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24 November 2017
This update summarises the latest developments in spatial planning in Switzerland. In particular, it highlights the potential effects of certain planned amendments on legislation, namely the second part of the Spatial Planning Act(1) revision and the initiative to stop uncontrolled urban sprawl.(2)
From a spatial planning perspective, more and more Swiss municipalities are reaching their size limit. Because the enlargement of building zones is not allowed, the economical use of land is a key element of spatial planning.
The first part of the Spatial Planning Act revision entered into force in May 2014 and covered the reduction of excessive building zones and the inward development of building zones by increased density of use and concentrated construction. The second part of the revision focuses on construction activities outside building zones.
As a general rule and with the exception of certain strictly regulated cases, construction activities outside building zones are not allowed. The proposed second part of the revision will give the cantons more flexibility with regard to construction activities outside building zones so that they can consider their individual needs more appropriately. For this purpose, the federal government suggests introducing the following key elements:
Even though the new planning and compensation approach provides the cantons with more discretion, they must respect the core principle of separating building zones from non-building zones.
The consultation period for the second part of the revision terminated on August 31 2017. The government's dispatch to Parliament for the second revision is expected in 2018.
In October 2016 an initiative to stop uncontrolled urban sprawl was submitted to the government. The initiative proposes an amendment to the Federal Constitution that obliges the federation, cantons and communities to freeze the present size of building zones for an indefinite period and ensure that the building zones will grow no further.
The initiative pursues the following goals:
The government has acknowledged that the initiative addresses important questions regarding spatial planning. Nevertheless, it does not support the initiative and believes that:
The government's dispatch to Parliament proposes to reject the initiative without submitting a direct or indirect counterproposal. Once Parliament has issued its recommendation, a popular vote will decide whether the initiative or Parliament's counterproposal (should there be one) will be implemented.
For further information on this topic please contact Michael Lips or Andrea Rohrer at Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law by telephone (+41 44 217 91 11) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at www.pestalozzilaw.com.
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