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Planning and environmental issues


Which government authorities regulate planning and zoning for real estate development and use in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?

The municipalities are responsible for planning and zoning, and have exclusive power in this regard.

What are the eligibility, procedural and documentary requirements to obtain planning permission?

Planning permission is obtained from the municipality through a written application. This application generally includes maps and drawings of the premises and the construction, water and sewerage planning, as well as the appointment of a certified quality manager, but the information required may differ depending on the type of building. For certain types of construction, environmental issues (eg, the possible pollution of soil and water) may also need to be addressed. The application is reviewed by the local building committee, which assesses whether the intended construction is in line with the existing zoning plan (if applicable) and environmental viewpoints. The building committee shall also take into account the interest of the general public and neighbours.

Can planning decisions be appealed? If so, what is the appeal procedure?

Local building committee decisions regarding planning permission can be appealed to the County Administrative Board within three weeks. A County Administrative Board decision may be appealed to the Land and Environment Court, and ultimately to the Land and Environment Court of Appeal.

What are the consequences of failure to comply with planning decisions or regulations?

Failure to obtain or comply with required permits (ie, the unauthorised construction or use of a building) may result in liquidated damages or an injunction issued by the municipality. Unless planning permission is obtained retrospectively, a building that is unlawfully erected must be demolished.

What regime governs the protection and development of historic and cultural buildings?

Different types of protection for historical and cultural buildings and sites can be decided by the municipality, as well as the County Administrative Board and the government. 

Government expropriation

What regime applies to government expropriation of real estate?

Permission to expropriate must be granted by the government or the County Administrative Board (by delegation). The basic rules on expropriation are found in the Constitution, whereby the property of any citizen is protected against expropriation unless it is required to satisfy “urgent public interests". Expropriation is fairly unusual in Sweden. 

What is the required notice period for expropriation and how is compensation calculated?

No notice period is provided by law. The compensation is the calculated market value plus an additional compensation of 25%. If the expropriation affects any business conducted on the real estate before the expropriation, the subject being expropriated may be entitled to additional compensation.

Environmental issues

What environmental certifications are required for the development of real estate and how are they obtained?

Depending on the intended use of the premises, a number of different environmental permissions may be required. This particularly applies to environmentally hazardous activities under the Environmental Code. Permission is normally obtained from the County Administrative Board or the municipality. The use of voluntary environmental certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and GreenBuilding is common practice amongst real estate developers. 

What environmental disclosure obligations apply to real estate sales?

There are no general disclosure obligations in a sale of real estate. The environmental liability is tied to the polluter. Environmental due diligence is advised in transactions where it is deemed plausible that environmental damage or issues may be present. It is common practice to use environmental warranties in the sale contract.

What rules and procedures govern environmental clean-up of property? Which parties are responsible for clean-up and what is the extent of their liability?

Every party conducting or which has previously conducted activities that have caused pollution or contamination is responsible for the clean-up (the ‘polluter pays’ principle). If the polluter cannot be found or lacks the ability to perform or pay for necessary measures, the responsibility can be transferred to the existing or a previous land owner which acquired the property after December 31 1998 and was aware or ought to have been aware of the pollution at the time of acquisition. The extent of the liability may be reduced by the court, if deemed reasonable. 

Are there any regulations or incentive schemes in place to promote energy efficiency and emissions reductions in buildings?

As an EU member state, Sweden has undertaken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The national goal is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). In order to promote energy-efficient buildings, grants are available from the state. All commercial and residential buildings in Sweden must have a published report stating the total energy consumption of that building (usually displayed at the entrance of the building). 

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