Finland amends law affecting the location of large specialty retail stores

Large furniture, car and hardware stores now come under the same planning regulations as large grocery stores.

The Finnish parliament has passed an amendment to the Land Use and Building Act which brings the specialty goods retail premises that require large amounts of space, such as furniture, car and hardware stores, under the legal guidelines on large retail units. Regional retail premises of more than 2000 square metres will have to be indicated in the Provincial Plan of the area concerned. Previously, Finnish municipalities could decide freely where to locate large specialty goods stores.

The change in the law means that large specialty stores now come under the same regulations as large grocery stores. The amendment was motivated by fears about the reduction of services in residential areas and a commitment to lessen competition between municipalities over major the location of major retail centres. In the future large specialty stores will have to be located near city centres or in locations designated by the Provincial Plan that has been approved by the Ministry of the Environment. The amendment is set to become law starting from April 2011.

A Provincial Plan in Finland shows the guidelines and principles of land use and community structure in a region. It is also used to reserve areas, for example for regional and national traffic solutions, and to indicate areas appropriate for living and recreation. The Provincial Plan serves as a guide for master plans and the plans drawn up by municipalities.

Sources: Helsingin Sanomat, Federation of Finnish Commerce