Milan and the new urban planning regulations: a turning point after the investigations


Emma Potter

Following in-depth investigations conducted by the judiciary, the Municipality of Milan has introduced (through a circular) stricter rules for demolition and reconstruction interventionssubstantially modifying the approach followed up to now.

One of the most significant measures is the temporary suspension of the possibility of proceeding with a simple Certified Report of the Start of Activity (SCIA), a decision that represents an act of responsibility, as underlined by the councilor for Urban Regeneration, Giancarlo Tancredi. This move is part of a context of greater caution and rigor, aimed at preventing further judicial stumbles and responding adequately to the objections raised by the judge for preliminary investigations (gip).

The change of direction affects various aspects of the building process, from gross surface management in case of demolition and reconstructionup to the need to undergo more detailed implementation plans for certain types of interventions.

These new directives not only seek to safeguard the integrity of the urban fabric and respect the morphological norms of the Territorial Government Plan (Pgt), but also introduce more stringent criteria for the evaluation of interventions and the monetization of urban planning standards, significantly impacting on times and costs of carrying out projects.

Judicial investigations: what happened?

The situation being experienced in Milan has reached such levels of concern as to directly involve the mayor Beppe Sala, who said he was concerned about the recent investigations involving the Urban Regeneration department and several key building projects for the city.

The letter signed by 140 municipal employeeswho ask to be transferred following the investigations on the regeneration of some important Milanese siteshighlighted a crisis of trust and a situation of tension within the municipal administration.

The Prosecutor's Office's investigations involved the Urban Regeneration Department (formerly known as Urban Planning) of the Municipality of Milan, in relation to various construction projects. Among these, the building in Piazza Aspromonte, the condominiums in Via Stresa, and the Park Towers at Parco Lambro are specifically mentioned. The investigations focus on possible irregularities in the approval and management processes of these building projects, which represent significant interventions in the urban fabric and planning of the city.

What are the changes reported in the circular?

The circular issued by the Municipality of Milan introduces several important changes regarding the management of demolition and reconstruction interventions in the urban context of the city, in response to investigations by the judiciary and with the aim of ensuring greater compliance with current regulations.

Here are the main changes:

  • Temporary suspension of SCIA
    One of the most significant changes is the temporary suspension of the possibility of proceeding with a simple Certified Report of Initiation of Activity (SCIA) for demolition and reconstruction interventions. This means that such operations, at least temporarily, will require more complex and detailed procedures.
  • Mandatory implementation plans
    For interventions that deviate from the morphological norms of the Territorial Government Plan (Pgt) or which involve constructions in areas not previously built on, it is necessary to undergo an implementation plan. This represents a more detailed urban planning tool than the simple building permit and implies greater complexity in the design and approval phases.
  • Assessment for built-up areas
    Even for constructions planned in already built-up areas it may be necessary to evaluate the subjection to an implementation plan, depending on the specifics of the project and its urban planning implications.
  • Equivalent to new construction
    The circular equates all demolition and reconstruction interventions that radically modify the pre-existing appearance to new construction. Consequently, the provision of services and related charges will have to be quantified as if they were new buildings, with possible implications on construction costs.
  • Monetization of standards
    The regulations relating to the monetization of standards also change and are now examined with greater scrutiny. In some cases, it may be possible to request an adjustment to adapt to the new requirements imposed by the circular.
  • Consistency Check
    Finally, at the end of the investigation, those responsible for the proceedings, together with the managers, can submit the project to a Working Group for a check of consistency with the indications provided in the circular, as an additional measure of caution and control.

These changes aim to introduce a greater level of detail and rigor in urban planning and construction procedures, in response to the complaints emerging from judicial investigations and with the aim of preventing future judicial stumbles.

Industry reactions and future implications

The reaction of the operators in the sector was not long in coming. While on the one hand there is an understanding of a greater need for transparency and correctness, on the other the industry finds itself having to recalibrate many of its business plans in light of the new provisions.

The legislation, in fact, not only imposes greater detail in the implementation plans, but equates demolition and reconstruction interventions that radically modify the existing structure to new constructions, with all that this entails in terms of services and costs.

A point of particular attention concerns the monetization of urban planning standards, which came under the scrutiny of the investigating judge. The changes introduced could result in increased costs for operators, who, in some cases, may request an adjustment. This aspect introduces an element of financial uncertainty which could negatively impact investment planning and the development of new projects.

Prudence is also the watchword in the project investigation phase, where an in-depth check of consistency with the new indications is envisaged. This step, while essential to ensure compliance with regulations, is destined to prolong approval times, increasing uncertainty for investors and potentially crowding the halls of administrative justice due to possible appeals.

Despite these challenges, councilor Tancredi remains optimistic, highlighting how the main objective is to find a quick solution that satisfies the general public interest. It is clear that the administration tries to balance the need for rigor and transparency with that of keeping the Milanese real estate market alive and attractive, a delicate balance in a period of profound transformations for the urban planning sector.

These new regulations mark a turning point for Milan, proposing an urban management model that could serve as an example at a national level. Attention to sustainability, legality and innovation remains a priority for the city, which continues to navigate between development needs and the need to protect the territory and the quality of life of its inhabitants.