10:20 09.11.2021

Urban planning reform bill neutralizes achievements of decentralization – opinion

3 min read

KYIV. Nov 9 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Bill No.5655 on the reform of urban planning, adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on July 1 at first reading, in its current form levels out the achievements of decentralization, representatives of the professional community said at the press conference titled "Urban planning reform. Has the government heard architects?" at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday, November 8.

"By developing architecture, we are developing civil society as a whole. We are convinced that the formation of harmonious and stimulating laws requires a dialogue between the architectural community and the authorities, namely the Verkhovna Rada, the Ministry of Regional Development," President of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine Oleksandr Chyzhevsky said.

Deputy Chairman of the Architectural Chamber of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine Hanna Kyriy said that since the adoption of the bill at first reading, a systemic struggle has been waged "not only for the rights of architects, but above all for the rights of people to a safe, high-quality and comfortable space in our cities."

Architect and urban specialist, chief architect of Lviv (2015-2019), Deputy Minister for Development of Communities and Territories (2019-2020) Yulian Chaplynsky said, while working on the bill on urban planning reform, it was necessary not only to single out the stakeholders, but also to clearly define, who exactly represents their interests.

"The digitization of all the processes offered by bill No.5655 is an absolute plus. But the sphere of architecture and procedure are not the same thing. Bill No.5655 is not about cities, not about communities, not about the quality of architecture. The previous system of urban planning control and supervision assumed that local authorities issue urban planning terms and limitations, and not permits. Now this process is further aggravated, because "urban planning terms and limitations are being simplified," cities and communities will continue to receive dubious architecture with incomprehensible facades," Chaplynsky said.

According to him, residents demand a high-quality environment, first of all, from the mayor, but the local authorities, within the forthcoming reform, will be able to control only two parameters, such as the maximum height and density of the building site.

Kyriy said the bill provides for some fuses, for example, local governments can fight unauthorized actions and monitor.

The expert said the bill drew criticism not only from the architectural community.

"Negative conclusions on bill No.5655 were also provided by the National Agency on the Corruption Prevention, the Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, NGO Together Against Corruption, representatives of local government agencies. In particular, the Association of Cities and the Association of merged territorial communities sent corresponding letters to the Verkhovna Rada and the Ministry of Regional Development," Kyriy said.

Kyriy said that due to the well-coordinated and active work of the architectural community, it was possible to remove the most controversial points from the bill.

Now, according to her, joint consultations and work with members of the subcommittee on the wording and correctly written texts are continuing. "But I want to record that the authors of the bill agreed to satisfy all our demands," Kyriy said.

In her opinion, it would be necessary not only to send bill No.5655 for revision, but to organize an open and transparent process of writing the reform with the involvement of all market participants.

The expert said the struggle of architects for their rights works only with mass involvement and media activity. She announced an all-Ukrainian action of architects on November 16.