1.2 Basic principles

The hierarchy of Territorial Planning in Lithuania is, in comparison with other European countries, rather a complex one (See Scheme 2). The Law on Territorial Planning divides planning into the corresponding levels according to two principles of classification: firstly, according to what entity approves territorial planning documents; secondly, according to the size of the territory under planning as well as the level of explication of the plan.
According to the first principle, the following levels of territorial planning shall be distinguished:
  1. the national level of the Republic of Lithuania (for territorial planning and its documents which shall be approved by the Seimas);
  2. the Government (for territorial planning and its documents which shall be approved by the Government);
  3. the Government institution (for territorial planning and its documents which shall be approved by the Government institution);
  4. the county (for territorial planning and its documents which shall be approved by the county governor);
  5. the municipality (for territorial planning and its documents which shall be approved by the Municipality Council and its authorized Administration Director of Municipality.
According to the second principle, the Law identifies four levels of territorial planning:
  1. the national level of the Republic of Lithuania - the whole territory of the State (master and special territorial planning documents are prepared);
  2. the regional - a portion of the State territory, distinguished by the administrative (county) or principal functional relation (master and special territorial planning documents are prepared);
  3. the district - a portion of a region, distinguished by the administrative (municipality) or concrete functional relation (master and special territorial planning documents are prepared);
  4. the locality - land plots or their groups (detailed and special territorial planning documents are prepared)

A system of plan levels.
The said system plays a certain schematic role - territorial plans of one type complete it entirely, while of the other - only some of "tables." For instance, according to the first principle of division into levels, the Regulations for the Drafting of Special Plans on Territories of Objects of Cultural Heritage and Their Protection Zones "occupy" only one level of planning - all special plans on objects of cultural heritage and their protection zones are territorial planning documents of the Government institution level, according to the institution approving the plan.
According to the other principle dealing with the size of a planning territory as well as the level of solutions concretization, these Regulations identify three levels of territorial plans of cultural heritage: the regional level (when the plans are prepared for counties), the district (when the plans are prepared for portions of a region, distinguished by the administrative (municipality) or concrete functional relation, and the local (when plans are prepared for land plots and their groups). One "table" of the national level is left empty even in this case.
General planning completes the scheme "tables" of levels of planning mostly.

Scheme 2. Levels of Territorial Planning in Lithuania


The Law on Territorial Planning describes the participants' role as well as their competence in planning twice: generally and in more detail - speaking about preparation of plans in separate regulations for the drafting of plans (sometimes introduced by the Government resolution, sometimes - by the Order of the Minister of Environment).
Planning in Lithuania consists of the following elements:
  • organization of planning;
  • formulation of plans (preparation of plan projects);
  • public participation in the preparation of a plan;
  • co-ordination of plans;
  • control of plan projects;
  • approval of plans;
  • supervision of the implementation of the approved planning document solutions (monitoring).

Formulation, co-ordination, consulting or public discussion and submission are approved by the executive institutions. Depending on the level of planning, an organiser of planning can be the Government or its authorized entities of public administration, the county governor, the director of the municipal administration. The system of territorial planning in Lithuania differs from that of in some European countries: (in the event of special and detailed planning) organisers of planning cannot only be the State or municipality institutions, but also legal and natural persons. Governing institutions of municipalities can conclude contracts regarding the transfer of the rights and duties of the organiser of the detailed territorial planning to the land owner, manager or user. The authorities can transfer all the rights and duties of the organiser of planning with the exception of the decision to prepare a plan and its approval. There are plenty of such cases in detailed planning. One reason for the appearance of this element in the system of planning is the fact that detailed plans must be drafted in great numbers (there is a relatively small amount of events, when one can do without the detailed plan), whereas the municipal funds are not sufficient for their preparation.
Plan projects can only be prepared by legal and natural persons having a right to formulate territorial planning documents - certified enterprises or specialists are required to perform this kind of activity.

The organiser of planning (in the case of general and sometimes special planning), referring to the approved Planning Works Programme, announces the procedure for choosing a planner of the master plan in manner stipulated by the Law on Public Procurement (1996, No. 84-2000) and other legal acts. On choosing the winner of the said procedure, the organiser of planning together with him/her conclude a contract about the performance of planning works, a works task and a timetable for the fulfilment of works are hereto attached. In practice, as demonstrated by the experience, the organiser and planner's relations are very different during the planning, depending on the type of plan, locality and concrete sectors. These relations are especially tough in the detailed planning, a bit more formal - in the planning of the Municipal territories. However, even here the organiser's participation can be so active that some Lithuanian experts in the sphere of planning are preoccupied with a decline in the professionalism of planning.

