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By Tony Favro –

In Albania, there are two major planning instruments, which municipalities use for their planning and land development tasks: 1) the General Local Territorial Plan (GLTP); and, 2) the Local Detailed Plan (LDP).

The USAID Planning and Local Governance Project provided intensive support to five municipalities – Berat, Elbasan, Fier, Kuçova, and Lushnja – in preparing and adopting GLTPs. Now, the USAID project is helping the same municipalities and the Municipality of Tirana to develop local detailed plans.

In March, the USAID Project and the National Territorial Planning Agency (NTPA) hosted a training-workshop on drafting LDPs for about 25 municipal planners from the five municipalities. The primary objective of the workshop was to review the municipalities’ progress with their LDPs, answer any legal and technical questions the planners might have, and evaluate opportunities for PLGP to address anticipated needs. The active engagement at the workshop showed how well the planners recognized the role of LDPs to create positive change in their communities.

The steering of most land development within a municipality takes place through the LDP, which is also the primary instrument that the municipality uses to implement many of the recommendations of the GLTP.

A Local Detailed Plan enables, among other things, the municipality to regulate the use of land and what the built environment is to look like in a particular area. LDPs may regulate, for example, where new buildings may or must be placed, how large or tall they may be, and how much distance there must be between a building and the parcel boundary. The Local Detailed Plan also has to show public places for streets, roads, squares, parks, schools, nurseries, and so on. The regulations in the LDPs are legally binding for subsequent building permit applications.

LDPs are generally prepared when redevelopment or urban regeneration is proposed in an area of a municipality, or “structural unit”, which usually encompasses several city blocks. These units are indentified in the GLTP as locations where more investment or economic regeneration are desired.

The LDP is the proper instrument for these cases, as it intends to regulate property relations and economic interests among stakeholders involved in the development while preserving public interest at large.

When LDPs result from the interests of private developers, they can help ensure that the supply of land and property matches the demands of modern businesses and investors and their need to capitalize on economic opportunities. When LDPs are initiated by municipalities, they usually intend to meet community needs and stimulate private development. For example, the Municipality of Elbasan proposes to build a new public multimodal transport terminal for better mobility, to bridge existing physical and social barriers, and to catalyze new private housing and commercial development in the surrounding area.

The Municipality of Fier is exploring a partnership to build a sports center and improve access to the riverfront and to embrace this natural asset as a core destination within the municipal center and as a stimulus for further private development. In other words, LDPs are a powerful tool for municipalities to leverage new growth and redevelopment to improve the community. They can help ensure that residents have a role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new economic development proposals that are aligned with the strategic priorities of a GLTP.

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