#9 Urban Economics and Law– Inherited disorder: Why Poland’s Urban Landscape is on dismental

“Understanding of the total historical setting is bound to contribute to a clearer view of theactual course of affairs” (vgl: Deutsch) and enables understanding the origin of nowadays’revitalisation areas. Due to meaningful differences in political situation between Western European countries and Poland, especially since late 1790, which indicatively leveraged the further developmentof the land, the historical background and its social-economic outcomes show off the core of currentproblematics in spatial governance and the specific system resulting from it.

Historical background and causes of spatial disorder in Poland

The character and furtherance of the industrial revolution from XIX century set the beginningof contrasting discrepancies in Poland’s urban transformation process. By reason of 3 annexations of Poland between Germany, Austria and Russia that lasted over 12 decades and more importantly the division of the land between culturally and economically significant divergent countries, the industrial revolution could not progress equally in split parts, causing enormously uneven spatial and socioeconomic
development. Prussia industrialized the Silesian territory from its own capital parallel
reorganising the agricultural and guild legal system to become more labour for emerging coal mining industry; government of Galicia enabled mechanized factories on relatively small scale, which efficiently developed only the vicinity of Cracow, letting the rest remain undeveloped and highly dependable from its centre. Under the Russian seizure according to relatively low control of the conqueror and no investment from its capital, the Polish oligarchies adapted the on-going agricultural reorganisation to their own profits, leading to first uncontrolled massive privatisation and creating distinct social differences between poor and rich (vgl:.Łazor).

Within the time, the seizures had slowly stopped cooperating between each other, starting to close the boundaries, putting unfavourable custom-duties, forcing Poles to speak the former language and assuming foreign traditions and lacking 10
in extension of train connections between empires which had a meaningful impact on growing structural inequalities in occupied kingdom. After the end of WWI and partial return of lost land due to resolution of treaty of Versailles, the now so called Second Commonwealth of Poland begun its short interwar period of freedom, enthusiastically
and dynamically developing the regained country in more integral way, trying to overcome afterseizure socio-spatial differences and ravages remaining after the last war. Until 1939 this dynamic growth regarded to local scale (establishing first social housing estates or building brand new cities like modern harbour town Gdynia) as well as regional (f.e. plan of ‘functional Warsaw’) and national level (stablishing ‘Central Industry Districts) (vgl: Dutkowski).

Due to a high demand on rapid growth, the focus remained practically only on the structurally strongest cities or potentially most profitable areas that would be followed in the future by smaller and less developed ones. The sudden beginning of WWII and its harmful process stopped the functioning of the country for 6 years, leaving it in atrocious condition for next decades. Although Poland had been gradually destroyed
from the very beginning the war on both fronts, the most severe damages were caused due to military actions between German Wehrmacht and Soviet Red Army in the last 3 years of the war, resulting in demolition of Polish cities between 50-100% (1) and over 650-700 billion $ (1) of current value (vgl: Chapman).
After the end of the war the rebuild of Poland progressed politically similar to Eastern German Block and structurally comparable to the Western European countries – on one side, the sphere of USSR’s influence maybe a parallel to industrial revolution from XIX and its own practice concentrating merely on planned economy that overtook the basic forms of production on national level, eliminating the private sector and attempting to collectivize the agriculture (vgl: Daniels), consequently forcing through the principals of central controlled development; on the other hand due to an economical motivated demographic boom and growing importance of private-owned car, the Polish cities aimed for car oriented urban spaces creating more or less equal environments for most of the nation.

Even thought only the public sector was opened for the market flow and although the political principals of common wealth reduced to minimum the entitlement of citizens’ ownership, about 70% of agricultural and building land was privately owned, there was a legal opportunity to own an apartment and under certain conditions and high governmental control it was possible to run own business (vgl: Dutkowski).

The strive to have more than the others in current system was strong, so
with the time the existing class differences started to be more visible, which allowed the influential  groups, tightly bound to political scene, became more dominant and competitive between each other. After 4th June 1989 the change of the system enabled to make in unexpectedly short time very profitable deals – the hasty switch from common wealth to capitalism was beneficial for those that already had any private capital, which automatically excluded around 87% of the population (vgl:).

The sudden transition of ownership from government level to private sector in industrial, commercial and housing branches pushed forward the imposing privatisation and created, as one of its many outcomes, the direct cause of current urban, structural disorder and lawlessness.

