REALWorld Law

Planning / zoning

Responsible authorities

Which authorities are responsible for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of real estate in this country and which legislation applies?

Angola

Angola

Various pieces of legislation deal with which authorities are responsible for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels. In general, responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land largely lies with provincial and local authorities. Provincial and local authorities draw up and approve the plans for land planning and these are usually the competent authorities to conduct control procedures for any urban operation. However, as a rule, an approval of the urban plans by the central government is required.

Australia

Australia

Generally speaking, it is the local government entity (usually an elected council) which regulates development and use of individual parcels of real estate. In the case of special development areas, it may be the Minister for Planning or some other statutory authority. There are opportunities for Ministerial intervention in special cases, usually reserved for major projects of state or regional significance, or projects having key policy objectives.

The legislation which applies is the state planning legislation. Some significant environmental matters (such as threatened and migratory species, wetlands or heritage) are regulated by a Commonwealth authority under Commonwealth legislation. 

Belgium

Belgium

The regions are exclusively competent for regulating public planning. Therefore, the respective parliaments of the regions (Flemish, Walloon and the Brussels Capital Region) have the competence and ability to regulate the development and designated use of individual parcels of real estate in their respective regions.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

At the cantonal level, the responsible authorities are cantonal ministries for spatial planning. At the level of the two entities which comprise Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry for Spatial Planning and the Environment acts in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Ministry for Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology is the relevant body in the Serb Republic (RS).

The applicable laws are:

  • The FBiH Law on Spatial Planning and the Use of Land (Official Gazette of the FBiH no. 2/06,72/07, 32/08, 4/10, 13/10, 45/10)
  • The Law on Spatial Planning and Construction in the RS (Official Gazette of the RS no. 40/13)
  • The FBiH Law on the Protection of the Environment (Official Gazette of the FBiH no. 15/21)
  • The RS Law on the Protection of the Environment (Official Gazette of RS no. 71/12, 79/15 and 70/20)
  • The Law on Expropriation applied in the FBiH (Official Gazette of the FBiH no. 70/07, 36/10, 25/12, 8/15 – The Decision of the Constitutional Court and 34/16)
  • The RS Law on Expropriation (Official Gazette of the RS nos. 112/06, 37/07 110/08, 106/10 - The Decision of the Constitutional Court, 121/10 – The Decision of the Constitutional Court, 2/15 – The Decision of the Constitutional Court and 79/15)
Canada

Canada

Generally speaking, it is the local government which regulates the development and use of individual parcels of real estate. There may also be provincial or federal regulation in special cases, usually reserved for major projects of provincial or national significance, or projects falling under federal heads of power (such as aeronautics and telecommunications).

The legislation which applies is generally provincial planning legislation, and official plans and by-laws enacted by the local government pursuant to provincial legislation. Federal legislation applies to matters that are regulated by a federal authority.

China

China

The primary authority responsible for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of land is the Land Administration Bureau. The Land Administration Bureau administers State-owned land by entering into land grant agreements with individual land users for the issue of land use rights for a parcel of land. The land grant agreements will contain conditions as to the permitted (and required) use and development of the land.

Croatia

Croatia

According to the Act on Zoning (Official Gazette No. 153/13 and 65/17) and the Act on Construction (Official Gazette No. 153/13 and 20/17) which regulate the development and use of real estate, the competent authorities for the issue of permits for the construction and usage of real estate and its supervision, are:

  • The competent authorities of the large city or of the county competent for zoning and construction, and
  • Depending on the size and significance of the construction, the Ministry of Zoning and Construction
Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Responsibility for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of land largely lies with regional or municipal planning authorities (as does regulation through the territorial plans or regulatory plans). These authorities are governed by general planning guidelines made by the regional authorities or by the Ministry for Regional Development. The Ministry of Defence is involved in the development of military areas. Accordingly, in case of certain specific developments different administrative authorities depending on field of competence are involved in construction proceeding (eg Railway Authority, Civilian Aviation Authority or State Mining Administration).

Denmark

Denmark

The responsibility for regulating the development and use of individual parcels lies with the local planning authorities in the municipality. However, the local plan must comply with the municipal plans, and municipal plans must comply with the state plans.

In the municipal plans and the state plans the regulation is general, whereas the specified use of a certain plot of land is regulated in the local plans and under the Planning Act.

France

France

Responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land in France largely lies with local authorities. The mayor of the municipality is responsible for issuing building permits except in certain areas or projects where the person responsible for issuing building permits can be the Prefect.

