Historical archive

T-1/95 E Children and Planning

Historical archive

Published under: Brundtland's 3rd Government

Publisher Miljøverndepartementet

With National Policy Guidelines to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process

Circular T-1/95 E

Content

Foreword

1. The Planning and Building Act, Section 9-1: requirement that the municipal council appoint the head of one of the municipal services or another official to have special responsibility for safeguarding the interests of children and young people in the planning process 

2. National Policy Guidelines to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process

3. Memorandum from the Ministry of the Environment distributed to municipalities, county municipalities and county governors on 29 August 1989

Foreword

Circular T-1/95 E replaces Circular T-2/92 and incorporate, among other things, amendments to the Planning and Building Act of 1 January 1994. Circular T-1/95 E includes a new Item 1 relating to Section 9-1 of the Planning and Building Act: requirement that the municipal council appoint the head of one of the municipal services or another official to have special responsibility for safeguarding the interests of children and young people in the planning process. No other amendments are made to the guidelines themselves (Item 2) or to the memorandum from the Ministry of the Environment to municipalities, county municipalities and county governors, dated 29 August 1989 (Item 3).

The environment in which children and young people grow up is one of the Government’s priority areas. The National Policy Guidelines are an important instrument for implementing reforms in this area, and the Government will therefore ascribe high priority to this effort.

1. The Planning and Building Act, Section 9-1: requirement that the municipal council appoint the head of one of the municipal services or another official to have special responsibility for safeguarding the interests of children and young people in the planning process

Introduction

Two important reforms relating to the interests of children and young people in national planning were implemented in 1989. The National Policy Guidelines (NPG) to safeguard the interests of children and young people in the planning process were issued by Order in Council on 1 September 1989. A number of amendments to the Planning and Building Act were adopted, effective from 1 July 1989. Section 2, which defines the purpose of the Act, included the additional sentence: “When carrying out the planning pursuant to this Act, special emphasis shall be placed on securing children a good environment in which to grow up”, and a provision was added which stated that the municipal council has an obligation to appoint the head of one of the municipal services or another official to safeguard the interests of children and young people. When the Planning and Building Act was adapted to the new Local Government Act, which entered into force on 1 January 1994, the authorisation for the Children’s Representative was amended and moved to Section 9-1. The legal text was expanded to include participation in the planning process: “The Municipal Council shall appoint the head of one of the municipal services or another official who shall have special responsibility for safeguarding children’s interests when the Standing Committee, pursuant to this section, prepares and discusses planning proposals”. In the text of the Act, the term “children” means children and young people up to the age of eighteen.

In Circular H-52/93, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of the Environment pointed out that the Children’s Representative system is part of Norway’s arrangements to meet its commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 8 January 1991.

This part of the circular replaces Items 2 and 3 in Circular T-2/92 and is intended to further clarify the amendments of 1 January 1994 and certain matters that are important for implementation of the scheme to have a representative for children and young people, known as a Children’s Representative (CR), on the Standing Committee for Planning Issues.

The following matters are addressed:

  1. Who should be appointed to safeguard the interests of children and young people
  2. Appointment
  3. Obligations and rights
  4. Organisation and training for the Children’s Representative
  5. Notification
  6. Cooperation between ministries

1. Who should be appointed to safeguard the interests of children and young people

Circular T-5/89 of 9 June 1989 pointed out that the person appointed should have special expertise relating to children. The Ministry takes the view that there shall be emphasis on the person appointed having special responsibility for the interests of children and young people. The reason for the amendments to Section 9-1 (previously Section 10-2) was that the interests of children and young people were not sufficiently safeguarded. The Children’s Representative shall be a supplement to and strengthen the professional expertise of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues in order to ensure that there is greater focus on the interests of children and young people. The Ministry therefore assumes that it will not be in accordance with the intentions of the Act to appoint a person who has other responsibilities to perform for the Standing Committee for Planning Issues. This particularly applies to persons who have ordinary coordinating responsibility in the planning process, such as the Chief Municipal Planning Officer, the Chief Municipal Building Control Officer, the Environment Protection Officer or the person responsible for the municipal master plan.

