1.3 Objectives and scope

At least three kinds of sources constitute guiding directions for land use planning: national laws, white papers and transnational regulations and guidelines:

The most authoritative and settled guiding principles are stated in the Planning and Building Act, Section 2. Planning due to this Act is intended to facilitate coordination of national, regional and local activities. It should provide a basis for decisions concerning use and protection of resources and concerning development, and to safeguard aesthetic considerations. By means of planning, and through special requirements concerning individual building projects, the Act should promote situations where the use of land and the buildings thereon will be of greatest possible benefit to the individual and the society. Planning pursuant to this Act should especially emphasis the children's need for a good environment to grow up.

Regularly, white papers from the Government update the understanding of planning purposes, as central government policies are changing or the needs for updating occur according to shifting circumstances. Of particular interests are policies towards the physical environment. An overall aim is to integrate environmental concerns over tiers and across sectors of government. Sustainability in all kinds of man-initiated relationships should be observed: natural, environmental, social and economical as underlined by the Brundtland Commission and followed up by Agenda 21.

Traditionally, land use planning has been closely connected to national housing policies. After liberalization of state regulations and changes in the state housing finance in the early 1980s, state-housing policy has lost some of its overall relevance in planning. Except for certain targeted social groups, the balance of supply and demand has gained importance as the guiding housing principle in planning.

The Ministry of Environment is the leading authority for the production of planning guidance material. In general this material can be regarded as the outcome of attempts to transform the content of whitepapers into operative models for planning purposes. However, there are no formal requirements linking the production of guiding material to state planning policies, beside the obvious connection that whitepapers contain directions for prioritization of planning tasks and behavior. Through the latest years the scope of the guidance material has in main been concentrating on substantial planning issues as land-use intensification, urban (architectural) design, open space structure, etc., less on the use of different planning instruments.

The purpose of public activity planning is partly rooted in national polices for a welfare state and the legalizing of individual welfare rights, partly in the Municipal Law regulating the role of the municipal division as provider of public services. Equality in supply and accessibility are basic principles behind the public responsibility for the provision of public services financed by the taxpayers. Yet, the individual rights for consuming public services are varying between the different sectors of services, education, health, social security and culture. Planning within all these sectors as well as the coordination between them and towards spatial planning will have to observe the particular laws and regulations pertaining planning and the individual rights to services within these sectors.

Initially, regional development planning consisted of two components, one directed towards land use and the settlement structure, the other towards the economic conditions for development. The former is brought further in the county municipal planning to the extents land use and structural conditions for the development are incorporated. The latter is fairly abandoned, alternatively redefined as management of public financial support or organizing of other kinds of means for economic development within the county. Although the content of regional planning has changed substantially through a rather long period of time, the overall aim for this planning seems still to be balanced regional development, perhaps without the strong emphasis on industrial structure and employment opportunities as earlier.