Germany

Germany

The regulation of the development and use of individual parcels of land falls under the responsibility of the relevant municipality. Guidelines are laid down for the municipalities by the Federal Government, the relevant state (Bundesland) and the relevant region as follows:

Federal Government of Germany

The Federal Government lays down 'leading concepts' (Leitbilder), for example:

  • the guarantee of equality of living conditions within Germany
  • protection of the natural environment 
  • the necessity of correcting structural imbalances between the former East and West Germany.

States

The states in Germany draw up comprehensive plans (Raumordnungspläne). Each of those plans covers the whole of the relevant state. The state's comprehensive plan and objectives are binding on all subordinate planning authorities (ie the regional planning authorities and municipalities).

Examples of the content of state plans include:

  • requirements for the desired structure of settlements 
  • the need for areas to remain undeveloped (including areas for flood protection, the uses of any undeveloped areas, and sites allocated to the search for and extraction of location-specific raw materials) 
  • desired infrastructure locations and routes.

Regional planning (Regionalpläne)

Each individual region implements the Raumordnungsplan of its state through regional planning, on a smaller, more detailed scale. For example, the regions can designate:

  • the designation of green areas (Grünbereiche
  • settlement areas (Siedlungsgebiete
  • industrial areas (Industriegebiet
  • water protection areas (Wasserschutzgebiet
  • zones for wind farms etc

Municipalities

The municipalities’ planning functions are carried out at two levels:

1. The development plan for the entire territory of the municipality (Flächennutzungsplan): this lays down the main features of the various types of use of land that will be permitted on the basis of intended urban development and the anticipated needs of the municipality, for example:

  • areas earmarked for development 
  • transport 
  • public infrastructure 
  • green spaces 
  • agricultural land and woodland and zones for the protection, preservation and development of the natural environment and the landscape.

2. A detailed plan for individual areas within the municipality (Bebauungsplan), designating the permitted land use (such as residential, industrial, retail or business) and restrictions on the size, height and floor area of permissible buildings.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

The Planning Department, the Development Bureau and the District Planning Offices are principally responsible for regulating the development and designated use of property.

The Town Planning Ordinance is the primary legislation regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of real estate in Hong Kong.

Hungary

Hungary

There is a two-tier system is Hungary: general rules are laid down in the Construction Act (Act LXXVIII of 1997) and Government Decree No. 253/1997 on the National Settlement and Building Requirements (in Hungarian: OTÉK) which applies throughout the entire county. The responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels lies directly with the local governments and municipalities which must adopt their structural plans, zoning maps and local building codes.

Additionally, certain specific regulations (eg government decrees) may also determine individual zoning and building rules and requirements for specific investments and areas.

Ireland

Ireland

In general, responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land in Ireland lies with local planning authorities. Appeals are referred to An Bord Pleanála (the Planning Board) which was set up by the government to operate an open and impartial planning appeal system.

An Bord Pleanála is a statutory authority and deals with all planning appeals in Ireland. Anyone applying for planning permission in Ireland and anyone who made written submissions/observations to the planning authority on a planning application can appeal a planning decision made by a local authority to An Bord Pleanála.

Under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 applications for development in respect of ‘strategic infrastructure’, which comprises certain categories of development considered to be of important social or economic benefit to the State or a region within the State, are made to a Strategic Infrastructure Division at An Bord Pleanála, with no right of further review. Under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, housing developments of 100 units or more, or student housing units of 200 or more bed spaces are to be made to a Strategic Housing Division at An Bord Pleanála.

Italy

Italy

The development and the utilization of real estate are currently disciplined by national and regional laws. The main laws for town planning and building are Law no. 1150 of 1942 and Presidential Decree no. 380 of 2001, respectively. The regional legislation varies with each region.

Responsibility for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of land in Italy lies with the municipalities, which have the power to regulate the development and use of real estate by:

  • issuing (or refusing to issue) building titles (the general terms of which includes both a building permit and the work commencement notice), and
  • requesting modifications to the projects submitted by the applicants
Japan

Japan

In general, local governments are responsible for regulating the development and use purposes of land parcels.  Local governments have authority under the BSA and the CPA to grant construction permit to contractors.   

Netherlands

Netherlands

The national and provincial governments adopt general spatial plans which sketch the outlines of the spatial planning policy. Municipal authorities have the authority to further shape these outlines for the relevant municipality. Subject to national and provincial plans and regulations, responsibility for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of land and the obligation to adopt zoning plans for all premises located within their municipal borders lie with the municipalities. Most premises of regional or national interest, such as regional or national infrastructure or military sites, are subject to to provincial or national authorities' planning authority.

