Biblio (22) Winter tourism in Switzerland

In red, swiss municipalities in which the ratio non permanent dwellings- total dwellings is presumed to be over 20%

In red, swiss municipalities in which the ratio non permanent dwellings- total dwellings is presumed to be over 20%

Non permanent homes, also known as “cold beds” (as they have no users but for some weeks around the year) is often a concern for planners in tourism receiving countries. Planning theorists agree on the costs to maintain urban tissues seldom used most of the time, and on the environmental costs of such land uses.

On march 11, 2012, Swiss voted on referendum (50,6 yes), among other measures, to limit non permanent homes to 20% on each municipality. The Federal Bylaw of august 22, 2012 establishes the rules to apply this decission. The bylaw defines:

  • A list of the municipalities in which the 20% is presumed to be surpassed
  • The yearly publication of an updated list of municipalities
  • The definition of non permanent homes (also designated as secondary homes) as the one not used by a person who resides in the municipality or for the needs of a lucrative activity or a formative activity
  • The possibility, for already existing secondary homes, to change use to permanent home, as far as the total preexisting gross floor area is not surpassed. There is also a special regime for hotels
  • On municipalities in which 20% is surpassed, only new permanent dwellings or some kind of guest houses could be built.
  • There are specific rules for secondary homes on listed buildings that contribute to the landscape as caractheristic elements

Some interesting points:

  • Even in Switzerland, known as a civilized country, the number of secondary homes is not well known, but “presumed”
  • This is a burning issue: the 50,6% that voted yes reside mainly in the northern cities, but the measure is relevant in the alpine south.
  • The bylaw does not make 20% mandatory for the municipalities that are over that proportion, but rather makes their existing number the top. This could create a specific real estate market for existing secondary homes.

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