The Compendium of Urban and Regional Development

The Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association (formerly known as The Academy for Spatial Research and Planning) (ARL) has been publishing the Handwörterbuch der Stadt- und Raumentwicklung for over five decades.

It is directed at interested academics and practitioners. A selection of English language articles can be downloaded here for free.

Looking for an article that is not yet available in English? Email us and let us know which article you would like to have translated!

The German versions of all articles are available here.



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  1. Clarification of the concept and theoretical context
  2. Stakeholders in participation
  3. Reasons for participation and its significance for planning processes
  4. Prerequisites and quality standards for participation
  5. Forms, procedure and methods of participation
  6. Critical classification


Participation has gained currency again. Large-scale infrastructure projects demonstrate particularly well how important it is to involve the population in planning processes at an early stage. Communication strategies that take various forms, procedures and methods into account as well as quality standards and the specific spatial issues contribute to a successful process. This entry examines participation in the context of planning theory and outlines the most recent developments.

Heidi Sinning

Place Identity

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  1. Introduction
  2. Key meanings of identity
  3. How identity relates to space
  4. The ontological status of place identity
  5. Place identity and its relevance for spatial planning


Place identity manifests itself by means of cognitive-emotive constructs, which represent the identities of spatial objects in people’s minds as images and mental maps. These spatial entities are reference points for emotive appropriation (feeling at home, being loyal to a place), which become effective as elements of a person’s own identity (ego-identity) and a collective identity (weidentity).

Peter Weichhart


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  1. Terminological demarcation
  2. The logic of planning
  3. Spatial planning as a type of planning
  4. Project and programme planning
  5. Planning and governance
  6. Historical planning controversies
  7. Planning dilemmas
  8. The limits of planning
Additional literature

Public planning is institutionalised, methodologically grounded and political (it must deal with numerous conflicts between relevant interests and social values/standards). The high demands made on public planning and the limited steering ability of planners lead to planning dilemmas. Planning is subject to constant change, and is closely linked to changes in the state or in the concept of the state.

Dietrich Fürst

Planning culture

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1 Introduction
2 Planning culture: a definition
3 Planning culture research: analytical perspectives
4 Planning culture: unresolved issues

Studying planning culture contributes to a deeper understanding of planning practice by identifying the ways planners and
planning institutions think and act on the basis of typical (societal) orientations and the associated value systems.

Planning Errors

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1 Introduction
2 Definition of ‘planning error’
3 Who decides what a planning error is?
4 Errors in thinking
5 Are planning errors avoidable?

Planning can be thought of as the mental process of anticipating future actions. When things go wrong in the planning process, that is referred to as a planning error. Such errors affect either the intended or the actual outcomes or characteristics of the affected projects. However, planning theory rarely addresses errors, in spite of the countless ways in which mistakes can be made.

Walter Schönwandt, Sabrina Brenner

Planning law

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1 The interfaces between correlated public tasks
2 Law in the German spatial planning system
3 Spatial planning in the German legal system
4 The realisation of plans

Planning law spans a broad and versatile spectrum of public tasks with diverse reciprocal impacts. The law fulfils guiding, content-defining, stabilising as well as controlling tasks, and planning serves development-oriented design, concretising and coordinating functions. To the extent that spatial plans contain normative regulations, they have a legally constitutive effect.

Willy Spannowsky

Planning systems

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1 Planning systems: Basic notion and context
2 Current understanding and use of the term planning system:
Comparison of systems and the exchange of knowledge
3 Conclusions and outlook

The term ‘planning system’ is mostly used to describe planning activities in a given national context. The link between the planning system and the nation state is based on the fact that planning systems have developed within the framework of national statutory provisions and general institutional conditions. The benefit of characterising planning systems lies in the comparison of different national systems and in the exchange of knowledge.

Karina Pallagst


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Polycentricity refers to spatial structures on various scales that feature a number of spatially separated centres related to one another through mutual exchange processes. The term is used both in an empirical/analytical sense and in a political/normative sense, but a uniform understanding has yet to emerge.

Thorsten Wiechmann, Stefan Siedentop

Preparatory land-use plan

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  1. The preparatory land-use plan as a preliminary urban land-use plan
  2. Importance for urban structural development
  3. Content of the preparatory land-use plan
  4. Functional and spatial partial preparatory land-use plan
  5. Processes
  6. Legal effect, legal nature and legal remedies
Additional literature

The preparatory land-use plan is the preliminary stage of the urban land-use plan and, as a land use strategy, includes the entire municipal territory. In terms of the planning hierarchy, it is given a pivotal function between supra-local spatial planning and local binding land-use planning. In terms of the representations contained within it, by definition it has a steering, developing and organising function.

Stephan Mitschang

Protection and preservation of heritage assets

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1 Terms, definitions and institutions
2 The history of heritage preservation
3 Inventories
4 Heritage preservation in the context of urban development
5 The preservation of archaeological heritage and buried cultural assets
6 Heritage preservation in an international context

The preservation of heritage encompasses the efforts made by society and professionals to preserve historically significant monuments and buildings (heritage assets) that are recognised as valuable. In Germany, ultimate responsibility for the protection, conservation and management of heritage assets is institutionally vested in the federal states, which have official authority over cultural matters. The protection of historic buildings and monuments encompasses activities related to the official enforcement of regulations governing these matters. In an urban development context, heritage preservation involves representing conservation concerns in planning processes at all levels.

Hans-Rudolf Meier

Provision of public services

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  1. Basic principles and development
  2. Scope
  3. Provision of public services through spatial planning
  4. Conclusions and outlook
Additional literature

The term ‘provision of public services’ refers to services for the common good in the broader sense: those required by individuals in order to have an acceptable lifestyle and which are subject to regular state influence because of their essentially market-centred provision.

Alexander Milstein

Public participation

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  1. Clarification of the term
  2. The legal framework for public participation
  3. Public participation in select practical fields
  4. Reflection and outlook

Public participation provides for participation ‘by anybody’ in spatially relevant planning and projects. It is anchored in various laws and public programmes. Public participation has become a key procedural element of urban and spatial planning. Recent conflicts in connection with large-scale infrastructure projects and as part of Germany’s energy transition have underscored its importance.

Heidi Sinning

Public space

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  1. Terms and definitions
  2. Functions of public space
  3. Academic discourse
  4. The tasks of planning
Additional literature

The entirety of all urban spaces that are generally accessible and usable by the general public are referred to as public space. Public spaces fulfil important economic, social, ecological, cultural and political functions and are designed and developed by a large number of stakeholders. They are subject to a constant change in function, use and significance.

Ulrich Berding, Klaus Selle

Public transport

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1 Basic characteristics
2 Historical development
3 Role in the transport system
4 Available services and subsystems
5 Providers and market structure
6 Current issues
Additional literature


The key characteristics of public transport are long-term planning, general accessibility and concentrated demand. While its flexibility is limited, it can handle heavy traffic flows efficiently. Services need to be expanded in response to changing levels of demand.

Martin Schiefelbusch