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COST Action C11

Spatial Planning in Italy

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Spatial Planning in Italy

Maurizio Meriggi


Oct 01

1. Italian system of environmental planning

 Back to Working Group 2 notes

2. Policies for environmental planning, some examples

3. Challenges


1. Italian system of environmental planning


The Italian system of environmental planning is based substantially on: cataloguing of areas subject to environmental limitations, identified by the Regions (through Regional Territorial Landscape Plans); management and design of green areas at a local municipal level (through Master Plans and various forms of Detail Plans).

The use of instruments of coordination between landscape planning on a regional scale and planning on a municipal scale is now in the preparatory phase through the Territorial Coordination Plans.


Main environmental protection laws - cataloguing


"Testo unico delle disposizioni legislative in materia di beni culturali e ambientali" (Unified text of legislative stipulations regarding cultural and environmental assets) (L.490/99)

The environmental protection standards in Italy are found today in a law that was passed in 1999, which groups the contents of legislative measures enacted since the 1920s, but clearly defined by:

- two laws from the end of the 1930s, "Tutela delle cose di interesse artistico e storico" (Safeguarding of things of artistic and historical interest) (L. 1089 of 1939) and "Protezione delle bellezze naturali" (Protection of natural

beauties) (L. 1497 of 1939), which were based on listings made by the Provinces of assets or territories to be protected, submitted to the Ministry of National Education;

- the updating in the 1980s of the law from '39, with L. 431 (known as the Galasso Act, due to the name of its writer), which extends the categories of assets and places to which to apply protection regulations[1], leading to an increase in the land area covered by legal protection from the amount stipulated in L.1497/39, or 17.42%, to 46.81% of the national territory (for a total of 141,000 km2 out of the national total of 301,263 km2), while above all delegating to the Regions (19 in number, instituted in 1974) "the administrative functions exercised by the central and peripheral organs of the State for the protection of natural beauties, in terms of their identification, protection

and relative sanctions".


Parks and "Legge quadro sulle aree protette" (Framework law on protected areas) (L. 394, 1991)

The formation of protected natural areas in Italy dates back to the early 1920s, with the institution of a series of National Parks - 5 until 1968. With the creation of the Regions, since 1974 a large number of Regional Nature Parks has been formed &endash; over 100 until today &endash; to which another 16 new National parks were added in the 1990s. 

As a whole the area of the National Parks, Regional Nature Parks and Regional Protected Areas amounts to over 10% of the national territory.

The national law "Legge quadro sulle aree protette", dated 1991, protects locations classified as National Parks, Regional Nature Parks, Nature Reserves (in keeping with definitions and aims similar to those identified by international agreements).

The Law stipulates that these areas should have Plans, which have the "effect of a declaration of general public interest and urgency, and of impossibility of postponing the interventions specified, replacing at all levels landscape, territorial or urban plans or any other planning instrument".

Therefore the Plans have effect both inside and outside the edified centers.

Moreover, the law provides for incentives for municipalities and provinces that are part of national or regional parks, assigning "priority in the concession of financing for the realization of the following interventions: restoration of historical centers or of edifices of particular historical and cultural value; recycling of rural settlement nuclei; works of sanitation and drinking water; works of conservation and environmental restoration of the territory, including agricultural and forestry activities; cultural activities in the fields of interest of the park; agricultural tourism; compatible sporting activities; structures of energy sources with low environmental impact".


Master Plan (Piano Regolatore Generale, PRG) - management

In Italy all the municipalities, no matter what their size, must prepare a Master Plan in which the green areas are defined in the form of urban planning standards (computed as percentages with respect to the number of inhabitants and the land areas of the zones covered by the plans); nevertheless, the Italian legal system does not call for a technically autonomous Urban Greenery Plan that would define the system of urban greenery, specifying typologies and functions. The Master Plans of the municipalities that lie inside protected areas, however, must by law obey the indications of the Plans of the parks.

The regional urban planning laws &endash; with slight variations from region to region on the subject of green areas &endash; stipulate the minimum quantities of public greenery in keeping with the following quantities:

- for residential settlements, 26.5 sq m. per inhabitant for public facilities or places of public interest in which at least 50% of the area is green, or facilities for play or sports, which can effectively be utilized as such; to this end it is possible to count the areas inserted in regional and super-municipal parks; green belts along streets, on the other hand, are excluded from the computation.

- for new industrial settlements at least 10% of the entire area, for public spaces or collective activities, public greenery and parking;

-  for new commercial or office settlements at least 75-100 sq m for every 100 sq m (in keeping with the zoning definition) of new edification, of which at least half is set aside for parking, and the rest for other functions, including greenery;

- in the municipalities that host inter-municipal facilities, in relation to the population of the territory served, added spaces for public facilities of general interest are called for, to the extent of 17.5 sq m/inhab. for development, of which at least 10 sq m/inhab. must be utilized for urban and territorial public parks.

In cities of interest for tourism regional laws have imposed the addition of 5 sq m/inhab. of greenery for every seasonal visitor.


Territorial Plans - coordination

Both the environmental protection law of 1939 and the urban planning law of 1942 called for forms of territorial planning capable of including in a single instrument sizeable parts and consistent units of the green system.

Planning experiments were conducted in this sense, with the development of territorial landscape plans or inter-municipal plans, but it was not until the Galasso Act that regions were obliged to develop a Regional Territorial Landscape Plan.

The Italian Regions have taken over a decade to complete this instrument, and the first results have only begun to be visible over the last few years. Nevertheless, this instrument is limited to general recommendations developed on the basis of surveys made on a scale of 1:25000, without implementational purposes of protection, which are still left up to the Master Plans of the individual municipalities (prepared on the scale of 1:5000-1:2000) and the Detail Plans (on a scale of 1:500-200).

At present Territorial Coordination Plans are being prepared, with landscape content on a Provincial scale. However, due to the lack of this type of instrument certain parts of the Italian territory have been planned with instruments on a territorial scale through the Plans of the Parks, which constitute, thanks to the National Law on Protected Areas (1991) and the regional laws (since 1974), true instruments of territorial planning. As we have already seen, the

Park Plans (prepared on a scale of 1:25000) have the effect of a declaration of general public interest and urgency, and of the impossibility of postponing the interventions specified, replacing at all levels landscape, territorial or urban plans or any other planning instrument.


[1] The categories covered by environmental protection in L. 490/99 (previously identified in the law of 1985) are:

a) coastal territories in a strip with a width of 300 m from the waterline, including higher ground above the sea;

b) territories around lakes in a strip with a width of 300 m from the waterline, including higher ground above the lakes;

c) rivers, streams and waterways contained in the lists utilized by the unified text of the legislative measures on bodies of water and electrical plants, (...), and the relative banks for a width of 150 m on each side;

d) mountains in the part exceeding 1600 m above sea level for the Alpine chain and 1200 m above sea level for the Apennine chain and the islands;

e) glaciers and glacial cirques;

f) national or regional parks and reserves, as well as protected territories outside of the parks;

g) territories covered with forests or woods, even if damaged by fire, and those for which reforestation has been stipulated;

h) areas assigned to agricultural universities and zones set aside for civic uses;

i) wet zones;

l) volcanoes;

m) zones of archaeological interest.

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