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From categories to types: the draft amendments to the Land Code of the Russian Federation, drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Development

25 february 2014

On February 24, the Governmental commission on legislative activities considered the draft of federal law on amendments to the Land Code of the Russian Federation and other laws of the Russian Federation to cancel land categories and repeal of the Federal law “On the transfer of lands or land plots from one category to another”, drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Development.

According to the instructions of the President Vladimir Putin the Government should introduce a bill to the State Duma on March 1.

The prospective amendments to the Land Code of the Russian Federation have been published on the website regulation.gov.ru for public debate.

This bill set up the following aims: reducing barriers for the real estate development, improvement of business climate in the construction industry (in accordance with the “road map”). At the moment change of the land category may take years, at the same time the process is not transparent enough.

The draft repeals actual land division into seven categories (settlements, agriculture, industry, water and forest funds, reserve lands and protected areas) and establishes territorial zoning. Since 2017 local authorities are entitled to divide their territories into zones and set them a list of permitted uses, which may be several.The classification is to be developed by the Federal Government.

Initially, it was proposed to adopt the act until 2012. The bill was introduced in the State Duma, but then postponed due to the controversy of many of its provisions. In fact, it was supposed to give the local authority bodies exclusive power to establish and change zonal boundaries, and also to determine permitted use for them, with the exception of water and forest land funds.

The present bill is intended to eliminate the previous shortcomings by affirmation of the priority of specially protected agriculture lands, entering information about them in the Federal Register, transfer to the Government the legal authority to establish and change the zonal boundaries.

For all territorial zones should be established the town-planning regulations. The town-planning regulations shall not be established for agricultural territorial zones, water and forest land funds, specially protected areas and land plots, situated at the territory of special economic zones. For specially protected agricultural territorial zones is applicable the Federal Law “On land development”.

Regulations on the use of other agricultural lands are to be drawn up by regional authority bodies in order, as specified by the Federal Government. The bill also fixes the scale for the construction for farming objects on such lands: there may be just one residential house at the most three floors, provided that authorities have to establish the maximum percentage of real estate development at a land plot.

Nevertheless, despite all the positive aspects of the project, it contains uncertainties that may subsequently affect the efficiency of its use. For example, the bill does not determine such terms as “territorial zone”, “specially protected agricultural territorial zones”, does not regulate the procedure of establishment and change of zones, also the classification of permitted use types has not been developed yet etc. It seems that the bill needs to be further developed and clarified.