What Legislative Changes Have Been Made in Terms of Urban Development?

Interview with Teimuraz Bolotashvili, Head of Tbilisi Architecture Service

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Properly developed legislation is one of the main preconditions for the economic, political and social progress of the country. Legislation defines and regulates all issues related to the proper urban development of the country, including environmental issues, regulation of transport policy, compliance with norms in the construction sector, etc. Recently, Tbilisi City Hall has implemented significant legislative changes, which have had a positive impact on both the construction sector and the urban development of the city. 

In an interview with The FINANCIAL, Teimuraz Bolotashvili, Head of Tbilisi Architecture Service, talked about the main legislative changes in terms of urban development, results of these changes which affected positively to urban development and future plans in this direction. 

“The changes that the municipality has made recently are very important for the construction sector. First of all I would like to mention a new type of cleaning fee, this is the fee set for facilities under construction. According to the decree of 8-9 March 2022, the owners of the buildings under construction will be subject to the payment of the monthly fee, in this case I am talking about the cleaning fee. There are specific rates for this, it is 10 tetri for an individual house, and 50 tetri per square meter for all other types of buildings.

Since buildings under construction generate household waste by themselves, we are not talking about construction waste here, we are talking about household waste. As you know, workers on the construction site are fed, generate household waste, therefore garbage bins are often filled with this waste. Tbilservice Group monitored specific construction sites according to defined criteria and these rates were adjusted according to how much household waste was consumed or generated by each construction site according to its size. In addition, Tbilservice Group is increasing its capital expenditures every year due to the growing number of cities and developed areas. Areas in need of new bins, services of dumpsters. This is an additional incentive to request payment of this fee from the holders of the construction permit.

For example, if there is 1000 square meters of reporting space, we can easily calculate how much to pay in total. Payment of this is tied to the fulfillment of the permit condition. If this amount is not paid monthly, which will be accrued to them by Tbilservice Group, then the proceedings will be initiated by the Municipal Inspection, as well as in case of violation of any construction permit. The Architecture Service assists the municipality in the proper administration of this issue. After uploading the application on our site, a warning is given to the applicant, information about the mentioned fee is provided, as well as in the relevant field we request a reference to the contact number, to which the responsible person is sent information about the fee on a monthly basis. Consequently, the Architecture Service on the one hand helps the applicants, the permit holders and on the other hand Tbilservice Group to communicate properly with each other and to pay these funds.

After issuing the permit, Tbilservice Group registers the permit holder as a subscriber and then already pays this fee on a monthly basis. To summarize, the introduction of this new type of fee was due to two reasons: on the one hand, the real circumstances in which the buildings under construction generate household waste, and on the other hand, this decision is reinforced by the fact that in municipalities capital expenditures are increasing  every year.

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I would like to emphasize the changes made in Resolution 255. This is a decree that regulates the issuance of a construction permit. According to the decree, regulations have been simplified during the construction of individual houses. Engineering communications networks, including electrical wiring, water supply, gas supply, etc., these schemes are no longer required in the construction of individual dwellings. They were also exempted from submitting a separate protocol on the completion of certain stages of construction to the municipal inspection. In addition, in the case of new construction and reconstruction of an existing building, specific requirements will be introduced in the near future that will be related to the minimum requirements in terms of energy efficiency.

We have also made some changes in the 2016 N14-39 resolution of the City Council. Specifically, in order to help the victims of cooperative housing, we have made several types of changes. Working on this type of project is a priority for our municipality, as the previous Tbilisi Mayor’s election promise was that all cooperative housing victims would receive apartments, so we have established certain benefits for such facilities to facilitate this process. Without elaborating the general plan, we allow the development of the mentioned land plots for construction.

Also very important were the changes we made to this resolution in the cultural heritage protection zones. As you know, these zones are the oldest, I mean the area of ​​old Tbilisi, where there is a network of streets, in the form that exists and the regulation, which was related to the minimum requirements for land, area and size, contradicted the real situation in old Tbilisi.

We have abolished the minimum requirements in the cultural heritage protection zones, therefore, in almost 100% of cases we have dropped 1 procedure. This is the issuance of a zonal agreement by the Urban Service, which was finally issued by the Mayor’s act to set individual parameters, was absolutely inconsistent with the specifics of Old Tbilisi, therefore this change had a positive impact on these areas.

In addition, in the cultural heritage protection zones for the same purposes as I mentioned, the development and planting parameters set by the functional zone will not be taken into account if the building had or has had these parameters violated. If historically the building was located on a plot of land in such a way that 90% of the plot was occupied and reconstruction or other type of construction is underway, we can assume these elevated parameters and not require, for example, compliance with the parameters set by the functional zone. These changes do not apply to the territories of outer Tbilisi. Consequently, we are talking only about the historical zone.

Another change introduced in this legal regulation is that balconies are not included in the KA2 reporting area. When this ordinance was passed in 2016, it was then determined that balconies should be included in this reporting area. Due to the fact that we introduce different regulations from year to year, as well as increase and impose certain fees, tighten safety rules, it was a somewhat mitigating circumstance for the private sector and gave them the opportunity to no longer enter balconies in the KA2 reporting area. This will lead to the possibility of increasing the space by 3-5%. However, it all depends on the project. We have set a limit here that if the total area of balconies in general exceeds more than 20% of the total KA2 reporting area, then that part of the balconies will again be included in the KA2 reporting area as it was before. 

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We have made an amendment to the same legislative resolution, which obliges each permit seeker, except for individual dwellings, to allocate special places for heating and cooling installations, in order not to further distort the appearance of buildings. It was very common in practice to attach the equipment to different places. This will be a legislative requirement. In practice, the Architecture Service required all of this before this legislative resolution, although there has been no legislative requirement for this until now. The same legislative resolution also defined specific compensatory measures for the placement of a residential function in public-business zones under a special zonal agreement. In the community-business zone if we want to arrange more living space than the allowed proportion of living space, in this case the permit seeker has to compensate the municipality, this is 4% of the transferred space which has to be handed over to the municipality. It is possible to transfer the space to the municipality, which will be used for its intended purpose by the next municipality, or it is possible to compensate the municipality in the form of money.

Amendments were also made to the 41st Legislative Resolution of the Government of Georgia in 2016, in order to simplify. Specifically, the requirements for parking were simplified: the width of the highway or ramp became 6 meters instead of 6.5 meters for two-way entrances and exits. The inner radius of curvature of the motor ramp became 3.5 meters instead of 4.5 meters. The minimum lengths of parking lots have been reduced.

Now I want to highlight the planned changes. We plan to increase the construction permit fee from GEL 4 to GEL 10 per square meter of KA2 reporting area. However, we will not set this maximum number in the first stage. For next year it will be 6 GEL, then 8 and 10 GEL. Accordingly, this fee will be increased in stages. In terms of compensation, we have developed some concessions for the private sector, which I have already talked about in detail.

And another planned reform implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs Emergency Service is that they plan to add requirements for hydrants and fire fighting access roads, which are very important. Previously, these requirements did not exist in this legislation and the Emergency Service used the fire regulations of Soviet times. Therefore, it is very important to define and include modern requirements in the legislation. All this will be very important in terms of regulation.”

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