StartsidaInspirationBloggThe Role of Digitised Master Plans in Reaching NSG

The Role of Digitised Master Plans in Reaching National Sustainability Goals (NSG)

In the face of pressing environmental and social challenges, Sweden’s 290 municipalities are working actively towards reaching social, economic and environmental sustainability following the global Sustainable Development Goals, and more specifically when it comes to city development, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: to create liveable, resilient, and resource-efficient cities.

In Sweden, municipalities outline their local environmental and social challenges, solutions, and sustainability goals in master plans. A master plan, also known as översiktsplan in Swedish, is an extensive planning document used to guide long-term development within a specific municipality or region. It outlines guidelines for land use and development, taking into account various aspects such as housing, commercial and industrial areas, infrastructure, transportation, environmental protection, sustainability, and recreation.

Sigtuna Municipality’s Master Plan

The master plan considers the municipality’s vision and goals for the future, as well as local conditions and needs. It is a critical tool for ensuring that development occurs sustainably and in a coordinated manner. The plan serves as a basis for decisions on detailed planning and building permits and as a guide for both municipal decision-makers and private actors in real estate development.

The master plan may also include information about development areas intended for new construction or other developments, defining how different areas should be used, for instance, for residences, businesses, infrastructure, or other types of land use. It is a strategic plan that impacts a variety of areas and is central to a municipality’s long-term development strategy.

Ekerö Municipality’s Master Plan

To be able to ensure making informed and responsible decisions that are solving today’s needs as well as reaching sustainability goals that will affect tomorrow’s generations, there must be a holistic view over master plans of neighbouring municipalities, regional and national.

Today, there is no accessible and visual overview of all Sweden’s municipalities’ master plans in one place. The only place to get hold of each municipality’s master plans in a unified way, is through the website of Boverket (Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) in a list form linking to all municipalities’ respective websites containing information on their master plans.

As every municipality has its own website and style of communication, finding the latest information about their master plans is a challenging and manual process that may take weeks or even months of effort.

Boverket linking to each municipality’s online source for master plans:

Left: Boverket, Right: Municipalities’ master plans information sources

After visiting the websites, you will have to navigate through multiple layers of web pages and PDF documents. Once you locate the actual masterplan in PDF format, you’ll still need to invest time in interpreting it, as each municipality presents and illustrates them differently:

‍Sweden follows the EU Construction Commission law, which requires municipalities to provide data on planned and ongoing development plans. However, the law does not specify the format or presentation of the data as there is no standard. As a result, the data is available but not easily accessible, leading to 290 municipalities presenting their master plans in 290 different ways.

Using Skellefteå municipality‘s master plan document as an example, it is still difficult to obtain a comprehensive understanding of their 2020’s detailed master plans because they are presented in fragmented sections:

Making data on master plans accessible and unified in one source will drive sustainable urban development in Sweden

Combify, a Swedish tech company specialising in property and land development data, recognises the significance of centralising and making master plan data accessible. We have taken on the task of assembling the pieces of this puzzle. Since there are no national or international standards for standardising master plan presentations, we’ve addressed this challenge by collecting, digitising, and gathering all master plans into one platform. This platform acts as a national overview, serving as Sweden’s masterplan and that will assist in reaching local, regional and national sustainable urban development.

Before & After with Combify

Unified data on master plans across all municipalities provides a powerful tool for holistic, sustainable, and efficient urban and regional planning in Sweden. This unified view of sustainability challenges, goals, and solutions benefits and empowers stakeholders at all levels to work together to create a more sustainable future for the country.

Benefits for municipalities

  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Better resource allocation and infrastructure planning at a national level. It helps in identifying areas with high development potential and those that need more investment. For example, municipalities with excess housing capacity can collaborate with those experiencing population growth to optimise infrastructure development and reduce resource consumption both environmental but also human and financial resources spent in the researching and planning phases.
  • Empowering smaller municipalities: smaller municipalities can leverage the knowledge and expertise embedded in the master plans of larger municipalities, gaining valuable insights into sustainable development practices and overcoming resource limitations.

Benefits for Property Developers

  • Reduced risk and uncertainty: A comprehensive overview of municipality’s long-term development will help developers to identify suitable sites for projects, assess the feasibility of proposed developments, minimise the risk of costly delays or setbacks, and move budgets from costs of human resources spent on researching and gathering information, to actual planning or building.

In conclusion, the role of digitised master plans in reaching national urban sustainability goals is undeniably crucial. By centralising and making this vital data accessible, it paves the way for more sustainable and resilient cities in Sweden. This effort benefits municipalities, property developers, and all stakeholders involved.

For municipalities, it means they can plan better and use their resources wisely. Even smaller municipalities can learn from bigger ones and make better decisions when it comes to attending to today’s needs and preparing for the future ones. And for property developers, it means less risk and uncertainty. They can find the right places for their projects early on in the process and save both time and money.

Combify AB ‘s work to put all this information in one place is not only good for our cities but also for everyone involved. It makes things easier to understand and helps us all shape cities for a better tomorrow.

Since there are several other important data layers that need to be digitised and made accessible for stakeholders within land and property developments, we have chosen to focus on master plans in this article. For the next article, we will explore the role of digital detailed plans, also known as “detaljplaner”,  in achieving local and national sustainability goals. Until next time! 👋

Article by:

Rim Alexandra Halfya & Ahmad Daoud

Shaping the Future of Land Development Through Technology

Alaa Alshawa
Alaa Alshawa

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