The Ministry regards it as natural for the municipality, in its review of relevant persons with special expertise relating to children, to seek a chief municipal officer, project coordinator or other official who has been involved in planning for children and young people, local environmental planning or other trans-sectoral activities associated with planning the physical environment for children and young people.

The memorandum on the National Policy Guidelines (NPG) (Item 3 in the Circular) states that the municipality must consider the selection of the Children’s Representative in conjunction with the selection of the department that is to be responsible for following up the guidelines.

The text of the Act states explicitly that the representative who is appointed may not be a political member of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues. Apart from this, the text provides no further rules concerning who may be appointed.

2. Appointment

The Children’s Representative (CR) is appointed by the Municipal Council. The choice of CR shall be discussed at the beginning of each new municipal council period. Although the CR shall be from the municipal administration, the municipal council shall be given the opportunity to confirm or change the choice of CR.

The Ministry recommends municipalities to appoint a Deputy Representative in order to avoid situations in which there is no representative present. In unfortunate cases, administrative errors may occur if the municipality does not meet the legal requirement. It will be unfortunate for municipality, when dealing with objections to the local development plan or building development plan, if consideration for and the consequences for children and young people have not been sufficiently elucidated as the result of a lack of follow-up by, or the absence of the Children’s Representative.

The municipality must focus on several factors when appointing or re-appointing a CR. The reform has now been functioning for almost six years. An evaluation carried out by the Ministry shows that there are significant differences between municipalities’ arrangements for meeting the legal requirement. In connection with the appointment or re-appointment of the CR at the end of 1995/beginning of 1996, the Ministry expects the municipality to review the administrative location of and arrangements for the CR.

The Children’s Representative’s possibilities for making an active contribution at an early stage of the planning process must be an important reason for the choice. Some municipalities have chosen to appoint a CR whose workplace is located at a considerable (geographical) distance from the planning administration. Solutions of this type have proved to be unfortunate. The Ministry wishes to point out that the new emphasis in the Act on participation in the planning process is dependent upon the CR being easily able to present his or her views concerning the considerations that should be taken into account.

It is also natural to emphasise the importance of continuity in work on behalf of children and young people so that, when re-appointing a CR, the municipality is able to utilise the expertise built up by the Children’s Representative and/or the department responsible for the NPG.

3. Obligations and rights

The appointed representative is obliged to attend and has the right to speak and present proposals at meetings of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues. However, the Standing Committee is free to decide whether such proposals are to be formally processed. The Children’s Representative has the right to have footnotes appended to the minutes of meetings of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues but, as a municipal appointee, he or she does not have the right to object to decisions.

The purpose of the NPG is to focus on and strengthen the interests of children and young people in all planning and processing of building plans pursuant to the Planning and Building Act. The CR shall be given access to and have the right to speak to those parts of the planning and administrative process that are the responsibility of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues. The intention is primarily to ensure that consideration for children and young people is included in the planning process at an early stage, and thereby to be able to give higher priority to these considerations than is the case today.

The amendment of 1 January 1994 means that the Children’s Representative must also be included in the planning process itself. In other words, the special expertise relating to children which the Children’s Representative is expected to possess shall be utilised. The Ministry is aware that many municipalities already follow this practice today.

The NPG apply to the processing of cases and decisions pursuant to the Planning and Building Act. This means that the municipality must also involve the department responsible for following up the NPG in work on the municipal master plan, whether it concerns the land use plan, the programme of action or the budget. Following the amendments to the Planning and Building Act, which entered into force on 1 January 1994, the municipality is free to organise the way in which it processes building cases. Many municipalities have chosen to continue to have a traditional Building Council, which handles building and planning cases, while many municipalities have chosen to ascribe the processing of plans to the Municipal Executive Committee. Pursuant to the Act, the Children’s Representative is linked to the Standing Committee for Planning Issues.