Nigeria

Nigeria

The States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, all have their respective Urban and Regional Planning laws specifying the authorities duly established and empowered to implement the provisions of the respective physical planning and development control laws and regulations. The respective Authorities are charged with responsibility for matters relating to development control, implementation of physical development plans and enforcement of building control regulations.

In the Federal Capital Territory, the Development Control Department is the Authority (Section 27(1) of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act 1992). In Lagos State, the Building Control Agency collaborates with the Physical Planning Permit Authority, all established under the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Amendment Law 2019

Norway

Norway

Responsibility for regulating the development and use of individual parcels lies with the regional (county municipality) and municipal (municipality) authorities.

A certain amount of national political influence also exists through national political guidelines and statements through white papers.

Poland

Poland

The local government of the community regulates matters concerning the development and designated use of individual parcels.

Local government at the level of the relevant province also legislates on:

  • development plans
  • analysis
  • case studies
  • programmes and concepts within a certain scope of study.
  • so-called “landscape resolutions” for a placement of advertisement signs etc.

The Minister of Finances, Funds and Regional Policy ensures the conformity of each province's development plan with national policy as well as coordinates cross-border cooperation regarding development plans.

Portugal

Portugal

The main relevant administrative authorities are the Municipalities (local authorities). The Municipalities draw up and approve the municipal plans for land planning and these are usually the competent authorities to conduct existing and successive control procedures for any urban operation.

Romania

Romania

The main legislation regarding the development and designated use of individual parcels of land is Law 350/2001 regarding urban planning, Law 50/1991 regarding construction works and Law 10/1995 regarding quality in construction works.

Depending on what it relates to, a building permit can be issued by:

  • The presidents of the county councils, with the consent of the mayors of the territorial administrative units for the buildings developed:
    • on plots of land located within the limits of more than one locality;
    • within the inner and outer city limits (intravilan/extravilan) of a locality, if the respective locality does not have a specialized department with attributions in the urbanism, zoning and construction authorizing field.
  • The presidents of the county councils, with the prior approval of the secretary of the administrative-territorial unit or of the person appointed by the prefect, in the exceptional situations in which the works are executed at buildings located within the administrative-territorial units where the local council is dissolved and the mayor cannot exercise his attributions:
    • as a result of the termination or suspension of the mandate in accordance with the law;
    • in the situation where preventive measures have been ordered against the mayor according to the criminal law, other than those that determine the suspension of the mandate and that make it impossible for him to exercise the attributions provided by law;
  • The mayors of municipalities, localities or communes for building developed within the inner limits of the respective locality, except for letter a) point (i) above.
  • The mayor of Bucharest for, after the request for the approval of the mayors of the sectors of Bucharest:
    • buildings developed within the limits of more than one sectors and those outside the inner limits (extravilan) of a locality;
    • construction works performed in respect to historical monuments, real immovable assets located within protected built areas, buildings with special architectural or historical value, established by approved urban planning documents, land and/or constructions, identified by cadastral number, included in the List of historical monuments; and
    • construction works regarding infrastructure which is in the administration of the Bucharest Municipality General Council.
  • The mayors of the sectors of Bucharest for the buildings developed within the limits of the respective sector, except for the cases detailed in point (c) above, including historical monuments in the category of ensembles and sites and building located within the protection areas of historical monuments;
  • The mayors of municipalities, localities or communes who have a specialized department with attributions in the urbanism, zoning and construction authorizing field:
    • for the buildings developed within the limits of the respective locality, except for letter (a) point (i) above;
    • construction works performed in respect to historical monuments classified or in the procedure of classification according to the law, located on the administrative territory.

According to the Law 350/2001 regarding urban planning, the zoning urban plan and the detailed urban plan have to be signed only by the urban planning experts who have signatory rights. In addition, as a general rule, the zoning urban plan and the detailed urban plan are approved by the Local Councils.

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

The land planning development and designated use is regulated by planning authorities. The relevant planning authorities are municipalities, self-governing units and regional offices. The central body for land-use planning is the Ministry for Transport and Construction of the Slovak Republic (Ministry). Development within the Slovak Republic is regulated by the Ministry and approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic.

Zoning documentation for the various regions is regulated by self-governing units. Municipalities regulate zoning documentation for municipalities and zones.

Spain

Spain

Responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land in Spain is handled by local authorities (town and city councils) through urban planning regulations. It must be noted that final approval of the main municipal urban planning regulations (known as the "Master Plan") is normally controlled by the 'autonomous regions'.

