In July 2021, a number of significant changes were introduced to the Russian Town Planning Code (the Town Planning Code). Some of these amendments seek to unify construction rules at the federal level in the Town Planning Code. The changes were most likely made in order to simplify construction-related procedures and limit the possibility of changing these procedures through the adoption of by-laws and/or normative acts of Russian regions or municipalities.

Below is a summary of the main changes.

1. Federal Law of July 1, 2021 No. 275-FZ “On the Introduction of Amendments to Certain Laws of the Russian Federation” (Law No. 275-FZ)

The amendments introduced by Law No. 275-FZ entered into force on July 12, 2021 (except for certain amendments which enter into force at later dates, as indicated below).

1.1. The introduction of a unified list of construction-related procedures (the list)

Prior to the introduction of the list into the Town Planning Code, the Russian government had issued a number of lists of construction-related procedures (for example, in connection with the construction of residential and non-residential buildings and certain types of engineering networks) which are currently in force.1 Construction procedures are also governed by the laws of Russian regions and municipalities. The List supersedes those Lists and Procedures.

Pursuant to the amendments, the Russian Government will approve comprehensive lists of documents, data, materials and approvals necessary to fulfill the procedures set forth by the list. The amendments expressly provide that authorities at any level are not permitted to request from developers any approvals, documents and data not contemplated by the list.

The procedures mentioned in the list must be completed by parties involved in construction projects, including developers, construction managers (technical clients) and competent authorities. In addition, the List includes the following key steps for development projects: (i) formalization of land use rights; (ii) approval and delivery of documents, materials and data required for technical studies and design; (iii) the process of undertaking engineering and design studies; (iv) the construction and operation of built properties; and (v) cadastral registration and state registration of title to such properties.

The changes come into effect on September 1, 2021.

1.2. The insertion of a definition of “work documentation” in the town planning code

Prior to the changes, the term “working documentation” was defined in Russian Government Resolution No. 87 of February 16, 2008 which determines the content of design documentation. Given the importance of working documentation for every construction project, the lack of provisions in the town planning code dealing with working documentation was clearly a gap that is now being filled.

According to the Town Planning Code (as amended), design documentation is the documentation setting out the architectural and technical solutions to facilitate construction, while working documentation is the documentation under which construction is to be undertaken. Although the working documentation must be prepared on the basis of the design documentation, the town planning code allows the simultaneous preparation of both types of documentation. In addition, the Russian government is empowered to determine the composition and content of working documentation.

The Town Planning Code allows changes to the working documentation without requiring simultaneous changes to the design documentation (and without expert review) provided that the relevant changes (i) if they were to be made to the design documentation design are not the subject of an expertise in accordance with the town planning code (sections 1 to 5 of title 3.8 of article 49 of the town planning code); and (ii) are approved by a developer and a prime contractor (technical client).

Only design documentation is subject to expert review, and designers of design documentation must be members of approved “self-governing” organizations.

1.3. The introduction of provisions on standard design documentation (Documentation Standard)

The concept of Standard Documentation was introduced in the Town Planning Code in order to increase the efficiency (in terms of costs and time) of the construction of standardized development projects. The standard documentation replaces the previously existing concept of “economically efficient and repeatedly used design documentation” which could only be used in projects implemented by state or municipal authorities or state-owned legal entities at more 50% (State Entities).

Design documentation may be called standard documentation and included in the unified national register of expert conclusions on design documentation (register of expert conclusions) under the decision of a competent authority provided that the requirements following are met: (i) with respect to design documentation a positive conclusion of a State expert review has been obtained; and (ii) the properties built in accordance with this documentation have been put into service. The Russian government will establish (i) the criteria for qualifying design documentation as standard documentation, (ii) the duration and order of use of this documentation (including the introduction of amendments to it ), and (iii) the grounds for excluding Standard Documentation from the register of expert findings.

The standard documentation can be used for the design of analogous properties (i.e. properties with a similar purpose, design capability, location where the properties are intended to be built) by any developer.

If the intellectual property rights to the Standard Documentation belong to the Russian Federation or a Russian region or municipality, (i) State Entities may use it free of charge; and (ii) other persons or entities may use it under the conditions established by the Russian government.

If the intellectual property rights to the standard documentation belong to a party other than the Russian Federation, a Russian region or municipality, an interested person or entity would be entitled to obtain from the Register of Expert Conclusions information about the intellectual property rights holder concerned and to start negotiations with this rights holder in order to obtain the right to use the relevant standard documentation.

The changes come into effect on October 1, 2021.

1.4. The introduction of a “one stop shop” regime for expert reviews of design documentation

The general position is that design documentation for construction is subject to review by state or non-state experts. In addition, ecological or cultural-historical expertise may be required depending on the specifics of a project.

Under amendments to the Town Planning Code, the Russian government is empowered to introduce a “one-stop-shop” regime for various appraisals. If such a scheme is introduced, an applicant could apply once to the relevant authority or organization which would undertake the required expert review and also redirect the relevant design documentation to other authorities and organizations. for carrying out other expert examinations.

1.5. Changing the requirements of a technical plan

The preparation of a technical plan by a registered cadastral engineer is a mandatory condition for the commissioning of newly built properties. Following the modifications, the design documentation no longer has to be attached to a technical drawing. At the same time, the technical plan must include (i) a reference to the relevant design documentation in accordance with which the properties concerned were built, and (ii) certain technical parameters of the design documentation.

These changes significantly limit the ability of the Federal Service for Registration, Cadastre and Mapping (Rosreestr) to review and assess design documentation. In particular, Rosreestr would only check whether the parameters of the constructed properties comply with those mentioned in a building permit without checking the underlying design documentation.

2. Federal Law of July 1, 2021 No. 276-FZ “On Amendments to the Town Planning Code of the Russian Federation and Certain Laws of the Russian Federation” (Law No. 276-FZ)

Law No. 276-FZ modifies the norms of the town planning code governing the connection of real estate to the distribution networks of public services (networks). The amendments reproduce to a large extent the resolution of the Russian government of February 13, 2006 No. 83 which sets out the rules for obtaining the technical conditions for connecting real estate to the networks and the rules for connecting to the networks. One of the probable objectives of the amendments is to integrate these rules into the town planning code.

2.1. Establishment of Network connection rules

The Town Planning Code is supplemented by provisions relating to the connection of real estate to the Networks. Following the modifications, the technical connection conditions will be appended to a Network connection agreement to be concluded between a developer and the beneficiaries of the Networks concerned. Technical conditions must be valid for at least three years, and in the case of complex spatial planning – not less than five years.

2.2. The introduction of rules on a complex scheme of supplying public services for a particular territory

The competent authorities will now be able to approve a complex scheme for the provision of public services for a particular territory (комплексная schema инженерного обеспечения territorii) (Diagram). The Scheme must be approved by the beneficiaries of the Networks located in the territory concerned. The scheme could be prepared as part of the materials for the preparation of a land development project (проект planirovki territorii). The composition and content of the scheme will be determined by the Russian government.

2.3. Other amendments

Law No. 276-FZ also introduces the following changes:

  • the beneficiaries of the real estate connected to the Networks become authorized to reduce the electrical capacity and to transfer the capacity which is no longer necessary to third parties; and
  • urban plans (градостроительные plans) should include information about the possibility of connecting real estate objects to networks.

Law No. 267-FZ comes into force on September 1, 2021.