However, the Ministry wishes to emphasise that the NPG apply to the processing of both planning and building cases. The municipality must therefore ensure that the considerations that are to be taken into account pursuant to the NPG are focused on, that they are responsibly handled during the preparation of the case, and that the publicly-elected body that processes such cases is given insight into and the opportunity to study the problems/choices that affect the interests of children and young people.

4. Organisation and training for the Children’s Representative

The Ministry has previously pointed out in Circular T-745 that the NPG apply to all areas of municipal activity authorised by the Planning and Building Act. This means that the responsible department and the Children’s Representative must be given the possibility to cooperate closely within the department and with other departments responsible for municipal planning. The Municipal Council must focus on how best to ensure that the CR is enabled to deal with and understand the issues prepared at the behest of the Standing Committee for Planning Issues.

Experience has shown that it is appropriate to establish a working group or reference group, comprising representatives of the departments that are most important for the living conditions of children to support the Children’s Representative. In municipalities that have established a Children’s Department (Oppvekstetat), it is natural for responsibility for the NPG to be located in, and for the CR to be recruited from this department. The Ministry takes the view that it is appropriate for the Municipal Council to adopt instructions for the Children’s Representative. The municipality should ensure that an annual report is submitted on the work of the Children’s Representative. New reforms such as this require testing in order to achieve results that are in accordance with the intention of the Storting and the Government to give priority to the interests of children and young people.

A “Fact File for Children’s Representatives” was prepared in connection with the Ministry of the Environment’s project “Children and Planning”. This file was distributed to Children’s Representatives in all the municipalities in the country. The fact file is intended to be an aid for Children’s Representatives. It is to be passed on from one CR to the next and is not to be regarded as “personal property”. The file has an updatable divider system. The Ministry of the Environment intends to undertake a review of the content and experience of using the file and make any necessary improvements.

Otherwise, we wish to point out that the county level plays an important role in the implementation of the CR reform. The County Governor is responsible for ensuring that the Children’s Representative scheme is implemented in municipalities. The County Governor and the county municipalities may themselves organise guidance and make the arrangements they find most appropriate, provided that they are well coordinated with the planning guidance function of the county municipality.

5. Notification

The Ministry requests municipalities to notify the County Governor, with a copy to the county municipality, of any changes as regards the person who is appointed to be Children’s Representative with special responsibility for safeguarding the interests of children and young people on the Standing Committee for Planning Issues.

6. Cooperation between ministries

Pursuant to Item 3a of the NPG, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for general follow-up, development and guidance relating to the NPG. This responsibility shall be exercised in close cooperation with other relevant ministries. The Ministry of the Environment is also responsible for following up Section 9-1 of the Planning and Building Act. In its reports to the UN Commission on Children, the Government has made it clear that more attention will be paid to following up the reforms. In future, the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs will have the main responsibility for formulating the content of guidance relating to children in connection with the NPG and the CR.

2. National Policy Guidelines to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process

1. National objectives for the environment in which children and young people grow up

Important national objectives are to :

a. Ensure that children and young people grow up in an environment where they are safe from physical and mental harm, and which has physical, social and cultural qualities that are at all times in accordance with existing knowledge of the needs of children and young people.
b. Meet the public responsibility for ensuring that children and young people are given services and opportunities that together provide challenges and a meaningful childhood for all individuals, regardless of where they live or their social or cultural background.

2. The purpose of the National Policy Guidelines (NPG) to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process

The purpose of the National Policy Guidelines is to:

a. Focus on and strengthen the interests of children and young people in all planning and processing of building cases pursuant to the Planning and Building Act.
b. Give municipalities an improved basis for integrating and safeguarding the interests of children and young people in their day-to-day planning and processing of building cases.
c. Provide a basis for the consideration of cases where the interests of children and young people come into conflict with other considerations/interests.

