUPM’s mandate is to ensure public and private land and infrastructure development proposals are in line with the Emirate’s long term development vision. This vision is encapsulated within their comprehensive urban structure framework plans: Plan Abu Dhabi/Al Ain/Western Region 2030 (Capital 2030).

As such, major developments are subject to a review process, established by the DUPM, which itself forms part of a longer-term strategy for Abu Dhabi’s urban development. Every development must fit within the framework contained within Capital 2030, as well as adhering to other government regulations, policies and guidelines (such as those of the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) which is the regulatory body that supervises the three regional municipal councils and municipal administrations).

The DUPM has established a streamlined process to review development proposals, depending on the nature of the development.

This process in short includes a review which will be tailored to small, medium and large applications, comprising:

Step 1: The information meeting

The DUPM will hold an initial meeting as soon as a development site has been acquired, where the DUPM will explain plans and policies that will determine site development potential and outline the upcoming development review. It also helps set the parameters for supportable development and alerts the applicant to the documents/agencies that should be consulted.

Step 2: Preliminary development options

The applicant will then prepare site analysis (including elements such as transportation, habitat, climate and infrastructure) to prepare preliminary development options for the site. Two options for general land use and site layout must be provided.

The DUPM will review this to check compliance with the Emirate’s urban planning policies (eg Capital 2030, land uses, densities and Estidama (an environmental concept/plan)).

The applicant and the DUPM select the preferred option and work together to prepare a complete concept review application.

Step 3: The concept plan

This application covers all of the systems-level components of a development consent. It will include site and massing plans, a comprehensive approach to open space and community facilities. The DUPM and up to 20 other review agencies evaluate the plan to check it complies with other plans and polices and agree on the seven key elements of the plan which include: land use; density; building form; site layout/design; services; strategies; and phasing.

Step 4: The detailed plan

Applicants with small- and medium-sized projects shall prepare and submit detailed site and building plans for review. This step also confirms that any conditions of approval have been met.

For large projects, this stage of the process is aimed at helping applicants translate concept masterplans into detailed regulations and guidelines.

For small- and medium-sized projects once these steps have been satisfactorily carried out, this is the end of the planning review process and they can move on to apply for municipal building permits from the relevant municipality. Additional developer and DUPM/municipal review shall be required for large projects to ensure compliance with DUPM-approved regulations and guidelines before they can apply for building permits.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

In the Emirate of Dubai, legislation and guidelines in English or Arabic in relation to the process and procedures of obtaining planning and zoning permission are generally very fragmented, and the reality is that for most of Dubai, Dubai Municipality has planning and zoning authority. For free zones throughout Dubai, Dubai Development Authority, Trakhees and TECOM have some planning and zoning authority for their respective areas.

As the process is not clearly stated in legislation, much of the process is based on practice and custom. Set out below is the general process that applied across Dubai including Trakhees and TECOM.

An owner or developer obtains an 'affection plan' from Dubai Municipality. The affection plan is a high level general site plan that is issued with basic information containing the plot number, the land use classification and any other particular zoning requirements that are required by Dubai Municipality.

The plan will state:

  • the height allowance;
  • the usage;
  • any setback requirements; and
  • whether parking must be included.

In addition the affection plan will state what permissions from the particular government authorities or third parties will need to be obtained prior to approval. There are no general rules regarding the requisite authorisations as each affection plan is issued on a plot by plot basis. Depending on the location of the plot, there may be additional approvals that will need to be obtained.

The general approvals that are required are:

  • Dubai Electricity and Water Authority;
  • Civil Defence;
  • Etisalat;
  • the master developer (if applicable);
  • the Environmental Department of Dubai Municipality; and
  • any other authorities or agencies that are listed on the affection plan.

The affection plan may also state whether environmental impact studies are required and whether there are any aesthetic requirements that must be complied with.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

The system of strategic planning/zoning in England and Wales is comprised of a combination of law and policy. Such law and policy are contained in:

  • Acts of Parliament or of the Welsh Ministers, principally the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and including, in respect of Wales, the Planning (Wales) Act 2015
  • Secondary or delegated legislation such as Orders, Regulations and Directions
  • Government planning policy statements/framework and planning practice guidance and advice notes addressing a range of issues, and
  • Local and neighbourhood development plans published by local planning authorities and local communities.
UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

Strategic planning/zoning in Scotland is governed by a combination of law and policy. The law is contained in framework primary legislation with the detail in secondary legislation. There are statutory obligations on Scottish Ministers and local planning authorities to prepare planning policy. At national level, Scottish Ministers are required to prepare a National Planning Framework which may designate developments as 'nationally important development'.

