Land-use planning as a driver for sustainable building and housing

Atte | Jan. 18, 2024, 9:33 a.m.

In this research we studied the importance of different stakeholders and various planning means in municipalities land-use planning. We analyzed the relationship between these important planning elements with discovered municipalities' ecological sustainability objectives. Additionally, the study compares these studied elements between municipalities classified as urban and others.

Land-use planning in Finland

The foundations for sustainable building and housing largely come from municipalities' authorities (civil servants and local politicians) who are responsible for land-use planning. Successful solutions made in planning tables can promote well-being, regional economy and sustainable development in the built environment. 

The Finnish statutory land-use planning system is based on three hierarchies: national government guidelines, regional plans, and municipal level plans (local master plan and local detailed plan). As the most detailed plan, a local detailed plan directs land use and building according to requirements set by local conditions and landscape, good building practices, and other agreed objectives set by municipalities. Eventually, actual land use is prepared and approved by the local authorities and political decision makers.

In addition to statutory planning, various means of informal land-use planning have emerged in Finland as well as in several other countries. Those are called informal because they are located outside of statutory planning system. Examples of informal planning means include different strategic development schemes and public-private partnerships (PPP). Informal land-use planning has been argued to increase strategic preparedness against major challenges such as increasing global competition between regions, environment and ecological issues and social segregation. 

Informal planning connected with municipalities' sustainability objectives and stakeholder collaboration - right graph in the graphical abstract.

In our research, we discovered that informal planning means have strong connections with municipalities' sustainability objectives in land-use planning. Additionally, the results suggest that informal means are more strongly connected to collaboration with regional stakeholders than statutory planning means, especially with research organizations. 

Furthermore, we did not find similar evidence on the relationship between statutory planning means with neither sustainability objectives or stakeholder collaboration. 

Differences between urban and other municipalities - middle in the graphical abstract.

Based on the results, informal planning means were emphasized in urban municipalities compared with other municipalities. This may partly be explained by the forces underlying the urbanization megatrend and the greater resources (financial and human) in urban municipalities to tackle modern problems. However as expected, the statutory planning means were considered equally important in both municipality types. 

Regarding stakeholder collaboration, the results suggest that knowledge creators were considered more important in urban municipalities. On the other hand, stakeholders classified as knowledge users were considered equally important in both municipalities. 

We also discovered differences in municipalities' sustainability objectives in land-use planning: where urban municipalities emphasized sustainable technological and material solutions, ecosystem services were considered more important in other municipalities. 


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