3. Responsibility

Responsibility for meeting the intentions and requirements of these guidelines is ascribed to the following bodies:

a. The Ministry of the Environment has the overall responsibility for general follow-up, development and guidance relating to these guidelines. Such responsibility shall be exercised in close cooperation with other relevant ministries.
b. The county municipalities shall, in consultation with the County Governor, as far as possible provide guidance and give municipalities the necessary support to safeguard the interests of children and young people in municipal planning pursuant to Items 4 and 5 of these Guidelines.
c. The county municipality and the County Governor shall, when this is necessary in order to fulfil the purpose of Item 5, issue statements on and, if necessary, submit objections to the municipal master plan and municipal development plan/building development plan. The County Governor shall, in exercising his responsibilities pursuant to the Planning and Building Act, ensure that the process requirements under Item 4 are met.
Municipalities shall ensure that Items 4 and 5 of the Guidelines are conformed to and clarify where in the municipality responsibility for following up the Guidelines is to rest.

4. Requirements regarding the municipal planning process

The municipality shall:

a. Consider the consequences for children and young people in the processing of planning and building cases pursuant to the Planning and Building Act.
b. Undertake an overall evaluation of the environment in which children and young people grow up in order to incorporate objectives and measures into work on the municipal master plan.
c. Adopt guidelines, rules or by-laws relating to the size and quality of areas and installations of importance to children and young people, which shall be secured in plans that affect children and young people.
d. Organise the planning process in such a way that views relating to children as an affected party are heard, and that various groups of children and young people are given the opportunity to participate themselves.

5. Requirements regarding physical design

Particular attention shall be paid to the following:

a. Areas and facilities that are to be used by children and young people shall be secured against pollution, noise, traffic hazards and other health hazards.
b. In the local environment there shall be areas where children can express themselves and create their own play environment. This means, among other things, that the sites: 

  • are large enough and suitable for play and recreation 
  • provide possibilities for different types of play in different seasons
  • can be used by different age-groups and provide opportunities for interaction between children, adolescents and adults.


c. Municipalities shall earmark sufficient, large enough and suitable sites for day-care centres.
d. When re-allocating areas which have been earmarked in plans as common areas or free areas that in use or suitable for play, an equally good replacement must be provided. A replacement shall also be provided when developing or re-allocating unzoned areas which children use as play areas, or if the re-allocation of an area suitable for play leads to the considerations named in Item b above, to meet present or future needs, not being met.

6. Amendments to the guidelines

The Ministry may make minor amendments to these guidelines.

3. Memorandum from the Ministry of the Environment distributed to municipalities, county municipalities and county governors on 29 August 1989

Reasons for the individual items in the National Policy Guidelines to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process.

1. Reasons and premises relating to Item 1

Item 1 is based on the fact that the National Policy Guidelines are intended to provide national objectives or signals from the Government, cf. the Planning and Building Act, Section 17-1, first sentence. The text is as follows:

“The King may define general objectives and frameworks and issue guidelines for physical, economic and social development in counties and municipalities that shall form the basis for planning pursuant to this Act.”

The purpose of the National Policy Guidelines is to clarify national or regional interests in areas where this is necessary in order to ensure that such interests are safeguarded in municipal and county planning.

The guidelines are intended to give the Government’s views on which issues shall have particular emphasis, or on how situations of conflict shall be considered.

Physical, economic and social development of significance for children and young people is not only determined through activities pursuant to the Planning and Building Act (PBA). Other legislation and other activities are equally important. The various activities and instruments must be viewed in conjunction with each other.

Item 1 therefore provides overall targets for the environment in which children and young people grow up which apply generally, but which also provide a framework for the area covered by the National Policy Guidelines, i.e. planning and development pursuant to the PBA.

This item parallels the initial sentences in the section of the Working Environment Act that defines its purpose. In other words, society has a similar environmental provision for the adult population. The parallel with the Working Environment Act also illustrates that good objectives are primarily achieved through practical measures that supplement legislation.

