Urbanism Law No. 350/2001 (the ”Urbanism Law”) was amended by Emergency Ordinance No. 7/2011, which has now been approved by Law No. 190/2013 (“Law 190”). According to the Parliament, the amendments assure the conformity of Romanian law with European principles of territorial and urban sustainable development.

The Urbanism Law is the main legal framework of Romania’s urbanism regime. The recent amendments are meant to harmonize the legal provisions with the updated construction regime, and to implement such provisions on the basis of a national territorial development strategy, avoiding chaotic urban development.

Based on the recent amendments, new regulations related to key urbanism documentations (PUZ – the zonal urbanism plan, PUD – the detailed urbanism plan and PUG – the general urbanism plan) have been issued.

One of the most controversial amendments is the right of private investors, irrespective of the type of new development, to initiate and fund a PUZ which may derogate from and amend the regulations established by the local urbanism documentations approved for a specific zone (i.e., PUG and the local urbanism regulations).

We note that, according to the previous provisions of the Urbanism Law, only local authorities were entitled to initiate such a PUZ, except for some limited categories of private investors which envisaged the development of industrial, commercial, cultural or technological parks, hypermarkets, supermarkets and residential neighborhoods.

However, the amendment of certain technical parameters established through the PUG (e.g., the coefficient of land utilization (CUT), by way of a PUZ is limited, as an approved CUT may only be exceeded by maximum 20% based on a PUZ. Nevertheless, this limitation will not apply in case of envisaged zones of economic interest, respectively industrial, commercial and technological parks, hypermarkets, supermarkets, services areas. etc.

Another controversial amendment to the Urbanism Law is the possibility of private investors to amend the approved technical parameters of protected areas, through new urbanism documentations (e.g., PUZ) which may be initiated/elaborated directly by such private investors. These amendments will be in any case based on an opportunity approval (Romanian: aviz de oportunitate), and may exceed the current parameters by only up to 20% as long as no modification will be brought to the general aspect of that area.
As for the PUG, the validity term of such documentation remains a maximum of 10 years, although such term may be extended by up to five years (instead of three as previously provided.

Further, the urbanism certificate (CU) - the document that ensures the application of the urbanism regulations by providing the legal, economic and technical regime of a real estate property, as well as the conditions that must be met in view of an envisaged investment, sale of real estate or other related actions, according to the law - will additionally contain, among others:

(i) an excerpt from the relevant local urbanism regulations (part of the general urbanism plan (PUG)); and
(ii) the compliance of the envisaged development with the urbanism documentations, informing the applicant with respect to: (a) the prohibition to amend local urbanism documentations; (b) the possibility to amend the local urbanism documentation, without obtaining an opportunity approval; and (c) the necessity to obtain an opportunity approval.

As for the right of control with respect to the new urbanism documentation, starting with 13 July 2013, the prefect’s right to claim in court the annulment of the decisions based on which the urbanism documents were approved, without observing the legal provisions, has been abrogated. Currently the persons entitled to claim such annulment in court are the State Inspectorate for Constructions, the Chief Architect and any interested person.

The urbanism documents elaborated before 1 February2012 and not approved before the date of entry into force of Emergency Ordinance No. 7/2011 will be approved under the conditions of the amended Urbanism Law.  The update of expired approvals does not incur any costs and shall be made within a maximum of 15 days from the application date.  In case the authorities do not provide an answer to the applicant or the new approval is not formally issued with the 15-day term, the approval is considered tacitly issued.

Within 90 days from the date of entry into force of Law 190, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration will elaborate the methodological norms of Law 190.  The Urbanism Law shall be republished in the Official Gazette.

Sources: Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No. 373 of 10 July 2001, Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No. 111 of 11 February 2011, Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No. 845 of 13 December 2012 and Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No. 418 of 10 July 2013.