In 2015, in another amendment to the Act on Spatial Planning and Development a provision was introduced about the need to perform balancing of the area for development. One of the balancing components is to estimate the capacity of two types of areas: the first are characterized by a fully developed compact functional and spatial structure, whereas the second are intended for development in local plans. Capacity is understood as the ability to locate new buildings in these areas. Such approach brings down the discussed aspect to the local scale. The article proposes an innovative approach to the capacity problem of sub-regional areas, i.e. functional areas of urban regional centres. The thesis was adopted that effective management of these areas'development imposes the presentation of capacity problems in a supra-local scale. The purpose of the study is to present the method (based on the set of indicators) used to construct the initial characteristics of municipalities included in the functional area, as a basis for estimating the capacity of particular areas. Such approach allows balancing the spatial resources of different functional areas across the entire functional area, protecting valuable natural areas from excessive anthropopression, protecting and preserving open areas, reducing the costs of technical infrastructure extension, intensifying development rather than dispersing it on a large area.
Estimating the potential capacity of a functional area, using public statistical resources, facilitates the task and provides the opportunity to compare the results obtained in time and space. The proposed index method can turn out useful in coordinating the guidelines for planning and spatial management of thefunctional area of a regional centre.