The content is in accordance with national objectives, as previously expressed in Reports to the Storting and official reports on the environment in which children and young people grow up. The debates on these reports in the Norwegian parliament have shown that there is general agreement on the objectives set out in Item 1. It is also generally accepted that it is a public responsibility to ensure that children and young people grow up in a good environment, cf. Item 1b. This applies, not least, to groups with various types of disability. It also means that municipalities must acquire insight into the interests of immigrant children and young people.

Consequently, the present challenge is not to formulate new objectives but to determine how they are to be achieved in practice in the ongoing activities of the state, counties and municipalities. The expression “children and young people” applies to the 0-18 age-group (minors). Within this group, needs and abilities will differ greatly and measures to secure the environment in which children and young people grow up must be considered from the point of view of the needs of children and young people of different ages. The younger the children, the more dependent they are on adults to safeguard their interests.

2. Reasons and premises relating to Item 2

Item 2 limits the scope of the guidelines to activities pursuant to the PBA and at the same time emphasises that this is a central instrument for achieving the objectives named in Item 1. Planning and development pursuant to the PBA have significant consequences for the quality of the environment in which children and young people grow up. The many cases of conflict submitted to the Ombudsman for Children relating to children and planning show that knowledge of the needs of children and young people is not sufficiently taken into account in our management of the nation’s resources when planning pursuant to the PBA. It is, therefore, especially important to provide signals concerning measures which, based on the needs of different groups, may strengthen the interests of children and young people in planning and development pursuant to the PBA.

This view was clearly expressed in the Government’s Action Plan for Children and Young People in 1988 and is further supported by the amendment to the section which defines the purpose of the PBA (Section 2). This means that special arrangements must be made to ensure that children grow up in a good environment in connection with planning pursuant to the Act.

Item 2a specifies that the guidelines apply to all planning and development pursuant to the PBA. However, the main emphasis is defined in the practical guidelines for municipal planning in Items 4 and 5. At the same time, it is clear that county plans must also take the intentions of the guidelines into account.

Item 2b emphasises that the intention of the guidelines is to support municipalities in their efforts on behalf of children and young people. The guidelines do not take from municipalities their responsibility and independence in the planning process, but are intended to give them a basis for developing a planning process which ensures that consideration for children and young people is focused on and taken more into account. This also parallels the Working Environment Act (Section on purpose, third sentence), where the Act is described as an aid to individual activity.

Item 2c specifies that the National Policy Guidelines will have more weight than advice and guidelines from the Ministries when cases of conflict are considered. Deviations shall provide grounds for raising objections to municipal land use plans, so that they cannot be automatically approved by the authority that produces them.

The guidelines will provide the basis for consideration of cases of conflict that are submitted to the Ministry pursuant to the Planning and Building Act, Section 20-5, third sentence and Section 27-2 no. 2.

Objections will usually concern physical matters. In Item 4, however, the guidelines also cover process requirements. They do not provide guidance relating to the practical content of plans, but are intended to ensure focus on the interests of children and young people during the process. They are, therefore, just as important for satisfactory development of municipal planning procedures as the requirements relating to content. If the process requirements under Item 4 are not conformed to, this may give grounds for a claim of erroneous administrative procedure in connection with cases relating to land use plans.

The right to object underlines the importance of providing guidance on matters relating to children and planning at an early stage of the process. The intention is to encourage planning methods that meet the process and quality requirements of the guidelines so that it will not be necessary to raise objections.

One important intention of the guidelines is to strengthen and increase the influence of spokespersons for children and young people in municipalities. This is not explicitly stated in Item 2. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that, on the basis of the guidelines, local organisations, parent groups, professionals in the municipal administration, politicians, etc. who are concerned about children and young people will be in stronger position when they present demands on behalf of children. Today, one of the problems is that spokespersons for children and young people have nothing with which to counter arguments from other interests, which have stronger legislation, guidelines or organisations to back them up.

The guidelines apply to processing within the scope of the Planning and Building Act and do not give individuals rights over and above those consequent upon the provisions of the Planning and Building Act.

