The glossary

Planning terms are often rooted in the administrative and planning culture of a particular country and cannot be straightforwardly translated.

The English-language glossary presented here is intended to offer a translation and elucidation of central terms in the German planning system to a non-German speaking readership in the interests of facilitating discourse.

Our intention is to ensure as much consistency as possible in the key terms used throughout this platform and the publications of the ARL that can be found here.

The definitions used are based on those found in the national glossary for Germany, which was elaborated in the framework of the BSR INTERREG III B project COMMIN.

Click here to perform a search based on the English term.

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B

BaugenehmigungBuilding permission

Permission for the construction, alteration, demolition, or conversion of a physical structure is required from the competent authority. It must be granted on application by the project sponsor if there is no legal impediment to the project. Building permission is therefore strictly governed by planning laws and regulations and other relevant legislation, for instance that relating to pollution and water. In individual cases, the building authorities may use its discretion to allow exceptions, exemptions or derogations. In most cases the competent authorities are county or municipal building inspectorates referred to variously as "Bauordnungsamt" or "Bauaufsichtsamt." The details of application and permission procedures are set forth in state building regulations.

Baugenehmigungsbehördebuilding permission authorities

see "building permission"

Baugesetzbuch (BauGB)Federal Building Code

The Federal Building Code is the most important plank of urban development law. It contains four chapters:

  • Chapter One: General Urban Planning Law;
  • Chapter Two: Special Urban Planning Law;
  • Chapter Three: Other Provisions;
  • Chapter Four: Transitional and Concluding Provisions.

General urban planning law covers such areas as urban land-use planning, building permission, land reallocation, expropriation and compensation, infrastructure provision and servicing, and nature conservation. Special urban planning legislation is concerned principally with urban rehabilitation, urban development and redevelopment, the preservation of physical structures and the specific character of areas, and urbandevelopment enforcement orders. Other provisions deal with valuation,  ompetencies, administrative procedures and planning safeguards.

Baugesetzbuch (BauGB)Federal Building Code

The Federal Building Code is the most important plank of urban development law. It contains four chapters:
• Chapter One: General Urban Planning Law;
• Chapter Two: Special Urban Planning Law;
• Chapter Three: Other Provisions;
• Chapter Four: Transitional and Concluding Provisions.

General urban planning law covers such areas as urban land-use planning, building permission, land reallocation, expropriation and compensation, infrastructure provision and servicing, and nature conservation. Special urban planning legislation is concerned principally with urban rehabilitation, urban development and redevelopment, the preservation of physical structures and the specific character of areas, and urbandevelopment enforcement orders. Other provisions deal with valuation,  ompetencies, administrative procedures and planning safeguards.

BauleitplanungUrban land-use planning

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On the basis of the Federal Building Code, local authorities undertake development planning in the form of urban land-use planning on their own responsibility (local planning autonomy). The function of urban land-use planning is to prepare and organise the use of plots within the municipal territory for building and other purposes in accordance with the Federal Building Code.
Land-use plans drawn up by local authorities are to safeguard sustainable urban development and a socially equitable utilisation of land for the general good of the community, and to secure a more humane environment, and to protect and develop natural resources. Land-use planning “dedicates” land for specific uses (e.g., housing, commerce, public amenities). It may also lay down restrictions (e.g., maximum lot coverage, maximum number of storeys, etc.), obligations (e.g., housing for specific categories of person), and requirements with respect to the implementation of the use in question (e.g., noise control, greenery).
Urban land-use planning is a two-stage process involving two types of plan:
• the preparatory landuse plan (Flächennutzungsplan, FNP)
• the binding land-use plan (Bebauungsplan).

