Sweden belongs to the Scandinavian family, accordi ng to New man and Thor (1996, pp. 27-76). This family differs significantly from the British family, but less so from the Napoleonic and Germanic families. The influence of the Germanic family is particularly obvious in the system, with its emphasis on written law. Yet the Scandinavian legal system has adopted its own style, avoiding the precision and codification of the German system. A complete legal code has never been formulated; the Scandinavian legal system seems to be more pragmatic. Administratively speaking, the Scandinavian family is something of a hybrid. As with the Napoleonic family, there is a strong relationship between national and regional governments. The central government has agencies operating at a regional level, trying to implement national spatial policy; this may be regarded as a strong tendency towards centralization. At the same time, local governments are getting organized at a larger scale for reasons of efficiency. The dual development of centralization versus decentralization is prominent within the Swedish system.
In contrast to the Swiss planning system (Chapter 8), the regional level of planning is very weak in Sweden. The emphasis in the new legislation for planning is clearly at the level of the 286 municipalities (1992). The Swedish system has thus been called a 'planning monopoly' (Newman and Thornley, 1996, p. 66). The central government can intervene in municipal plans only if manifest national interests are involved, or if there is some danger to health or safety. The Building Act of 1987 requires all municipalities to make a comprehensive plan (oversikts-plan) for the whole territory. This plan has also to incorporate the national interests. The most important planning instrument, however, is the detailed plan (detaljplan), which is legally binding. It is prepared when change is expected or developments are due. Negotiation and consultation take place with the developer during the formulation of the plan. Finally, it has to be ratified by the municipal council. Detailed plans can vary in form but must always specify intended land use, public space, building lots, and implementation period. Interested parties as well as public bodies must be consulted. Appeal can be made to the county board and, if unsuccessful, to the national government. Public control is also exercised through the media. According to Swedish law all documents kept by the national or the municipal governments are public (ISOCARP, 1992, pp. 204-218). Based upon the detailed plan, the developer can apply for a planning permit, which is automatically granted if the proposed development conforms to the plan.
In order to resolve problems in areas with several landowners, the new Act for Joint Development provides new planning instruments to assist private developers and the municipality, whenever the latter does not have an economic stake in the development.
Financing of urban development operates primarily through developers and other private parties, although it is not uncommon for local governments to participate in spatial projects. Compared with other municipalities in Europe, the Swedish municipalities are more powerful and independent.
Was this article helpful?