3. Reasons and premises for Item 3.

The general responsibility for the processing of planning and building cases pursuant to the PBA is laid down in the Act. Item 3 is a further definition of the general rules in relation to the National Policy Guidelines and determines who is to have particular responsibility for the tasks consequent upon these guidelines.

One of the major problems in connection with safeguarding the interests of children and young people in the planning process is pulverisation of responsibility. Cases may be passed from one body to the next and the people who wish to raise issues do not know whom to apply to, etc. This is regarded as being so important that there is a separate item clarifying who is responsible for following up the National Policy Guidelines.

The Item relating to responsibility does not require the establishment of new bodies but underlines the need for cooperation between different sectors and levels. It is particularly important to achieve cooperation between bodies with planning expertise and bodies with expertise relating to the needs and situation of children and young people.

At the national level, Item 3a requires cooperation between the Ministry of the Environment, as the ministry responsible for planning, and the ministries responsible for children and young people, such as the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and other planning ministries, such as the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and the Ministry of Transport and Communications. This is important in order to ensure that national agencies at county level also receive guidance as to how they may contribute towards safeguarding the interests of children and young people in the planning process.

At county level, Item 3b requires close cooperation between the county municipality as the planning body and the County Governor, through both the Family and Social Welfare Department and the Environment Protection Department. Other bodies may also be relevant partners in cooperation, including the Director of Education, the County Medical Officer, the County Cultural Affairs Department, the Consultant for Children and Young People and the Chief County Roads Officer.

It is also a clear prerequisite that municipal planning for children and young people must be based on trans-sectoral cooperation. This is not explicitly stated in Item 3c, which concerns municipalities’ responsibility pursuant to the guidelines. The trans-sectoral element is partly ensured by placing the main responsibility for municipal planning with the Municipal Council and the head of the municipal administration (cf. PBA Sections 9-1 and 9-2), and the requirement for an overall evaluation of the environment in which children and young people grow up, cf. Item 4b.

The Municipal Council and the head of the municipal administration have the primary and overall responsibility for the environment in which children and young people grow up and thereby for tasks pursuant to the guidelines.

Item 3c nevertheless states that the municipality shall clarify who is to have special responsibility for following up the guidelines. This is important with respect to enquiries from local groups, etc. The appointed agency may be one of the many committees working on matters relating to children and young people (education, social welfare, cultural affairs, technical), or a separate one if the municipality finds this appropriate. The municipality is free to decide which system is most appropriate for local conditions.

It will be natural for the head of the department which is appointed to be especially responsible for the guidelines to also attend meetings of the Building Council, as laid down in the Planning and Building Act, Section 10-2.

Item 3b also addresses the right to raise objections. In general, both the county municipality and the relevant national authority have the right to object to plans pursuant to the PBA, sections 20-5, 27-2 and 28-2. The county municipality has been given a particular responsibility for following up the National Policy Guidelines on the basis of its responsibility to provide planning guidance for municipalities. The formulation “consultation with the County Governor” seeks to ensure that knowledge of the needs and situation of children and young people is included in the considerations. This particularly refers to the County Governor’s Family and Social Welfare Department and Environment Protection Department.

The county municipality may issue statements on municipal plans. The guidelines emphasise that the professional responsibility of the county municipality in such cases includes the interests of children and young people and that the right of the county municipality to object is also linked to these interests. This does not entail the introduction of a new administrative routine but emphasises that the guidelines mean that the perspective of children and young people must also be included in the planning considerations that already take place.

Oslo is in a special situation, since it is both a county and a municipality. The County Governor of Oslo and Akershus has a special consultant for children and young people and an Environment Protection Department which covers important aspects of the environment in which children and young people grow up. In this case, the County Governor will, therefore, have a special responsibility for following up plans and raising objections to plans in Oslo that are not in accordance with the guidelines. Otherwise, as usual, county governors may raise objections on the basis of their professional responsibility.

If the requirements for the planning process under Item 4 are not conformed to, the County Governor may claim that there have been administrative errors in connection with land use plan cases.