Development of Urban and Revitalisation Legal Principles in Poland until 2015

The very first references related with customizing the building and restoration of urban and rural areas’ components were released on 13th October 1889 in Cracow Kingdom and Galicia according to the fire safety decrees issued short before seizure times in 1786 and were more concentrated on a local individual character, never really impacting any other law functioning outside of the legacy zone. The initial drafts of guidelines regarding to national spatial planning principles originated just after the WWI giving clear direction of how the needed rapid urban growth should be controlled, resulting in the very first building law and housing estate regulation from 16 February 1928 and
succeeding in sustained transformation of the country on local and national level, catching an eye of the public from all over the Europe. During that time, Polish planners were also actively engaged in cooperation with CIAM on preparing the initial release of Chart of Athene (vgl: Dutkowski) from 1927.
After WWII according to the planned economy of socialistic system, the government issued between 1946-1948 a decree of ‘planned spatial design’ that together with ‘national investment plan’ and ‘planned national economy’ defined in very general terms the hierarchy, mutual relations between plans, their procedural and release forms. Within the time was to observe that the introduced regulations were too strict and simplistic to adapt to real-time spatial problematic of rapid bringing-in of socialising economy to previously free-market country. In practice the governing parties often
repealed or did not abode the law, thereby consolidating the directive managing system that had not much to do with given directives (vgl: Dutkowski). In the so called ‘plans of spatial management’ (PSM) were linked with a problematic of never clearly defined connections between subject of regulation and the legal person standing for its execution, which did not occur even in novelisation of decree from 1984, the last before the system switch. In addition, the biggest issue through-out the whole duration
of socialistic system was that the content of PSM never needed any form of appropriation from the nation and were issued mostly in form of a general information. This included also the ownerships of the land that were dispossessed without longer-term notice in a very short span of time before the actual start of the investment. Owners tried every possible way to prevent from losing their property through f.e. investing in the immobility on a scale that would exclude it from the initial PSM plan. This
situation created a national antagonism to any kind of cooperation outside of the private sector that  echoes until nowadays, consequently leading to complete disorganisation of urban and rural
landscape.

Most of the urban structure that remained in usable condition after WWII was exploated
to the limits without any legal note that would prevent of its degradation by defining the obligation of renovationing and upkeeping the condition of the building. (vgl: Kipta)
One year after the political transformation in 1989, one of the most important structural changes in administrative law was made, renewing the existence of independently functioning self-governing communes with legal personality to widen their range of overtaken responsibilities, subordinating them in 1999 into 3-level-unit hierarchy of commune-district-voivodship. It also gave back a Due to a high need of adaption to the new system, the government had to release in 1994 new Regulation of Local Spatial Management which defined the communes as the executive parties in process of creating the spatial order aimed mostly to ownership law, parallel departing from the previous obligation of establishing the local functional plans or regarding to national planning guidelines that would bring a long term sustained plan into areas of development. The novelisation from 2003 did not help in improving th conditions of urban space. Instead of comprehensive planning guidelines, the ‘Conditions
of Development’ were released, having a direct impact on uncontrolled licencing of building investment of every kind. Due to legal gaps, the CoDs were given practically the same legal power as the content of plans based on RoLSM, which resulted in building on free land, automatically excluding an opportunity of redeveloping the already existing buildings which would improve the standard of already urbanized areas.

From the same reason CoDs became enormously problematic in historical areas. There, where the spatial context is essential, keeping the traditional scale and character of the place, or its specific way of functioning and usage, is limited only to the “remaining the historical substance” of registered protected buildings while their context stopped to be protected, because there is no legal instrument allowing unkeeping the cultural landscape and heritage, despite of UNESCO’s ratification of its conservation (vgl: Kipta). This enabled the often used practice of avoiding using the possibility of putting the zones of prevention into the plans of RoSM.

 

Problematics of Regulation of Local Spatial Management

Nowadays the need of revitalisation in Poland is enormous. The OECD report that monitors the efficiency of municipal politics estimates that 21,2% of whole urbanized areas need to be revitalized; in historical areas in inner cities is refers to about 51,8%. Around ¼ of citizens live in spatially degraded zones and the level of poverty is estimated twice higher than in rural areas (vgl: Kipta).

The reactovation of governance structure and ownership law in 1990 did not change much – most of ownerships did not have sufficient amout of private capital to renovate their properties and also were not given any actual public help to prevent from futher degradatioon of buildings. The only actual politics was to concentrate on new investments, which in consequence neglected the existing urban structure and endogenic social participation. The complexity of situation made it most cases impossible
to find a consensus between communes and citizens. From one side, it was natural that the units did not want to dissuade the investors from settling down within bounders of their areas, which would keenly rebound upon their tax incomes. From the other side it could not be expected from private owners that they will renovate their properties without any partial refund of their investments or any kind of support during the renovation process (vgl: Kipta).

This particular matter tremendously affected the condition of historical tenement houses and in consequence led not only to structural but also social degradation of many cities’ central areas, forcing their initial habitant to move out to more sustained environment and relocating the lower class to languishes living spaces. The until 2015 exiting
regulations referred only to cover the single basic needs without any long term plan dealing with degradation lasting decades, which could improve the general and the future state of urban structure. Moreover, without any common plan and professional support it was not possible to even exchange the knowledge between communes to support each other.

Poland’s vivid history of past 200 years consists of short, rapid episodes. The constant switch of political systems formed an inconsistent, ever changing set of legal principals resulting in massive spatial disorder without any elements of control. 27 years after transformation, the amount of areas that need immediate revitalisation cover more than 1/5 of total urbanized space in Poland, strengthening from spatial perspective the social contrasts inadequate to the economic potential of this emerging country. The communes that would renew neglected areas would bring not only the desired stability to their own area but would also win the citizens’ bigger willingness to participate in the redevelopment process. The past experiences showed that only by breaking the habit of not concentrating on endogenic capital and social landscape Poland may succeed in creating a sustained, competitive and dynamic environment.

As Albert Einstein once said: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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