1.2 Basic principles

In the Norwegian spatial planning system, elected bodies at central government tier are the supreme authorities within the state division of the system. In the municipal division, at regional and local territorial levels, the directly elected County Council on behalf of the County Municipality and Municipal Council in the (local) Municipality represent the highest planning authorities respectively. Planning authorities are unitarily mandated for planning within their specific areas of jurisdiction, which summarize to the main land area in continuity.

This planning system comprises three segments of public government: Physical planning comprising land use and structural planning connecting over all administrative levels, including the development control at local level. Public activity planning is mainly connected to local and regional levels while regional development planning is, as indicated, executed at meso-levels. However, the latter segment consists today of several rather different activities without any clear definition of planning content or firm requirements for the organizing of planning procedures. Hence, the content of regional development planning is to some extents varying from region to region, still under the responsibility of the County Municipality. Currently regional development planning is most common in regions covering sparsely populated, and from an economic development point of view, marginalized areas.

Physical planning and public activity planning are in principle integrated in the two overall plan categories for the County Municipality and the Municipality. Each of these overall plans is divided into two kinds of documents: the community part and the land use part, of which only the latter contain a map demarking the status relating to guidelines and zoning provisions. Land use planning as pure physical planning is normally found either on subordinate municipal planning levels or at central government tier in terms of policies including national provisions or contingently, in very extraordinary situations, zoning plans. In addition, budget planning at central state tier executed by the Government represents the initiating force for sectoral planning of infrastructure and facilities under the authority of the State.