Too much land in Switzerland is zoned for building, but it is in the wrong place, the Swiss Spatial Planning Office said on Thursday.
According to a report commissioned by the office, the amount of land available for new buildings is sufficient to provide homes for between 1.4 and 2.1 million extra people, which is more than the projected increase in population.
However, much of this earmarked land is in rural areas, poorly served by public transport.
The office says that the greatest demand will be along the major traffic routes and in the major urban areas. As a result of this imbalance, some cantons will have far more land than they require, while city cantons, like Basel and Geneva, will not have enough.
Office head Pierre-Alain Rumley said that if nothing was done, the authorities around the major cities might simply re-zone land to meet the need.
He called for a system of compensation so that building zones can be moved to the place where they are needed. He left open whether such a system would be operated within single communes, at cantonal level or across the country as a whole.