Town Planning Review

Negative covenants and real-estate developers’ modus operandi: the case of suburban densification in Oslo, Norway

Town Planning Review (2020), 91, (3), 325–342.

Abstract

This article presents an investigation of how developers in Oslo, Norway, relate to and deal with negative covenants in densification projects. A densification project which is permissible under the zoning system and public-law provisions might simultaneously be in breach of the covenant system and private-law rules. As long as a negative covenant is not annulled in the event of a conflict between the covenant and project plan, it can prevent publicly approved development projects from going ahead. The challenges associated with negative covenants and zoning plans, and thus the implementation of housing and densification policies, have been the subject of several Supreme Court decisions, concluding that the implementation of a zoning plan does not overrule negative covenants inconsistent with the public regulations. The article’s most important finding is that the Norwegian system for dealing with covenants is costly in terms of time and resources, and creates unpredictability for rights holders and developers alike due to the risk of covenants being enforced. The biggest challenge is having two different systems working more or less independently of one another.

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References

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DENG, F. (2003), ‘The rebound of private zoning: property rights and local governance in urban land use’, Environment and Planning A, 35, 133–49. Google Scholar

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FALKANGER, T. (2017), Fast eiendoms rettsforhold, Oslo, Universitetsforlaget. Google Scholar

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JONES, C. (2014), ‘Land use planning policies and market forces: utopian aspirations thwarted?’, Land Use Policy, 38, 573–79. Google Scholar

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LAI, L. W. C. (2005), ‘Neo-institutional economics and planning theory’, Planning Theory, 4, 7–19. Google Scholar

LI, D. (1996), ‘A theory of ambiguous property rights in transition economies: the case of the Chinese non-state sector’, Journal of Comparative Economics, 23, 1–19. Google Scholar

LOGAN, T. H. (1976), ‘The Americanization of German zoning’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 42, 377–85. Google Scholar

LUNDBERG, W. (1973), ‘Restrictive covenants and land use control: private zoning’, Montana Law Review, 34, 199–217. Google Scholar

MAHONEY, J. and THELEN, K. A. (2010), Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

NEEDHAM, B. (2012), ‘Interests and rights in property, and their place in land-use planning: a theoretical investigation’, in T. Hartmann and B. Needham (eds), Planning by Law and Property Rights Reconsidered, Abingdon, Ashgate, 23–36. Google Scholar

NEEDHAM, B. (2018), ‘A Dutch perspective on expropriation: the pragmatic way’, in Gerber et al. (eds), 307–10. Google Scholar

NELSON, R. H. (1986), ‘Private rights to government actions: how modern property rights evolve’, University of Illinois Law Review, 2, 361–86. Google Scholar

NELSON, R. H. (1999), ‘Privatizing the neighborhood: a proposal to replace zoning with private collective property rights to existing neighborhoods’, George Mason Law Review, 7, 827–80. Google Scholar

NORTH, D. C. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

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PENNINGTON, M. (2002), Liberating the Land: The Case for Private Land-Use Planning, London, Institute of Economic Affairs. Google Scholar

PETERS, G. B. (2012), Institutional Theory in Political Science: The ‘New Institutionalism’, 3rd edn, London, Continuum. Google Scholar

RICHARDSON, J. J. and BERNARD, A. C. (2011), ‘Zoning for conservation easements’, Law and Contemporary Problems, 74, 83–108. Google Scholar

SCOTT, W. R. (2001), Institutions and Organizations, 2nd edn, London, Sage. Google Scholar

SEARLE, G. (ed.) (2018), Compulsory Property Acquisition for Urban Densification, Abingdon, Routledge. Google Scholar

SEVATDAL, H. and SKY, P. K. (2003), Eigedomsteori: innføring i samfunnsvitskapeleg teoritilfang for utøving av eigedomsfag, Ås, NLH. Google Scholar

STAVANG, E. (2011), Opphør av servitutter, Oslo, Cappelen Damm. Google Scholar

STAVANG, E. and STENSETH, G. (2017), Fast eiendoms tingsrett, Oslo, Gyldendal. Google Scholar

SUNDE, J. Ø. (2004), ‘På sporet av det tapte overbygslingsinstituttet – eit rettshistorisk og juridisk bidrag’, Historisk tidsskrift, 83, 181–205. Google Scholar