Sweden

Sweden

The municipalities are generally responsible for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of real estate in Sweden. The applicable legislation is the Planning and Building Act (Plan-och bygglagen (2010: 900)), but there may also be local policy decisions which set out specific regulations affecting individual parcels of real estate.

Thailand

Thailand

The Department of Public Works and Town and City Planning, Ministry of Interior. City Planning Act B.E. 2518 and the associated notifications.

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

The DUPM, and municipalities are the main bodies although other statutory bodies are involved.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

The UAE adopts a two tiered federal system of government, whereby legislation is enacted at the federal level and local Emirate level. There are seven Emirates, of which Dubai is one and within Dubai the applicable law is a combination of federal law, together with the laws of Dubai. If there is a conflict between Emirate and federal law, the federal law shall prevail.

In relation to the Emirate of Dubai, the main authority responsible for regulating the development and designated use of land is Dubai Municipality. Dubai Municipality issue the affection plans which outline the planning and zoning designated for each parcel of land. In addition to the affection plan, additional authorisations then have the responsibility of approving a development/building on the specific plot.

If the plot of land is located in a free zone, specifically JAFZA or TECOM, then Trakhees or TECOM may have additional specific requirements regarding the parcel of land, on top of the Dubai Municipality requirements.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

Responsibility for regulating the development and designated use of individual parcels of land in England and Wales largely lies with local planning authorities but certain cases are referred to the Mayor of London (where the land is in London) or the relevant Secretary of State (ie a senior member of the Government, an elected politician appointed by the Prime Minister) or the Welsh Ministers for determination.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

Responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land in Scotland largely lies with local planning authorities (ie the local councils) but certain cases are referred to Scottish Ministers for determination.

The main legislation is contained in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. This has been subject to significant amendments by the Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 and further changes will be made by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Much of the detail of the Scottish planning system is set out in regulations made under the 1997 Act. A new suite of these regulations was made to implement the changes made by the 2006 Act. Further sets of regulations are being made on a phased basis to implement the 2019 Act.

Ukraine

Ukraine

In Ukraine a number of various state and municipal authorities are responsible for the regulation of the development and use of individual parcels of real estate. The most significant are local councils/state administrations (at the stage of obtaining legal title to land and initial data for planning), the Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre State Service of Ukraine (which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the designated use of plots of land during construction), departments of environment and natural resources of local state administrations and the State Ecological Inspectorate (responsible for ensuring compliance with environmental protection requirements) and the architectural departments of the local municipal authorities. As well as the newly created State inspection of architecture and town planning of Ukraine (that have to conduct state supervision of the compliance of construction works with the relevant design documentation and legislative requirements at the stage of the construction and commissioning of the works).

The compliance of a development (at all stages) and the use of individual parcels of real estate with the relevant legislation is also supervised by the state prosecutor's office. On 15 July 2015 a new Law of Ukraine ‘On State Prosecution’ No. 1697-VII, dated 14 October 2014, came into effect. This has limited the functions of the prosecutor's office in this field considerably. In particular, the office's general supervision function was abolished, and the prosecutor is authorized to represent the state's interests in court (eg to challenge a decision of a local municipality on granting title to land) only in cases where the relevant state body fails to take appropriate action to defend those state interests or there is no state body with competence. The prosecutor must also prove to the court that there are reasonable grounds for the prosecutor to act on behalf of relevant state body.

National legislation and local regulations are both applicable. During the period when buildings are actually occupied the designated use of individual parcels of real estate is controlled by the state sanitary, fire, environmental, cultural heritage authorities.

United States

United States

Primary responsibility for regulating development and designated use of individual parcels of land in the US largely lies with the municipal government, in the case of incorporated areas, and the county government, in the case of unincorporated areas. In some states, state government plays a more prominent role.

The applicable corporate authorities will establish which uses and what type of developments are allowed within a particular zoning district, but typically will delegate the authority to implement and administer the local zoning controls to local planning officers and reviewing bodies.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

The state, through local authorities, is responsible for regulating the development and designated use of parcels of land. All land in Zimbabwe vests in the President. The President exercises his control over the land through government ministers. Agricultural land is under the purview of the Minister of Agriculture. Lands, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Communal Land is under the purview of the Minister of Local Government.

  • Regional Town and Country Planning Act – designates site planning
  • Rural District Councils Act – empowers rural district councils to manage and permit the use of land by third parties on application on behalf of the state
  • Urban Councils Act – empowers urban councils to regulate buildings and construction of related infrastructure such as sewers, water pipes and roads