The responsibility for dealing with objections is not especially addressed in Item 3. In this area, the general provisions will apply. In these cases, too, Items 4 and 5 of the guidelines, with associated explanations, will support evaluations relating to planning for children.

4. Reasons and premises for Item 4

Item 4 lays down requirements for the municipal planning process. Municipal planning applies to the municipality as an organisation and a society. The development of municipal planning pursuant to the PBA may also entail changing municipal working methods. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that the situation of children and young people is on the municipal political agenda when planning cases are discussed. The process requirements are largely found in a general form in the guidelines to the PBA: they do not represent anything new, but specify how the general requirements laid down in the PBA are to be used to strengthen the interests of children and young people in the planning process, in order to achieve the national objectives defined in Item 1.

One of the reasons why the interests of children and young people are disregarded in municipal planning may be that politicians are unaware of the consequences of plans for these groups. A requirement that the consequences of plans for children and young people shall be assessed in each case may lead to improved presentation of cases, bring issues relating to children and young people into the political debate, and increase awareness of the situation of children and young people. Descriptions and assessments must be based on the situation and needs of the various age groups. A good decision-making base is dependent on sufficient light being shed on the consequences for both small children and adolescents.

Item 4a is intended to ensure that there is focus on the interests of children and young people in planning and building cases that are not particularly related to children and young people, i.e. most municipal planning. The requirement for a consequence assessment means that the consequences for children and young people must be described in cases where the interests of children and young people are affected. Item 4b requires the municipality to undertake an overall evaluation of the environment in which children and young people grow up as part of their work on the municipal master plan. The objective is for the interests of children and young people to be integrated into all municipal planning.

Pursuant to Item 4b, municipalities may choose how they will arrive at an overall evaluation of the environment in which children and young people grow up in their work on the municipal master plan. The main message is that a holistic policy for the environment in which children and young people grow up must be developed in such a way that the municipal master plan provides a basis for decisions on individual cases.

This may be achieved by formulating special issue plans for children and young people or in some other way. Most municipalities are already familiar with plans for children and young people. 350 of approximately 450 municipalities are working on first-generation plans for children and young people, i.e. descriptions of the situation of children and young people. It is important to ensure that these plans are integrated into work on the rolling municipal master plan.

Item 4c requires municipalities to prepare their own guidelines or regulations concerning the size and quality of areas and facilities of importance to children and young people. The guidelines may, for example, be in the form of a by-law (cf. PBA Sections 3 and 69.3) or part of the municipal master plan. They should subsequently be incorporated into local development plans and the land-use section of the municipal master plan (Section 20-4), as the amendments to the Planning and Building Act now permit.

Such guidelines are intended to further define the general indications in Item 5 of the guidelines. It is inappropriate to introduce national regulations that would apply to various types of area or to municipalities with highly differing development patterns, etc. Detailed guidelines on physical matters must be formulated by each municipality so that they can be adapted to local conditions.

Such by-laws or guidelines will simplify municipal processing of individual cases. Clarification is provided in advance and it is unnecessary to enter into detailed discussions on the principles for play areas, etc. in each individual case.

Item 4c may also be regarded as a request to municipalities to review all their by-laws pursuant to the PBA from the point of view of consideration for children.

The intention of Item 4d is to make municipalities aware that children and young people are often affected by plans, even if they do not come under the ordinary understanding of the term “affected party”. Children and young people are not rights owners in the formal sense. They are not notified as land-owners or neighbours, nor can they always formulate or present their demands themselves. It is therefore important that the various persons, groups or bodies who are able to represent the interests of children and young people be given the opportunity to present their views.

Item 4d is a special requirement to involve children and young people themselves more actively in the planning process. This is merely a further specification of the general requirement for participation under the PBA (Section 16). However, not everyone regards it as a matter of course that all the requirements of the PBA apply to children and young people. Special consideration and special methods are required to facilitate this. The requirement does not apply to all planning, but to cases that affect children and young people in which they wish or are qualified to participate.