SUTCLIFFE, A. (1981), Towards the Planned City: Germany, Britain, the United States and France, 1780–1914, Oxford, Blackwell. Google Scholar

ALBRECHT, J. (2018), ‘Expropriation for urban development purposes in Germany’, in J.-D. Gerber, T. Hartmann and A. Hengstermann (eds), Instruments of Land Policy: Dealing with Scarcity of Land, Abingdon, Routledge, 294–306. Google Scholar

ALEXANDER, E. R. (2001), ‘Governance and transaction costs in planning systems: a conceptual framework for institutional analysis of land-use planning and development control – the case of Israel’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 28, 755–76. Google Scholar

ALEXANDER, E. R. (2014), ‘Land-property markets and planning: a special case’, Land Use Policy, 41, 533–40. Google Scholar

BERGER, L. (1964), ‘Conflicts between zoning ordinances and restrictive covenants: a problem in land use policy’, Nebraska Law Review, 43, 449–70. Google Scholar

BERGSHOLM, E. (2016), Rettigheter i fast eiendom: En innføring i tingsrett, Bergen, Fagbokforlaget. Google Scholar

BIERNACKI, P. and WALDORF, D. (1981), ‘Snowball sampling: problems and techniques of chain referral sampling’, Sociological Methods & Research, 10, 141–63. Google Scholar

BLOMLEY, N. (2017), ‘Land use, planning, and the “difficult character of property”’, Planning Theory & Practice, 18, 351–64. Google Scholar

BOOTH, P. (1996), Controlling Development: Certainty and Discretion in Europe, the USA and Hong Kong, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

BOYER, M. C. (1983), Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American City Planning, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. Google Scholar

BUITELAAR, E. (2009), ‘Zoning, more than just a tool: explaining Houston’s regulatory practice’, European Planning Studies, 17, 1049–65. Google Scholar

CHAPIN, F. S. (1965), Urban Land Use Planning, Urbana, University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar

DEHRING, C. A. and LIND, M. S. (2007), ‘Residential land-use controls and land values: zoning and covenant interactions’, Land Economics, 83, 445–57. Google Scholar

DENG, F. (2003), ‘The rebound of private zoning: property rights and local governance in urban land use’, Environment and Planning A, 35, 133–49. Google Scholar

ELLICKSON, R. C. (1973), ‘Alternatives to zoning: covenants, nuisance rules, and fines as land use controls’, University of Chicago Law Review, 40, 681–781. Google Scholar

ELVESTAD, H. E. (2017), ‘Håndtering av konflikt mellom strøksservitutter og reguleringsplaner i Sverige og Danmark’, Kart og plan, 77, 333–46. Google Scholar

FALKANGER, T. (2017), Fast eiendoms rettsforhold, Oslo, Universitetsforlaget. Google Scholar

FALKANGER, T. and FALKANGER, A. T. (2016), Tingsrett, Oslo, Universitetsforlaget. Google Scholar

FISCHEL, W. A. (1978), ‘A property rights approach to municipal zoning’, Land Economics, 54, 64–81. Google Scholar

FISCHEL, W. A. (2015), Zoning Rules! The Economics of Land Use Regulation, Cambridge, MA, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Google Scholar

GERBER, J.-D., HENGSTERMANN, A. and VIALLON, F.X. (2018), ‘Land policy: how to deal with scarcity of land’, in Gerber et al. (eds), 8–26. Google Scholar

HAAR, C. M. (1959), Land-Use Planning: A Casebook on the Use, Misuse, and Re-use of Urban Land, Boston, Little, Brown. Google Scholar

HARTMANN, T. and NEEDHAM, B. (eds) (2012), Planning by Law and Property Rights Reconsidered, Abingdon, Ashgate. Google Scholar

HOLSEN, T. (2019), ‘A path dependent systems perspective on participation in municipal land-use planning in Norway’, paper delivered to the AESOP annual conference, Venice, 9–13 July. Google Scholar

HOLTSLAG-BROEKHOF, S., HARTMANN, T. and SPIT, T. (2018), ‘Compulsory acquisition in the Netherlands’, in Searle (ed.), 8–17. Google Scholar

