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22 February 2019
Unrestrained urban sprawl is having a major impact on Switzerland's natural environment and destroying its agricultural land.
On 10 February 2019 a 63% majority of Swiss voters rejected an initiative that aimed to stop urban sprawl by freezing the overall size of building zones and strictly limiting exceptions that allow building activities to take place outside building zones. While supporters of the initiative considered the current legal regime to be insufficient, opponents argued that the initiative was:
The initiative had sought to preserve the Swiss landscape and improve citizens' quality of life. It had also claimed to compensate for certain omissions in earlier amendments to the Federal Act on Spatial Planning (SR 700) and provide for economical soil management.
The initiative proposed the following amendments to the Federal Constitution:
As a result of the vote, the current legal regime will not be changed. However, a previous revision of the Federal Act on Spatial Planning entered into force in 2014 and pursued similar goals as the rejected initiative.
In particular, the current law:
Moreover, in 2018 the federal government proposed further substantial amendments to the law concerning buildings outside building zones. These proposals are currently before Parliament.
The latest initiative has addressed an important topic. In a small country such as Switzerland, which has vast areas of forests and mountains that are unavailable for building use, urban sprawl and the loss of agricultural land are serious threats.
Nevertheless, the current legal regime and plans for its redevelopment are adequate responses to the threat of urban sprawl. Additional amendments in this regard are expected in the near future.
For further information on this topic please contact Michael Lips or Larissa Rickenbacher at Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd by telephone (+41 44 217 91 11) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law Ltd website can be accessed at www.pestalozzilaw.com.
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