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'Covid Act' residential developments in Bemowo, Poland

12th section of the ‘Covid Act’ lasted 180 days in 2020, introducing a far-reaching facilitations of the construction process. Developers took advantage of this situation. The Poles will struggle with the consequences of this imprecise law for many years.


At the end of February 2020, Poland was already facing a threat of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. The authorities decided to introduce a temporary law that was enabling the management of health crises. Above all, they wanted to be prepared for the necessity of immediate and express construction of facilities (e.g. hospitals) in which people would be saved, without a long administrative procedure [1]. On March 8, the ‘Act of March 2, 2020 on specific solutions related to the prevention and combating COVID and other infectious diseases and crises they caused’ (in brief ‘COVID Act’) took effect nationwide.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:'Covid Act' residential developments in Bemowo, Poland
State or province:Warsaw
Location of conflict:Bemowo
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The overall scale of activities of developers using the ‘COVID Act’ was known on May 26, 2021. The media reported that the construction supervision throughout the country took a closer look at as many as 430 such investments. More than half of them turned out to be questionable, and prosecution proceedings were initiated against 60 projects [21].

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Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:07/09/2020
Company names or state enterprises:SAWA APARTMENTS SP. Z.O.O. from Poland - One of the 'COVID Act' developer / plot no. 180 owner in the Bemowo Forest
MS KING SP. Z.O.O. (MS King) from Poland - one of the 'COVID Act' developer / investor in the Mechelinki village
RSJ HOUSE SP. Z.O.O. (RSJ HOUSE) from Poland - one of the 'COVID Act' developer / investor in the Wieliszewo village
Relevant government actors:Related to the 'Bemowo Forest' case:
- Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska (Ministry of Climate and Environment)
- Generalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska (General Directorate for Environmental Protection)
- Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska w Warszawie (Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Warsaw)
- Starostwo Powiatowe Warszawskie Zachodnie w Ożarowie Maozwieckim (West Warsaw Office County in Ożarów Mazowiecki)
- Urząd Gminy w Starych Babicach (Commune Office in Stare Babice)
- Dyrekcja Kampinoskiego Parku Narodowego (Directorate of the Kampinos National Park)
- Główny Inspektorat Nadzoru Budowlanego (Chief Inspectorate of Construction Supervision)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Related to the 'Bemowo Forest' case:
- 'NIE dla zabudowy Lasu Bemowskiego' [NO for the development of the Bemowo Forest’] - social initiative
- Stowarzyszenie Babice dla Przyrody [Babice for Nature Association]
- Stowarzyszenie Nasz Bóbr [Our Beaver Association]
- Stowarzyszenie Boernerowo [Boernerowo Association]
- Kongres Ruchów Miejskich (Congress of Urban Movements) - agreement of female activists and activists associated in several urban movements in Poland
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
neighborhood monitoring, educational walks, forest cleaning actions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsloss of recreational places
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:In the case of a private plot no. 180 in the Bemowo Forest, local residents and activists want to leave this area in its natural form for recreational purposes. The Commune Office in Stare Babice is ready to buy a plot of land for PLN 20 per m2.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Some 'COVID Act' residential investments have already been suspended. On May 20, 2021, the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw dismissed the developer's complaint against the decision of the Mazovian Building Supervision Inspector of November 3, 2020, suspending the construction of a housing estate in the Bemowo Forest. Activists announced success, covid housing estates will not be built [22].

However, the full success of environmental justice cannot be announced. Many estates all over Poland have already been established, as in the village of Mechelinki. It will be difficult to demolish them.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[2] Ustawa z dnia 2 marca 2020 r. o szczególnych rozwiązaniach związanych z zapobieganiem, przeciwdziałaniem i zwalczaniem COVID-19, innych chorób zakaźnych oraz wywołanych nimi sytuacji kryzysowych (Act of March 2, 2020 on specific solutions related to the prevention and combating COVID and other infectious diseases and crises they caused)
[click to view]

[17] Uchwała Nr VIII/55/11 z dnia 30 czerwca 2011 r. w sprawie uchwalenia miejscowego planu zagospodarowania przestrzennego Gminy Stare Babice (Resolution No. VIII / 55/11 of 30 June 2011 on the adoption of the Local Spatial Development Plan of the Stare Babice Commune)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[7[ Kwiatkowska-Malina J., Popis A. (2011). Zabudowa cennych obszarów przyrodniczych w strukturze miasta w wyniku braku miejscowych planów zagospodarowania przestrzennego (Urbanization of valuable natural areas within the city structure as a result of lack of local spatial development plans). Studia KPZK.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Polskie Radio. Radio dla Ciebie (2020, September 16). Osiedle przy Łosiowych Błotach. Deweloper odpiera zarzuty (The estate at 'Elk Swamps'. The developer refutes the allegations)
[click to view]