The preparatory land-use plan provides the framework for preparing binding land-use plans The two types of plan differ essentially as regards spatial scope, detail, legal form, and legal effects. Otherwise there are governed by largely similar rules, especially with respect to planning principles and procedures for plan preparation. The Federal Building Code and the Federal Spatial Planning Act require local planning authorities to ensure that land-use plans conform with the goals of spatial planning. The Federal Building Code thus takes account of the functional dovetailing of state or regional planning and urban land-use planning. At the same time, the importance of state and regional planning in setting the framework for urban land-use planning is stressed.

Bauliniebuilding lines

Permissible lot coverage, i.e., the proportion of the surface area of a site which may be built on, can be fixed by setting building lines, set-back lines or coverage depths in a binding land-use plan. When a building line is stipulated, development must take place along this line; whereas a set-back line sets a boundary beyond which no building or part of a building on the site may extend. Coverage depth stipulates also sets a limit which may not be exceeded. Minor departures may be permitted from all three of these limits.

Baumassenzahlcubing ratio

The cubing ratio indicates the maximum volume of buildings per square metre of plot area. It is calculated on the basis of the external dimensions of buildings from the floor of the lowest full storey to the ceiling of the uppermost full storey. In respect of industrial, commercial and special-use areas, planning designations may be made without the need for details on the number of storeys.

BaunutzungsverordnungLand Utilisation Ordinance

Based on powers drawn from the German Federal Building Code, the Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development has issued regulations concerning the land-use of land par-cels (Land-Use Ordinance) The Land-Use Ordinance consists mainly of provisions concerning the presentation and stipulation of the type and amount of land-use, building type and permitted building coverage of land parcels. It supplements the regulations of the German Federal Building Code about land-use planning and whether proposals are permissible. The Land-Use Ordinance stipulates, for instance, that the general type of land-use of areas intended for building coverage is to be indicated in the Zoning Plan as one of a number of categories:
1. Residential development land
2. Mixed development land
3. Commercial development land
4. Special purpose development land

In addition, it is possible use the Local Building and Construction Plan to indicate particular uses of land intended for building coverage:
1. Areas of small residential estates,
2. Residential-only areas,
3. General residential areas,
4. Special residential areas,
5. Village areas,
6. Mixed use areas,
7. Core areas,
8. Commercial areas,
9. Industrial areas,
10. Special use areas.

In addition to regulating land-use, the Land-Use Ordinance also regulates at the national level permissible building coverage measured by plot coverage ratio, floor area ratio, number of floors, and development height.

Bauordnungbuilding regulations

Unlike planning law (urban development law), building regulations (or building control law) are the purview of state legislation. Building regulations thus apply only within the state concerned. This allows state governments to take account of conditions specific to the given territory. As a rule, state building regulations are based on standard building regulations elaborated by the Conference of the Ministers and Senators of the States Responsible for Building, Housing and Settlement (ARGEBAU).

State building regulations contain substantive provisions relating to construction on site, as well as procedural provisions on building permission procedures and the organisation of building authorities. One key aspect of the substantive arrangements is conformity with generally accepted technical standards and technical building regulations in order to avert any risk to public safety and order.

BauplanungsrechtPlanning law

Planning law, also referred to as urban development law regulates the use of land. In particular, it governs whether and how a site can be developed. The power to enact planning law rests with the federation, the most important plank of planning law being the Federal Building Code. Other important sources of planning law are the Federal Land Utilisation Ordinance and the Plan Notation Ordinance.

BBSRBBSR

The highest federal authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany are the federal ministries, each led by a federal minister nominated by the federal chancellor and appointed by the federal president. The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) is responsible for spatial planning. It is also the most important federal government investor, since all federal responsibilities for transport and physical infrastructure are concentrated under its roof.

