New law protecting allotment sheds went into effect on the 30th April 2015! - 15.07.2015
The new law amends the Building Act and other acts concerning construction on allotments. The adoption of this law, which protects 900 thousand allotment sheds from being demolished, is unquestionable success of the Polish Allotment Gardens Federation (PZD) and hundreds of thousands of allotment gardeners, whose support enabled bringing to Parliament a citizens draft law.
In January 2014 The Supreme Administrative Court issued a judgment that used the dictionary definition of the word "shed" changing the interpretation of this term which was to be understood as only a light garden pavilion not permanently bound to the ground with transparent walls. This interpretation meant that over 900 thousand Polish allotment sheds could’ve been considered as unauthorized a construction and ordered to be demolished at the expense of their users. What's more, it also gave an excuse to deny compensation for the sheds in the case of a allotment liquidation, as well as to tax the allotment gardeners.
In defense of the gardeners, the National Council of the PZD initiated the preparation of a civil draft law amending the construction law. It was prepared and submitted to the Parliament by a Legislative Committee represented by attorney Bartłomiej Piech and attorney Tomasz Terlecki. Very important for the smooth adoption of the bill was the involvement of Prime Minister of Poland Ewa Kopacz who, during the special meeting with the President of the PZD Eugeniusz Kondracki and the representatives of The Committee proposed governmental amendments to the draft. The PZD President Eugeniusz Kondracki and representatives of the Committee also argued the need to change the law during the meetings with parliamentarians. The importance of the issue resolved by this draft was proven by more than 700,000 signatures in support of this proposal that were collected in less than 3 months.
The work on the draft in the Parliament committees went very smoothly. The new law was adopted in the Parliament almost unanimously, so that the President of Poland could sign it very quickly on the 2nd of April 2015. As a result it was promulgated on the 15th of April 2015.
The new law precisely defines the meaning of an allotment shed. It is a construction with a floor area of maximum 35 square meters and a height up to 5 m (4 m with a flat roof) with terrace, porch or veranda of less than 12 square meters. Moreover, the allotment gardeners are exempt from the obligation to obtain a permit for these constructions. Importantly, all of the sheds built before the entry into force of the new law that meet these criteria are considered legal.
The fight for allotment sheds once again proved that the allotment gardeners, thanks to their unity within the PZD, are a group to be reckoned with that can effectively defend their interests.
The Act from the 20th of March 2015 amending the Building Act and other acts was promulgated in the Journal of Laws dated 2015 as position 528.
Media Department in the Polish Allotment Gardens Federation
Author: Andrzej Penkalla
The article is translated by Agnieszka Drążek