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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EignungsgebietSuitable area for development

The designation of certain sites outside the areas covered by a binding land-use plans as areas suitable for development is a means of exerting control over spatially relevant development measures (spatially relevant projects, plans and measures) in what in planning law is termed the outer zone by declaring certain areas within a region as suitable areas for certain types of development. The implication of such a designation is that such measures will in general not be permitted outside these areas. This is the case for privileged undertakings in the outer zone, e.g., the planning and construction of wind farms.

The designation of certain areas as suitable areas for development invokes the legally binding force of spatial planning goals. In this, suitable development areas differ from priority and reserve areas, where a certain use is granted privileged status over others without being prohibited outside the designated area.


Expropriation is the complete or partial removal of property rights, the right to own property and the possibility of expropriation being laid down by the Basic Law. Expropriation for urban development purposes is governed by the Federal Building Code. It is the last resort available to a municipality when it requires a particular property, or specific rights attaching to a property in order to attain its urban development aims, and the owner is not prepared to sell the property or to grant the rights in question.

The purposes for which the municipality is allowed to resort to expropriation are listed in full in the Federal Building Code. Expropriation is permissible only in the public interest and where the purpose to be served cannot reasonably be achieved by any other means. Under the Basic Law, expropriation may be ordered only by law or pursuant to a law, the nature and level of compensation also being governed by law. The rules are set out in the Federal Building Code. A claim for compensation may be made by anyone whose rights have been adversely affected by expropriation and who has suffered a financial loss. The Federal Building Code provides three types of compensation: in the form of money, in the form of land, and by the granting of other rights.

Erfordernisse der RaumordnungSpatial planning requirements

In state and regional planning, spatial planning requirements are laid down in spatial structure plans in the form of texts and drawings. The term covers the goals, principles, and other requirements of spatial planning. According to the Federal Spatial Planning Act, “other equirements” are:

  • regional planning goals in the process of being established,
  • results of formal state spatial planning procedures such spatial planning procedures, and
  • state government opinions.

The goals, principles, and other requirements of spatial planning differ in their binding force as laid down by the Federal Spatial Planning Act. The goals of spatial planning must be strictly observed by all actors mentioned by the Federal Spatial Planning Act (especially public authorities and planning bodies) in all spatially relevant planning and activities. This requirement of compliance prevents the circumvention of spatial planning goals in the course of balancing interests or by discretionary decisions. The principles of spatial planning and other spatial planning requirements are to be observed in planning and administrative decisions in weighing up interests or in making discretionary decisions in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.

ErschließungProvision of local public infrastructure

Even if all other planning regulations are complied with, development projects can be permitted only where there is certainty that the site will be properly serviced and integrated by the provision of the necessary public infrastructure. The infrastructure required includes roads and utilities (electricity, water, sewage). Responsibility for the provision of the necessary infrastructure rests with the municipality. This financial burden on municipalities is eased by service connection charges payable by property owners to share the cost of land improvement for initial provision, particularly of vehicular and pedestrian infrastructure (roads, pathways, squares). The Federal Building Code does not provide for property owners to bear any of the costs of servicing the land, i.e. connecting it to utilities; this may, however, be required under state legislation. Under section 124 of the Federal Building Code, the municipality may contract out land improvement to third parties.

EvaluationEvaluation, audit

Evaluation is generally seen as a matter of auditing plans, programmes, measures and tools with regard to specific criteria, such as content, procedures, outcomes, and costs. The principle focus is usually on determining whether (or to what degree) targets have been met (target performance comparisons, assessing the potential for and direction of further development) and on examining cause/effect relationships (effect chains, case studies, time series, etc.). In both the theory and practice of planning, the prime interest is in assessing the effectiveness of plans, programmes and procedures and in the efficiency of planning measures.