The public is informed about the preparation of plans during their formulation; when became acquainted with plan projects, it can also provide proposals and receive solutions (in preparing various plans in a bit different way). The Law on Territorial Planning distinguishes "the interested society", i.e. part of the society which is influenced or can be influenced by territorial planning document solutions or which takes interest in implementing those solutions.
Plans are co-ordinated with a) institutions of high status (which are responsible for the sectors the plan can attach significance to and b) neighbouring, territorial and administrative formations. Before preparing the document of territorial planning, the organiser of planning applies to the said institutions so that they should propose the planning conditions, but when the organiser has finished the project, he co-ordinates it with them.

Supervision of plan projects (which corresponds to certain laws, other legal documents and plans of higher levels) is performed by the appropriate subdivisions of territorial and administrative units of higher status. On the national level, control of territorial planning document projects is executed by the State Inspectorate of Territorial Planning under the Ministry of Environment; county governor's administration is responsible for carrying out control of plan projects of municipalities.
The Municipality Council approves the master and detailed plans of a municipality. The Government approve the master plans of the county, the Seimas - the master plan of the State territory. Various institutions approve special plans (Regulations for Special Plans are identified)
The Law on Territorial Planning (Article 10, 7) state that control, supervision and observation (monitoring) of the implementation of territorial planning document solutions are performed after having approved the master plans. When they have been approved, another prominent stage of their existence emerges (a bit different with detailed and special plans).

Municipal Administration (local authorities) performs control, supervision and monitoring of the approved master plans of a municipality. Before each election, Municipal Administration reports on monitoring to the Municipality Council.
County governor's administration carries out monitoring of the solutions of the county master plans, while monitoring of the implementation of other plans of higher levels is conducted by the Ministry of Environment. Before the elections to the Seimas, report on monitoring of the implementation of solutions of the county and higher levels is submitted to the Government. In carrying out monitoring of the implementation of almost all master plans, one follows the principle that seldom does the institution approving the plan receives information about the findings of monitoring. The General Plan of the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania is the exception. The Seimas approving it does not hear the report on the results of implementing the plan (Description of the procedure for the Preparation of the General Plan of the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania. Resolution No. 753 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania 16-06-2004).
Monitoring of implementing the master plans of the county and municipalities has an element of publicity, although the Law focuses much more on public participation in the preparation of those plans rather than on their implementation. The Law refers to it very abstractly: implementing bodies of the municipal and county plans have to inform the public about realisation of general territorial planning document solutions in their own Internet page (on the municipal level and in press). The public may not be notified on the implementation of the solutions of the General Plan of the Republic of Lithuania in accordance with the description of the procedure for the Preparation of the General plan of the State Territory of the Republic of Lithuania.

Institutions of all levels of governing (local authorities, county governor's administration and the Government) prepare plans of the corresponding level and perform monitoring of implementing the prepared plans.
Besides, governing institutions of higher status discharge additional functions, i.e. county governors' administrations and the Ministry of Environment perform supervision of the prepared planning document projects of lower level. The Law on Territorial Planning foresees the Government role in forming the planning policy of the State territories. The Ministry of Environment executes its technical part.

The following types of plans can be distinguished in the system of Lithuanian planning: general (comprehensive), special (sectorial) and detailed. This is not a mistake - the Law treats the detailed plan not as the level of planning, but as the type. The Law on Territorial Planning describes the afore-mentioned types of planning as:
"General territorial planning - a comprehensive planning for establishing the territorial spatial development policy, the priorities in the use and protection of a territory as well as the principal means of its management."
"Special territorial planning - planning of means related to spatial organization, management, use and protection of a territory necessary for separate types of activities."
"Detailed territorial planning - planning of parts of the municipality territory for determining the limits of a land plot as well as for establishing, changing or abolishing the conditions for using a land plot and developing an activity in it."
The Law on Territorial Planning outlines the whole system of territorial planning and regulates all types of planning to a certain degree. As a rule, other laws also outline the said system stating that their regulating documents are formulated in conformity with the Law on Territorial Planning. For instance, the Law on Protected Territories writes that "managing protected territories and developing an activity in them is carried out in accordance with the documents of general and special territorial planning as well as of strategic planning, and the regulations which are established by the said documents and prepared in full conformity with the provisions of the Law on Territorial Planning and the Law on Construction."
Special planning is influenced by a big number of other laws and post-statutory acts with the exception of the Law on Territorial Planning. Most laws and post-statutory acts are applied to the protection of natural and cultural heritage (the Law on Environment Protection, the Law on Protected Territories, and the Law on Protection of the Immovable Cultural Properties).
There is no law applied to the detailed planning: it is only regulated by the Law on Territorial Planning and the Regulations for the Drafting of Detailed Plans which are approved by the Order of the Minister of Environment.