A particularly important subordinate higher federal authority within the purview of the BMVBS is the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR). The BBR assists the federal government with expert advice on spatial and urban planning, as well as on housing and building. Within the BMVBS, the (standing) Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning (MKRO) and the Advisory Council on Spatial Planning are two important advisory institutions (=Federal Insitute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development)

BebauungsplanBinding land-use plan

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The binding land-use plan lays down legally binding rules for the development and organisation of sections of the municipal territory. It is developed on the basis of the preparatory land-use plan, but, unlike the latter, it creates direct rights and duties with regard to the utilisation of the sites within its purview. It can determine the category of use and degree of building coverage, type of development (open or closed), and lot coverage. It can also earmark sites for mitigation measures to offset intrusions, as well as sites for ancillary structures such as parking space and garages, vehicular and pedestrian infrastructure, and green spaces. Pursuant to the Land Utilisation Ordinance, the binding land-use plan can categorize land-use areas (for example as purely residential areas, general residential areas, mixed use areas, commercial areas, industrial areas). The degree of building coverage can be determined by setting the plot ratio, floorspace index, cubing ratio, height of structures, and number of full storeys.

Permissible lot coverage can be set by means of building lines, set-back lines, or coverage depths. Binding land-use plans also serve as the basis for other urban development activities provided for in the Federal Building Code, such as land reallocation, expropriation, and improvement. Plan preparation procedure is regulated in detail by the Federal Building Code. The binding land-use plan is adopted as a bye-law by the local council; it is therefore generally binding, also on private individuals. The binding land-use plan consists of a plan with legend, textual designations and information for the record, as well as an explanatory memorandum, including an environmental report. A special form of binding urban land-use planning is the project-based binding land-use plan. Such plans permit the municipality to grant permission for projects where, on the basis of a project and infrastructure plan agreed with the municipality, the project developer undertakes to complete the plan within a certain delay and fully or partly assumes planning and land improvement costs.

BehördenbeteiligungPublic authorities participation

The Federal Building code regulates procedure for public authority participation in urban land-use planning in a similar manner to public participation, since planning can affect both matters falling within the remit of public authorities, agencies, public associations, and neighbouring municipalities and the public interest. Procedures provide for a complete account of interests affected by planning and prepare the process of weighing (or balancing) public and private interests. The law requires two-phase (early and formal) participation by public authorities and other public agencies, i.e. institutions to which public sector tasks have been assigned by law or pursuant to a law. In the first phase, public authorities and other agencies whose areas of responsibility are or could be affected by planning are to be informed at the earliest possible date about the general aims and purposes of the planning, about alternatives for the reorganisation or development of an area, and about the potential impacts of planning, and are to be requested to state their views. In the second phase, public authorities are to comment on the draft plan and on the explanatory memorandum. These comments are to be limited to the remit of the public authority in question and are to be delivered within a month.

Besonderes StädtebaurechtSpecial Urban Development Law

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In keeping with European law, public contracts are awarded in accordance with differentiated statutory regulatory regimes. This is also the case with regard to planning services. These regimes include the Contracting Procedures for Building Works (VOB), the Contracting Procedures for Services (VOL), the Contracting Procedures for Professional Services (VOF), the Regulation of the Award of Public Contracts (VgV), and the Fee Schedule for Architects and Engineers (HOAI). The VOB regulates contracting for building services. Building services are works of every type by which a physical structure or installation is produced, maintained, altered, or removed. Planning service contracts, in contrast, are mostly awarded in accordance with the VOF or VOL. The VOF (Contracting Procedures for Professional Services) applies with respect to contracts for services rendered in the course of independent professional activities or offered in competition with free-lance professionals.

