The recent regulatory amendments have significantly broadened the scope of areas designated as reserve building zones, allowing for both new and existing residential areas to be identified as such. This pivotal change, enacted through the Law on the Transformation of Disaster-Prone Areas and Some Laws, published in the Official Gazette on November 9, 2023, and Law Decree No. 375, has virtually lifted various restrictions related to the determination of reserve building areas.

This article delves into details of the new definition for reserve building areas, and the utilization of them within the scope of new regulations. 

What is a Reserve Building Area?

As defined in the provisions of Law No. 6306, reserve building areas are described as areas designated at the request of the Minister of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate Change or Housing Development Administration of the Republic of Türkiye (TOKİ), or areas determined by the Ministry ex officio, to be used in applications carried out under this Law. 

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How are Reserve Building Areas Utilized?

Areas declared as reserve building zones can be utilized for the establishment of reserve housing and workplaces for those residing in risky areas and risky structures, in line with the standards of science and art and the purposes envisaged in the Law.

Changes in the Definition of Reserve Building Areas

The recent amendment with Law No. 7471, effective as of November 9, 2023, has led to a profound transformation in the definition of reserve building areas. By omitting the phrase “as a new settlement area,” the legislation now empowers authorities to designate both new and existing settlement zones as reserve building areas. This alteration removes nearly all previous constraints related to the identification of these zones. The shift in language raises intriguing questions within legal and urban development circles. It allows for the possibility of designating parcels within established settlement areas as reserve building zones, presenting an opportunity for urban transformation even in regions not categorized as new settlement areas. This shift introduces a nuanced complexity, especially considering the potential application of reserve building announcements in non-disaster-prone regions, opening the door to their inclusion in urban renewal initiatives.

How will the Application of Reserve Building Areas Work?

While the legislation is clear on the request-based nature of reserve building announcements for privately owned properties, the actual operational dynamics of this process remain a matter of uncertainty. The legislative rationale emphasizes a judicial challenge to the “reserve building determination process,” highlighting the importance of preemptively avoiding administrative process annulment cases in settled areas. This signifies a strategic legislative maneuver to anticipate potential conflicts and streamline the administrative procedure. The complexity arises in the intersection of legislative intent and practical execution. Understanding the intricacies of how the judiciary will interpret and apply these legislative changes is crucial for stakeholders involved in urban planning, real estate, and legal sectors.

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Criteria for Determining Reserve Building Areas

The identification of reserve building areas necessitates a meticulous alignment with the objectives outlined in Law No. 6306. Beyond being in proximity to regions earmarked for urban transformation and preferably on publicly-owned lands, these areas must demonstrate suitability for structured development with robust measures against disaster risks. The law explicitly extends its reach to apply risky building area regulations within reserve building areas. 

This not only involves the physical aspects of construction but also encompasses considerations related to demolition, evacuation, sale, and decision-making processes within these areas. This intricate interplay of legal provisions and practical implications underscores the complexity involved in the determination of reserve building areas. It brings to light the multifaceted nature of considerations that urban planners, legal practitioners, and property owners must grapple with in the wake of this regulatory evolution.

How to Challenge the Determination of Reserve Building Areas?

Challenging the determination of a reserve building area involves a specific legal process under administrative law. As there is no distinct appeal procedure for this determination, it can be contested through an annulment lawsuit, considering it as an administrative act. The legal action to annul the determination of a reserve building area is filed in the administrative court where the property is situated.

An essential legal point is Article 24 of the Council of State Law, designating the Council of State as the court of first instance for annulment actions against regulatory acts carried out by ministries nationwide. Consequently, there’s a prevailing view in legal doctrine that lawsuits aiming to annul the determination of a reserve structure will be adjudicated by the Council of State.

It’s crucial to highlight that the impact of a reserve structure determination is localized, applying only to the specific area identified. Council of State decisions underscore the authority of administrative courts in annulment cases related to reserve structures. In a decision dated 19.09.2021, the Council of State’s 6th Chamber ruled that the competent court for such cases is the administrative courts in the relevant locality.

Within the scope of that initiating an annulment lawsuit comes with specific timelines. The lawsuit must be filed within thirty days from the notification of the reserve structure determination to the involved parties. Additionally, within the scope of this lawsuit, a stay of execution can be requested. All these aspects are regulated in paragraph 9 of Article 6 of Law No. 6306. The article specifies, “A lawsuit can be filed against the administrative actions established pursuant to this Law within thirty days from the date of notification in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Law dated 6/1/1982 and numbered 2577.” This regulatory framework ensures a defined legal process.

Significantly, an amendment to the law has introduced an expedited trial procedure for annulment lawsuits related to administrative acts based on damage assessment reports. This special provision applies to cases related to damages caused by earthquakes occurring on 6/2/2023 and subsequent seismic events. The regulation also addresses defense periods for the administration and rules regarding objections to decisions on the suspension of execution.

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For legal advice in Turkey or assistance with real estate matters, specifically for your concerns about reserve building areas under the new regulation, Alfa Law is your trustworthy partner. As English-speaking attorneys in Izmir, Antalya, and Istanbul, we are primed to cater to your specific needs. Don’t navigate the legal complexities alone; let Alfa Law guide you to success.

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