5. Reasons and premises for Item 5

Items 5a and b contain requirements relating to physical planning. Item 5b applies particularly to the local environment for small children. People who work on planning for children and young people generally agree that the matters addressed here are vital in order to ensure a good physical environment in which to grow up and play.

We know that children have a limited radius of action and that good access to areas and facilities used by children and young people are important. This particularly applies to access on foot or by bicycle. We know that children and young people are unable to master complex traffic situations and that it is therefore extremely important to provide areas and routes that are safe from traffic. We know that children are particularly vulnerable to health problems resulting from air pollution, etc.

The requirements in Items 5a and b are general and refer only to factors that must be considered. They do not provide sufficient guidance as to how the requirements may be met in various types of area. The State will provide further guidance in this regard. Nevertheless, the requirements specify factors against which possible objections, protests, complaints or comments on plans and individual cases must be considered.

Item 5c requires municipalities to earmark adequate and suitable sites for day-care centres. The site requirements must be viewed in conjunction with the objective of full coverage, cf. Report No. 8 to the Storting (1987-88), Day-care Centres Towards the Year 2000 and Recommendation No. 157 to the Storting (1987-88), whereby municipalities are required to prepare an updated plan for the development of day-care centres to achieve full coverage by the end of 1989. As far as possible, these plans must describe day-care centres in the municipality when full coverage has been achieved, and indicate the location of each day-care centre. It is important to secure sites, bearing in mind the fact that day-care centres should be an integral part of the local community, offering possibilities for mutual contact, interaction and possible co-use with other institutions and common facilities in the local community.

Item 5d, which concerns replacement sites, is intended to prevent play areas from being regarded as reserve sites for development purposes. A large proportion of the planning conflicts relating to children concern the fact that play areas are used for other purposes. This applies to both natural play areas (woods, undeveloped sites, vacant lots, etc. where children play and have good possibilities for expressing themselves) and areas that are zoned for play or outdoor activities. Even if children and young people have used an area for generations, they do not have any “right” to it. “An equally good replacement” means that the new areas that are provided in compensation must meet the requirements laid down in Items 5a and b.

Item 5d applies to all types of re-allocation, i.e. both development and changes to the local development plan. It also applies regardless of whether the change takes the form of an important or a less important change to the local development plan, or a dispensation from the current development plan. It is important to emphasise this. The danger of the interests of children and young people being disregarded is particularly great in dispensation cases and in the case of less important changes to the local development plan. In such cases, the procedures for publication and cooperation with other bodies are not the same as for ordinary plans. Nor are there any clear rules as to what may be regarded as a less important change from the point of view of children and young people. In the experience of the Ombudsman for Children, the degredation or reduction of play areas often takes place through dispensations or “less important changes” to local development plans.

The guidelines are based on the actual use or usefulness of the area for play and recreation and not on the formal or regulatory factors that apply to the area. It is the use or usefulness of the area that is relevant for children and young people, not what the area is actually zoned for, or whether it is zoned or not, or who owns it.

The replacement requirement will not apply to every area that is suitable for play, but is intended to ensure that such areas are not allocated for development before it is certain that the general requirements for play possibilities under Items 5a and b can be met, and how this is to be achieved.

In cases of conflict, there will often be differing views about whether areas are actually used or not. The Ombudsman for Children has had cases where children and young people maintain that they use a play area that is in danger of being zoned for other purposes, while the people responsible for zoning maintain that the area is not used by children and young people at all. Consequently, in these types of cases it is especially important to involve children and young people in the planning process (cf. Item 4d).

The formulation concerning “the needs of the future” refers to problems associated with the fact that the number of children in a particular area varies over time. We cannot, therefore, only consider the children living in a particular area at a particular time but must also meet the needs of future generations of children. Proposals for the re-allocation of play areas are more frequently approved in periods when the number of children in an area is low.

Item 6 makes it possible to undertake necessary adjustments to the guidelines following legislative amendments, etc., without this having to be done by the Government in Council of State.