by Efthimios Bakogiannis, Secretary General for Regional Planning and Urban Environment

One of the key roles of spatial planning is to support developmental choices through spatial receptors and settings. It becomes self-evident that, first, the lack of consistent long-term spatial planning rules makes it difficult to implement various development options (in some cases the above cannot be understood independently of their spatial dimension) and cancels the effectiveness of economic planning.

At the same time, it leads to dangerous and anarchic placement productive activities, with immediate consequences of environmental destruction and degradation. Spatial planning must become synonymous with legal safeguards for investors to be able to settle on Greek soil and create value. A long-term development strategy needs to include spatial planning as a tool for investment, employment, reducing inequalities, protecting the environment and, ultimately, creating social cohesion.

Law 4759/2020 “Modernization of Spatial and Urban Planning Legislation” makes targeted regulations aimed at a more flexible and modern land use that will favor the implementation of investments, and the achievement of greater coherence of spatial/regional development.

At the same time, by providing incentives for the development of productive activities in organized receptors, non- organized building becomes restricted in offzone areas. The new law aspires to resolve issues related to the preparation of spatial frameworks and urban plans, clarifies the relationship between them and sets rules for resolving ambiguities and conflicts between them. Attempts are being made to drastically reduce off-zone construction. Marine spatial planning is decoupled from land-based spatial planning (mainly coastal planning) in order to avoid overlaps, but maritime spatial planning takes into account interactions between maritime and coastal areas, along with the coordination of the various policies that have spatial implications regarding the sea.

The key point of this government policy is a horizontal intervention for the modernization of spatial planning legislation.

Legislative initiatives have a developmental and, above all, strong environmental, developmental, as well as social direction.

The philosophy of its legislative initiatives (which is already reflected in the recently passed law of 2020 “Modernization of urban and spatial planning legislation”) is reflected in the following:

– Support for the national effort for growth and investment, with measures such as the modernization of land use and the encouragement of business development in organized business parks.

– Combining the previous goal of protecting the environment, by limiting out of zon construction in parallel with the implementation of an extensive program of local urban plans.

– Protection of property rights with interventions such as the transfer of the building factor, the clarification of the status of the road expropriations, but also boosting urban plans.

– Encouragement of construction activity accompanied by strict rules, and significant environmental and energy incentives

– Legal security in all areas of urban planning and spatial planning. A milestone in this effort is the completion of spatial planning. This had as its main tool Local Urban Plans for which a special coordinator has already been appointed. Today, 20% of Greece is subject to planning. With the Government’s ambitious plan, through the Recovery Fund, all of Greece will have Local Urban Plans over the next five years, while by 2024 all tourist areas will have Local Urban Plans.

The full article of the Efthimios Bakogiannis, secretary general for Regional Planning and Urban Environment, is published in the March/April 2021 issue of Greek Business File, available here