HUGHES, W. T. and TURNBULL, G. K. (1996), ‘Restrictive land covenants’, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 12, 9–21. Google Scholar

JACOBS, H. M. (2009), ‘An alternative perspective on United States–European property rights and land use planning: differences without any substance’, Planning & Environmental Law, 61, 3–12. Google Scholar

JACOBS, H. M. and PAULSEN, K. (2009), ‘Property rights: the neglected theme of 20th-century American planning’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 75, 134–43. Google Scholar

JONES, C. (2014), ‘Land use planning policies and market forces: utopian aspirations thwarted?’, Land Use Policy, 38, 573–79. Google Scholar

KAISER, E. J. and GODSCHALK, D. R. (1995), ‘Twentieth century land use planning: a stalwart family tree’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 61, 365–85. Google Scholar

LAI, L. W. C. (1997), ‘Property rights justifications for planning and a theory of zoning’, Progress in Planning, 48, 161–246. Google Scholar

LAI, L. W. C. (2005), ‘Neo-institutional economics and planning theory’, Planning Theory, 4, 7–19. Google Scholar

LI, D. (1996), ‘A theory of ambiguous property rights in transition economies: the case of the Chinese non-state sector’, Journal of Comparative Economics, 23, 1–19. Google Scholar

LOGAN, T. H. (1976), ‘The Americanization of German zoning’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 42, 377–85. Google Scholar

LUNDBERG, W. (1973), ‘Restrictive covenants and land use control: private zoning’, Montana Law Review, 34, 199–217. Google Scholar

MAHONEY, J. and THELEN, K. A. (2010), Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

NEEDHAM, B. (2012), ‘Interests and rights in property, and their place in land-use planning: a theoretical investigation’, in T. Hartmann and B. Needham (eds), Planning by Law and Property Rights Reconsidered, Abingdon, Ashgate, 23–36. Google Scholar

NEEDHAM, B. (2018), ‘A Dutch perspective on expropriation: the pragmatic way’, in Gerber et al. (eds), 307–10. Google Scholar

NELSON, R. H. (1986), ‘Private rights to government actions: how modern property rights evolve’, University of Illinois Law Review, 2, 361–86. Google Scholar

NELSON, R. H. (1999), ‘Privatizing the neighborhood: a proposal to replace zoning with private collective property rights to existing neighborhoods’, George Mason Law Review, 7, 827–80. Google Scholar

NORTH, D. C. (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

OSLO MUNICIPALITY (2015), Kommuneplan for Oslo 2015, Oslo mot 2030, Oslo, Oslo kommune. Google Scholar

PENNINGTON, M. (2002), Liberating the Land: The Case for Private Land-Use Planning, London, Institute of Economic Affairs. Google Scholar

PETERS, G. B. (2012), Institutional Theory in Political Science: The ‘New Institutionalism’, 3rd edn, London, Continuum. Google Scholar

RICHARDSON, J. J. and BERNARD, A. C. (2011), ‘Zoning for conservation easements’, Law and Contemporary Problems, 74, 83–108. Google Scholar

SCOTT, W. R. (2001), Institutions and Organizations, 2nd edn, London, Sage. Google Scholar

SEARLE, G. (ed.) (2018), Compulsory Property Acquisition for Urban Densification, Abingdon, Routledge. Google Scholar

SEVATDAL, H. and SKY, P. K. (2003), Eigedomsteori: innføring i samfunnsvitskapeleg teoritilfang for utøving av eigedomsfag, Ås, NLH. Google Scholar

STAVANG, E. (2011), Opphør av servitutter, Oslo, Cappelen Damm. Google Scholar

STAVANG, E. and STENSETH, G. (2017), Fast eiendoms tingsrett, Oslo, Gyldendal. Google Scholar

SUNDE, J. Ø. (2004), ‘På sporet av det tapte overbygslingsinstituttet – eit rettshistorisk og juridisk bidrag’, Historisk tidsskrift, 83, 181–205. Google Scholar

SUTCLIFFE, A. (1981), Towards the Planned City: Germany, Britain, the United States and France, 1780–1914, Oxford, Blackwell. Google Scholar

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Author details

Elvestad, Helén

Holsen, Terje