The VOF applies when the contract value reaches or exceeds a certain level. The VOL (Contracting Rules for Services) applies with regard to supplies and services that are not within the ambit of the VOB or the VOF. They are also applicable for services rendered by freelance professionals or in competition with such and which involve tasks which cannot be unambiguously and exhaustively specified in advance, and when the threshold contract values laid down by the Regulation on the Award of Public Contracts are reached or exceeded. The Regulation on the Award of Public Contracts 2003 contains a number of provisions on the procedure to be followed in awarding and reviewing public contracts over the threshold values in Europe-wide contracting. The regulation obliges the contracting authority to apply the procedure above a certain contract value. The Fee Schedule for Architects and Engineers (HOAI) governs the remuneration of architectural and engineering services. It contains rules on calculating fees on the basis of basic services and special services.

besonderes WohngebietSpecial residential area

The Land Utilisation Ordinance classifies types of building use.
It distinguises two categories:
First, land-use areas for general types of use:
• housing land
• mixed building land
• industrial and commercial land
• special building land

This rough classification is to be used only in the preparatory land-use plan.
Second, land-use areas for specific types of building use:
• small holding areas
• purely residential areas
• general residential areas
• special residential areas
• village areas
• mixed areas
• core areas
• commercial areas
• industrial areas
• special areas.

These specific land-use areas can be designated in both the preparatory and the binding land-use plan and are finergrained and more detailed categories.
The Land Utilisation Ordinance defines all the above development areas and provides details on what building projects and facilities are permitted.

BeteiligungsverfahrenPublic participation procedure

A procedure is a formalised sequence of actions (i.e., with clearly defined, prescribed stages). All types of spatial planning (e.g., state spatial planning, regional planning, urban land-use planning and sectoral planning) are subject to certain procedures governing both the preparation of plans and participation. There are also statutory procedures for approving certain types of project. They include planning approval laid down in administrative procedure legislation, and sometime in sectoral planning laws.
State spatial planning acts set forth the procedures for preparing state development plans and programmes, as well as regional plans. The framework is set by the Federal Spatial Planning Act (e.g., Section 9 ( 4)).

One particularly rigorous procedure (since it is enshrined in the Federal Building Code) is that governing the preparation, amendment, and repeal of urban land-use plans. The various stages – initiation of the procedure, participation, public display, adoption and approval of the plan (e.g., urban land-use plan) – are prescribed by law. The procedure for public participation in the preparation of urban land-use plans is also standardised; this is a two stage procedure. The first stage provides for the public to be informed at the earliest possible date through public advertisement of the general aims and purposes of the plan and of alternative proposals for the re-organisation or development of the planning area, and of the foreseeable impacts of the plan; at this point members of the public are given the opportunity to express their views and to gain further clarification. In a second step, draft plans and the accompanying explanatory memorandum, are placed on public display for a period of one month. During this period, members of the public are entitled to voice any objections to the plan or to make recommendations. The municipality is subsequently required to consider these objections and recommendations and to communicate the outcome of its deliberations to the people concerned.

BodenrechtLand law

Land Law includes all regulations that treat land as an object of legislation. Thus in Germany (local) urban development planning law, readjustment of land, consolidation and land evaluation, land protection legislation, land development rights, allotment law and urban conservation all form part of Land Law. According to the German constitution, it is within the jurisdiction of the federal authorities to pass concurrent legislation relevant to Land Law. German states are consequently allowed to legislate as long as, or in areas where, federal legislation is absent. The German Federal Constitutional Court has limited the legislative jurisdiction of the German federal authorities to those areas of Land Law anchored in planning law, while building regulations remain within the legislative authority of the states.

BodenschutzSoil conservation

Soil conservation includes all activities for conserving and protecting soils and soil functions under the general heading of nature conservation and environmental protection. The soil, which has to be regarded as the basis for all life and as an integral component of the natural environment, is threatened by a multitude of factors, e.g. the extraction of raw materials, land take, surface sealing, compaction, erosion and contamination by harmful substances. Special care needs to be taken to give the soil the protection it requires. The Federal Soil Protection Act aims to provide long-term protection for soil functions, and to restore these functions where they have been impaired. The Act includes provides for
• the prevention of harmful changes to the soil,
• the remediation of soil and contaminated sites, and of consequently contaminated water, and
• precautionary measures to avert adverse impacts on soil.

