Public participation in planning
Finland's Land Use and Building Act safeguards citizens' rights to participate in land use planning procedures and influence decisions related to building developments.
Creating dialogues between citizens and the authorities
Photo: Kristiina Rinkinen
Planning procedures in Finland allow plenty of scope for public participation, so as to encourage dialogues between planning officials and everyone affected by plans.
Public announcements are made whenever the preparation of a new plan begins, to enable interested parties to get involved in discussions about the objectives and impacts of plans and possible alternatives.
The extent and nature of public participation are defined according to the nature of each plan in specific participation and evaluation plans, which are publicised whenever announcements are made of the commencement of new planning processes. These participation plans also describe how the impacts of land use plans will be evaluated.
Participation open to everyone affected by plans
Participation in planning procedures is open to all parties with an interest in the plans, including landowners, local residents, and other people whose livelihoods or other interests will be significantly affected. This provision also encompasses other public authorities, enterprises or organisations whose activities may be affected, even if they are located in other municipalities.
Collaboration between the authorities at different levels
Meetings between officials of local and national authorities are organised regularly to discuss issues related to regional land use plans and local plans with wider implications. Such meetings aim to clarify and harmonise land use objectives at national, regional and local level.
Right of appeal
Plans are subject to wide rights of appeal. Objections may be submitted by local residents, organisations or the authorities. Appeals calling for alterations to local master plans or detailed plans approved by the municipal authorities must be submitted to the administrative courts.
Appeals against regional land use plans or joint local master plans drafted by more than one municipality should be directed to the Ministry of the Environment. Further appeals may be taken to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Hearings on planning permission for building
Planning permission for building developments is subject to hearings involving the owners and tenants of neighbouring properties. Neighbours must be duly notified of applications for planning permission and the timing of official surveys of sites to be developed.