[3] Dyga M. (2020, September 25). Rzeczpospolita. COVID pozwala budować wszystko, gdzie się da (COVID allows you to build anything you can)
[click to view]

[5] Sulowski K. (2021, March 30). Warszawa. Kolejny krok do powstrzymania "covidowego osiedla" w Lesie Bemowskim (Next step to stop the "covid estate" in the Bemowo Forest)
[click to view]

[1] Woś M. (2020, October 9). PRAWO.PL. Nadzór budowlany bezsilny wobec COVID-owych inwestycji (Construction supervision powerless against COVID-related investments)
[click to view]

[6] (2020, September 10). Osiedle w lesie. Jest zawiadomienie do nadzoru budowlanego i policji (A housing estate in the woods. There is a notice for construction supervision and police)
[click to view]

[10] TVN Warszawa (2020, September 10). W otulinie rezerwatu planują zbudować osiedle dla osób w kwarantannie. RDOŚ mówi o umyślnym naruszeniu zakazów (They plan to build a housing estate for people in quarantine in the buffer zone of the reserve. RDOŚ speaks of a deliberate violation of the prohibitions)
[click to view]

[14] Kromer O. (2020, September 15). Warszawa. Prokuratura wstrzymuje budowę osiedla koło rezerwatu w Lesie Bemowskim. Deweloperowi grozi nawet 8 lat więzienia (The prosecutor's office suspends the construction of an estate near the reserve in the Bemowo Forest The developer is facing up to 8 years in prison)
[click to view]

[15] Makarewicz N. , Piekarski M. (2020, September 12). Radio RMF24.PL. Protest w Lesie Bemowskim. Deweloper chce zbudować osiedle w otulinie rezerwatu (Protest in the Bemowo Forest. The developer wants to build a housing estate in the buffer zone of the reserve)
[click to view]

[11] Urząd Gminy Stare Babice (2020, September 18). Oświadczenie Urzędu Gminy Stare Babice w sprawie wydanego komunikatu inwestora – działka 180 (Statement of the Stare Babice Commune Office on the investor's announcement - plot 180)
[click to view]

[16] Byszewski G., Kozubal M. (2008, February 9). Rzeczpospolita Warszawa. Oskarżeni za przekręt przy Łosiowych Błotach (Accused of the scam at 'Elk Swamps')
[click to view]

[20] Fryc K. (2020, September 24). Trójmiasto. Covidowe osiedle przy plaży w Mechelinkach. Wójt: To samowola budowlana (Covid estate by the beach in Mechelinki. Mayor: This is unauthorized construction)
[click to view]

[19] TVN24 Pomorze (2021, October 6). Nad morzem powstają domy "przeciwdziałające COVID-19". Budowę sprawdza prokuratura (Houses "counteracting COVID-19" are being built at the seaside. The construction is checked by the prosecutor's office)
[click to view]

[18] Wojtkowicz W. (2020, September 10). UrbNews. Deweloper chce budować osiedle na podstawie pandemicznej “tarczy” (The developer wants to build a housing estate on the basis of a pandemic "shield")
[click to view]

[12] TVP.INFO (2020, September 14). Osiedle w środku warszawskiego lasu. Minister zawiadamia prokuraturę (A housing estate in the middle of the Warsaw forest. The minister notifies the prosecutor's office)
[click to view]

[21] Michalik B. (2021, May 27). BusinessInsider. "Covidowe" osiedle nad Zatoką Pucką. Sprawę bada nadzór budowlany ('Covid' housing estate on Puck Bay. The case is being investigated by the construction supervision)
[click to view]

[8] Wojtczuk M. (2020, September 10). Wyborcza. pl Warszawa. Tamę bobrów zniszczył samowolnie deweloper budujący "na koronawirusa" osiedle w środku lasu. Zawiadomiono policję (The beaver dam was intentionally destroyed by a developer building a housing estate 'on the coronavirus' in the middle of the forest. The police were notified)
[click to view]

[22] Glinianowska A. (2021, June 9). Warszawa.Nasze Miasto. Inwestor chciał wybudować covidowe osiedle przy Łosiowych Błotach. Jest decyzja sądu (The investor wanted to build a covid estate at the Elk Swamps. There is a court decision)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[9] 'NO for the development of the Bemowo Forest' Facebook account. (2020, September 7).
[click to view]

[13] 'Babice for Nature Association' Facebook account. (2020, October 15).
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Maciej Kałaska, [email protected] Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw
Last update12/06/2021
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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