1.6 Current and upcoming changes

The present Land Use and Building Act is relatively new, however, the main principles in the legislation have not changed very much compared to the previous Act. The functioning of the new Act has been quite extensively studied during these five years it has been in force.

According to these studies, in general, the planning system is seen to be working quite well in different kind of planning situations both in the growing centres and elsewhere in the country. However, especially planning practitioners working in the local authorities have pointed out some problematic issues:

  • planning resources: in the municipalities these have reduced since 1990 some 10%. Also other related actors, like regional environment centres and state sectoral authorities suffer from the lack of resources, which further retards planning processes.
  • Informing about planning has become more open, and the interest of the citizens to participate has increased. However, it is felt difficult to dimension the information and participation resources to the needs of the particular planning cases. It is sometimes seen that participation takes too much time of the actual planning work.
  • Assessment of the planning impacts and the need of sufficient investigations is emphasised in the new Act. It is sometimes seen that these take too much time of the actual planning work. According to the planners a common problem is that the needs for investigations are brought up too late, especially by the state sectoral authorities.
  • It is generally seen that the ability to estimate the length and timetables of planning processes has decreased. This is partly due to the broadly written provisions of the new Act, and the so far non-established legal praxis of the new Act.
  • Despite that the total amount of plans that have been appealed against has not increased, it is felt that the deliberation of appeals in the administrative courts takes too much time. There is now discussion about whether the right to appeal further to the Supreme Administrative Court should be restricted.