Permits related to land use and building

Construction and other developments in Finland are controlled by the Land Use and Building Act. More specific controls may be defined in decrees. The National Building Code of Finland incorporates comprehensive technical standards and guidelines. Local regulations subordinate to these national laws are additionally defined in municipal building codes.

Construction and land use changes are controlled through official plans defined at various levels, including regional land use plans, local master plans and local detailed plans. Shorelines where no developments have yet been planned are generally protected from future construction developments, as stipulated in the Land Use and Building Act.

All projects involving construction need building permits or action permits. In some cases existing plans may need to be revised, or decisions may have to be made on applications for exceptional planning permission.

Deciding where new plans are needed

New plans need to be made where land use changes will entail the construction of new infrastructure such as roads, water supply or sewerage, or new arrangements for other areas. The wider environmental impacts of some construction developments may need to be formally assessed. The municipal authorities may also choose to designate specific areas that should be covered by new plans.

In such cases detailed requirements are often attached to building permits, and applications are subject to wider considerations than usual. Decisions on building permits for areas to be covered by new plans are made in two phases. Initially an assessment is made by the permit authority as to the existence of suitable preconditions for the development; and then a decision can be made on a specific building permit.

Exceptional planning permission

If a development is proposed that does not conform with current land use plans or other regulations or limitations defined under the Land Use and Building Act, exceptional planning permission should be granted before an application for a building permit may be considered. Exceptional planning permission may not be granted for developments that hinder future planning, the implementation of current plans, other designated land uses, or the conservation of natural or built environments.

Applications for exceptional planning permission are usually submitted to the municipal authorities. In some cases, however, such as areas not yet covered by local plans, decisions are made by regional environment centres.

Information about progress with such planning and permit procedures should be provided to the owners of neighbouring properties, and also displayed at the site concerned.

Decisions on applications for exceptional planning permission are sent to the applicants, the relevant authori-ties, and any other parties who may have asked to be informed. Applicants pay fees to cover official costs. Local authorities may also charge applicants a fee for arranging hearings for the owners of neighbouring properties, in cases where the applicant has not personally organised such a hearing.

Construction developments on shores

Shorelines where no developments have yet been planned are generally protected from future construction developments. This rule ensures that land use is planned systematically in areas where natural conditions are affected by the sea or inland waters, in areas considered as integral with shores in landscape terms, or in areas where land use needs are linked to the use of shores. Exceptional planning permission must be obtained for new developments, or for the conversion of waterside holiday homes to permanent residences, before building permits may be granted.

Building permits may be granted without any need for exceptional planning permission in some cases, however, such as minor reparations and expansions, or the construction of domestic facilities in the immediate vicinity of existing homes.
Published 2013-08-15 at 9:49, updated 2013-08-15 at 9:49