Urban Land in Specially Protected Natural Areas: Regulations Relaxed and Detail Added

11.02.2021

Legal Update No 833

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (formerly Goltsblat BLP in Russia) advises that Federal Law No. 505-FZ dated 30 December 2020 “Amending the Federal Law “On Specially Protected Natural Areas” and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation” (the “Law”) has come into force.

This law covers the regulatory specifics of land, town-planning and other matters relating to settlements within specially protected natural areas (SPNAs), and affects a quite huge land pool: some estimates report over 900 settlements in 27 national parks, 250 in 18 federally important sanctuaries and over 1,000 in regionally important SPNAs.

Of primary importance: there are now no restrictions on transactions with urban land within federally or regionally significant SPNAs. So such land plots may be sold or purchased, i.e., transferred from state or municipal ownership under the land legislation (article 3.1 of Federal Law dated 14 March 1995 “On Specially Protected Natural Areas”). On the other hand, this will only apply to settlements with boundaries reported and recorded on the Property Register (article 6 of the Law), whereas the records entered so far account for only about a third of all the settlements in Russia.

The law attributes land plots within SPNA-based settlements to urban land (clause 2, article 95 of the Russian Land Code), though previously there were certain difficulties in determining whether they should be treated as SPNA or urban land.

The specifics of obtaining town-planning documentation approval for such settlements are also set out in detail: master plans, and land use and development rules are to be approved by federal and regional executive bodies in charge of such SPNAs (part 4.1, article 25, and part 8.4, article 31 of the Russian Town-Planning Code).

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