Under the Act, soil polluters and landowners can be required to take preventive measures and remediate contaminated sites. The pertinent provisions determine the parties responsible for remediation, define the powers of the public authorities, and regulate remediation planning.

Brachflächebrownfield site

The German term “Brachfläche,”, is not clearly defined and covers a broad field of meaning. Its origins are in agriculture, where “Brache” means “fallow (land)” land left uncultivated for a year to restore its fertility in the three-field crop rotation system. In urban studies and urban planning practice, “Brache” has been applied to abandoned or formerly developed land particularly since the 1970s, when economic and technical structural change led to the widespread abandonment of sites. In contrast to fallow land in agriculture, the derelict or vacant sites in this context are not deliberately taken out of the use cycle, but usually find no subsequent use.

There are many and varied reasons, such as the type and state of the sites. Vacant land can be categorized in terms of descriptive attributes (former use, size, contamination risk, etc.), economic attributes (cost and yield aspects), temporal aspects (short-term or permanent abandonment), and action-oriented aspects (need for intervention to change locational qualities enabling revitalisation or subsequent use).

BundFederation, federal government

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the term Bund (“Federation“) is used to refer to central government as opposed to the component states (“Länder”). This division of government into federal and state levels is the result of the federal constitution of Germany. Although the states how their own governments, administrations, and courts, sovereignty at international law is vested solely in the federation. The distribution of competencies and sovereign rights between the federation and the states is laid down by the Basic Law. The most important constitutional organs at the federal level are the Bundesrat (Federal Council), the Bundestag (Parliament), the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Government, and the Federal Constitutional Court. The administrative institutions of the federation are the federal ministries (government departments) The ministry responsible for spatial planning is the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

BundesbodenschutzgesetzFederal Soil Protection Act

Soil conservation includes all activities for conserving and protecting soils and soil functions under the general heading of nature conservation and environmental protection. The soil, which has to be regarded as the basis for all life and as an integral component of the natural environment, is threatened by a multitude of factors, e.g. the extraction of raw materials, land take, surface sealing, compaction, erosion and contamination by harmful substances. Special care needs to be taken to give the soil the protection it requires. The Federal Soil Protection Act aims to provide long-term protection for soil functions, and to restore these functions where they have been impaired. The Act includes provides for

• the prevention of harmful changes to the soil,

• the remediation of soil and contaminated sites, and of consequently contaminated water, and

• precautionary measures to avert adverse impacts on soil.

Under the Act, soil polluters and landowners can be required to take preventive measures and remediate contaminated sites. The pertinent provisions determine the parties responsible for remediation, define the powers of the public authorities, and regulate remediation planning.

BundeslandFederal state

The Federal Republic of Germany is composed of sixteen states (Länder, singular Land). The states are also commonly referred to as “Bundesländer” (“states of the federation”), although this term has no legal status. They are Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia, and the three city-states Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg. The city-states are both cities and states, and are not subdivided into municipalities. Other subdivisions of states, often with administrative autonomy are districts (Regierungsbezirke), counties, associations of municipalities, and municipalities. In keeping with the federal principle of government, the sixteen states have their own constitutions and territories, independent state authority encompassing legislature, executive, and judiciary.

The states perform the governmental functions assigned to them by the Basic Law and the state constitutions. The focus is less on independent legislation than on administration and on participation in federal legislation, which state governments exercise through the Federal Council  Bundesrat). In the system of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS) developed by Eurostat for us in Europe, the 16 states of Germany are NUTS 1 entities.

