Principles of spatial planning policy

Aerial photo of a residential development
© Sandstein / Wikipedia

Switzerland's landscapes are under threat. The demand for living and commercial space, as well as for transport infrastructure, is increasing as a result of a growing and increasingly mobile population, combined with the demand for land for economic activity. The settlement area required per person continues to increase. Every second, around a square metre of agricultural land is lost, and this means that spatial development in Switzerland is not as sustainable as called for in the Federal Constitution.

The federal government intends for the revision of the Federal Spatial Planning Act to counteract this trend. The new legislation should slow the loss of undeveloped land, reduce the size of excessively large building zones and encourage more effective use of land reserves. This will ensure that settlements remain compact, thus protecting the landscape and enhancing Switzerland's attractiveness as a place to live and work.

Second partial revision of the Spatial Planning Act

In September 2023, Parliament approved the Federal Council's proposal to make selected changes and clarifications on construction outside of building zones.

Construction outside of building zones

The separation of building zones and non-building zones is one of the fundamental principles of spatial planning in Switzerland. This keeps the price of agricultural land low, which in turn makes it easier for agriculture to cover its costs. Of course, this separation also makes a significant contribution to maintaining an attractive landscape that is conducive to recreational activities.

Swiss National Soil Strategy

At its meeting on 8 May 2020, the Federal Council adopted the Swiss National Soil Strategy and a package of measures to sustainably safeguard soil as a resource. Measures included the revised sectoral plan for crop rotation areas, the soil competence centre and a concept for the nationwide collection of soil information.

Spatial Concept for Switzerland

The Spatial Concept for Switzerland, drawn up by the federal government, cantons, cities and communes, provides the orientation and action framework for the federal government's spatial development policy.


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