Scottish Ministers also prepare non statutory policy in the form of Scottish planning policy, planning advice notes and circulars. The content of national policy is an important material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

At local level, strategic planning policy is set out in the 'development plan'. For most of Scotland, the development plan consists of a single document known as a 'local development plan' prepared by the local planning authority for that area. However, in the four largest city areas (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow), the development plan currently consists of a two-tier system of 'strategic development plans' and 'local development plans'. There is increasing use by planning authorities of ‘supplementary planning guidance’ which has a less prescriptive method of preparation but which can now also form part of the development plan.

Legislation was passed in 2019 which will abolish strategic development plans but make the National Planning Framework part of the development plan. Statutory supplementary planning guidance will also be abolished. These reforms are not due to come into force until late 2022. Provision for local communities to prepare local place plans (which will not form part of the development plan) came into force in January 2022.

Planning applications are determined in accordance with the terms of the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.



Generally, planning/zoning issues in Ukraine are regulated by a number of national laws and regulations as well as regional/local regulations.

Among the most important laws are:

  • the Land Code of Ukraine No. 2768-III, dated 25 October 2001;
  • the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Regulation of Town Planning Activity’ No. 3038-VI, dated 17 February 2011 (‘Town Planning Law’);
  • the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Basics of Town Planning’ No. 2780-XII, dated 16 November 1992; and
  • the Law of Ukraine ‘On Architectural Activity’ No. 687-XIV, dated 20 May 1999.

The Town Planning Law, which came into effect on 12 March 2011 (except for some provisions which are effective from 12 June 2011, 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013), is aimed at the implementation of complex reform in the area of town planning and construction, the main purpose of which is to simplify construction and planning procedures. Following Ukraine's ratification of the EU Association Agreement on 16 September 2014, legislative initiatives are aimed at the further deregulation and simplification of the construction permit system in line with European legislation and practice.

State Construction Norms contain technical requirements applicable to the planning and construction stages of development.

The local town planning documentation (the General Plan of Settlement, the Detailed Plan of Territories and the Plan for Zoning of Territories) are the main documents which contain legal regulations applicable to local planning/zoning. From 19 April 2014 town-planning documentation (specifically, general and detailed plans) is made publicly available in full (although in practice this still has not been implemented in the majority of settlements), ie that documentation cannot be classified or contain other restricted data.

State authorities (ie the Ministry of Development of Communities and Territories of Ukraine (ex-Ministry of Regional Development and Construction), the State inspection of architecture and town planning of Ukraine (the newly created state authority that have to replace State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate, etc) have a wide range of powers to regulate and control planning and construction issues in Ukraine, as well as to develop certain legislative acts in this sphere.

Additionally, local authorities in Ukraine are entitled to decide on zoning issues, control development at the local level as well as to develop local regulations based on the national legislation.

United States

United States

Strategic land use planning and zoning in the US is governed primarily at the local level by municipal governments for incorporated areas, and by county governments, for unincorporated areas. The authority for such local governance is derived from and defined by the laws of the state within which the property is located, and so local legislative authority can vary in both substance and procedure.

Local land use policies and legislative and governmental controls are typically contained in the locality’s Comprehensive/Master Plan, which may be a guide and advisory in nature or contain mandatory requirements, and local zoning and subdivision ordinances which have the force of law.

State law also delegates certain powers to state and regional agencies that may impact development of private property, including:

  • transportation agencies, economic development authorities;
  • and housing authorities.

Additionally, the need for regional utility service providers to deliver utilities and their associated infrastructure (such as water, sewer, power, natural gas) may also influence land use. Finally, federal authorities exercise control over certain issues impacting land use and development of private property, such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the case of navigable waterways and wetlands.



Physical and spatial planning in Zimbabwe are directed by the Department of Physical Planning. The department is a technical arm of the government that is in charge of managing the spatial planning system and giving technical advice for the implementation of the development planning systems to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. The department has oversight of the country’s local authorities, who must adhere to the provisions of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act [Chapter 29:12], the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] or the Rural District Council Act [Chapter 29:13].

The Department of Physical Planning carries out technical evaluation of plans (master plans, local plans and layout plans) originating from local planning authorities to aid the minister in making decisions on the plans. It also mediates  in stakeholder conflicts arising from spatial planning decisions that interfere with  other party land rights.

Furthermore, the department provides technical assistance relating to the planning of preparation structures for the development planning system, which the Provincial Councils and Administration Act [Chapter 29:11] prescribes; manages urban public transport and carries out tachometric surveys and the pegging of state land. Planning and zoning within areas falling within the jurisdiction of local authorities may, where available, be subject to the local authority’s by-laws.