BundesnaturschutzgesetzFederal Nature Conservation Act

Nature conservation covers the whole range of measures to conserve and foster wild species of fauna and flora, their biotic communities and natural resources and to safeguard landscapes andsections of landscapes under natural conditions. There are a number of legal sources for nature conservation law, the most important being EU law, which has adopted the Washington Convention on Endangered Species for European Union, the Federal Nature Conservation Act, and state nature conservation acts. In accordance with Article 75 of the Basic Law, the Federal Nature Conservation Act have to be filled out by state legislation. The Federal Nature Conservation Act applies directly only in exceptional cases, e.g., for the purposes of species conservation, in enforcing the EU Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna and with respect to administrative and penal provisions. The Federal Nature Conservation Act defines the task of nature conservation and landscape management as to conserve, manage, develop nature and landscape both inside and outside the areas of human settlement in order to safeguard on a lasting basis the functioning of the ecosystem, the sustained availability of natural resources for human use, fauna and flora, and the diversity, characteristic features and beauty of nature and landscapes as resources for human life and for human recreation. This is also the function of protected areas that can be established pursuant to the Federal Nature Conservation Act. The most important categories of protected area are nature conservation areas, national parks, biosphere reserves, landscape conservation areas, and nature parks. They may overlap or even coincide. There are also natural monuments and protected components of landscapes. These are isolated or very restricted protected areas to individual creations of nature or elements of particular importance for the ecosystem and for enlivening and structuring the landscape.

BundesratFederal Council

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the term Bund (“Federation“) is used to refer to central government as opposed to the component states (“Länder”). This division of government into federal and state levels is the result of the federal constitution of Germany. Although the states how their own governments, administrations, and courts, sovereignty at international law is vested solely in the federation.

The distribution of competencies and sovereign rights between the federation and the states is laid down by the Basic Law.
The most important constitutional organs at the federal level are the Bundesrat (Federal Council ), the Bundestag (Parliament), the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Government, and the Federal Constitutional Court.

The administrative institutions of the federation are the federal ministries (government departments) The ministry responsible for spatial planning is the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.

BundesraumordnungFederal spatial planning (Bundesraumordnung)

Since the federalism reform of 2006, the Basic Law assigns competence in spatial planning to the federal government in the context of concurrent legislation (formerly framework legislation). Federal law settles the fundamental issues of spatial planning; the states can derogate from the provisions adopted. Under the Federal Spatial Planning Act as currently amended, the federation is not limited to formal, organisational arrangements but can also lay down substantive spatial planning principles constituting the general, superordinate model for spatial development, planning, and protection of the national territory. An amended version of the Federal Spatial Planning Act is planned following changes in the distribution of competencies between the federal and state governments under the federalism reform. Over and above the Federal Spatial Planning Act, the federation has legislative and administrative powers in a number of other fields of relevance for spatial planning at the national level (e.g., spatially relevant sectoral planning).

BVWPFTIP

Transport planning is a sectoral field of planning concerned with the causes of traffic, traffic and transport itself, and its effects. Transport is not an end in itself but a “subservient function.” The aims of transport planning is therefore to ensure that all regions are accessible thus enabling the entire population is enabled to participate in economic, societal, and cultural processes, and to avoid any traffic-related impairment of environment and the quality of life. Statutory objectives include the promotion of environmentally friendly modes of transport (public transport, cycling, pedestrian). Among the current challenges facing transport planning are continuing suburbanisation, separation of functions, and diminishing use density. Transport planning needs to integrated into overall spatial planning and coordinated with other sectoral planning. It takes place on all levels of planning, from the EU to the urban district level. In order to assess transport requirements and planning alternations, transport planners need comprehensive data.

Transport planning is the area of sectoral planning that attracts the greatest attention among the general public and politicians.
Coordinated, medium to longterm federal transport planning is laid down every 5 to 10 years in the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (FTIP). At the state level, public transport plans provide the basis for developing public transport.
Municipalities, regions, and states may draw up general transport plans (Generalverkehrsplan or Gesamtverkehrsplan) providing a strategy for dealing with all transport and traffic in the planning area. At the citywide level, transport development planning adopts a similarly comprehensive approach, albeit with greater regard for the social and environmental compatibility of urban transport and traffic.
The transport planning instruments used differ from project to project depending on their scale. They include thep lanning approval procedure and the urban land-use plan.