Comparison of the laws of the Russian Federation



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Comparison of the laws of the Russian Federation



 

An important part of the planning and urban development laws of the "western" countries are provisions, which address the legal status of the plans in relation to governmental actions and private property owners.

There are very different fundamental aspects of both land relations and the concepts of planning and urban development in the laws of the Russian Federation. Some of the differences are the result of the situation of economic and legal transition – in particular the fact that private property rights have not yet been fully defined in the civil law and the "ownership" rights to most urban land parcels continue to remain in the state. The most important difference, however, appears to lie in the fundamental concept of land law and in the principles and structure of the Land Code.

Urban development laws and the land laws require consideration of the economic impacts on private owners of the planning procedures. In order to make them work in reality, the laws must deal also with the financial aspects of planning and urban development. In particular, these involve the problem of public finance. The planning and urban development laws must be linked to the laws on Municipal Self-Government, Budgets or Government Finance, which define the ways in which the municipality or state agencies gain the financing to realize public projects. Obviously, a system such as the French five-year moratorium cannot work unless the municipality is able to borrow the capital funds needed to buy out private users.

One possible way of solving the problem is to re-write the urban development laws, based on the assumption that the fundamental system of land use definition, clarification of rights and obligations related to specific land parcels, keeping the cadastre and monitoring and enforcement will all take place based on the system of management set by the Land Code. The urban development laws will require the addition of certain "extra" procedures , appropriate for the proper definition of urban uses.

Such a law would have to pay closer attention to the problems of disagreement among experts and bureaucratic units, which are inevitable and necessary. Stronger mechanisms of coordination, stronger public participation and accountability and the most important, a more clear responsibility for specific public officials – heads of administration – are needed to make decisions when their subordinate units disagree.

The second aspect of the urban development and land laws of the Russian Federation, which appear incomplete, in comparison with the western laws, are those aspects dealing with the consequences of planning and urban development decisions on private land rights. In particular, the Urban Development Code has no provisions dealing with the ways in which changes in plans become effective. If the essence of the Russian law is that environmental and social obligations are to be integrated with the fundamental property rights and obligations in land, then the law must explain how this is to happen. The current Urban Development Code appears to assume that its mandates apply automatically as a result of the simple requirement that subsequent actions must be made compatible through the compilation of urban development documentation.

The existing urban development law is also silent on all the questions related to the power and procedures for buying out (expropriating) sites necessary for new transport routes, infrastructure and public facility sites. As a land reform progresses and more urban land parcels become fixed with ownership, leasehold and other land rights, the issues of impact of planning on value and use of lands will increase and questions about when and whether compensation is required will arise.

There is no need for the Russian Federation to copy the "western" laws on Urban Development and planning, which relate to significantly different current situations of landholding, development and economic relations in urban areas. However, to be successful, the laws of the Russian Federation need to deal, in a practical way, with the problems presented by their unique fundamental system of integrated land rights and obligations.

 

 



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