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.

Hier können sie vom deutschen Begriff ausgehend suchen.


LandesplanungState spatial planning

The legal framework for state spatial planning is set by the Federal Spatial Planning Act (ROG), with state-specific regulation being provided by state spatial planning acts. State spatial planning is carried out by the administrative authorities in the states. Its task is to prepare comprehensive, superordinate spatial structure plans in conformity with the principles of spatial planning and to coordinate the relevant planning and measures. State spatial planning thus involves both planning functions proper as well as coordination and safeguards. Legal instruments are available for both fields.

LandesplanungsbehördeState spatial planning authorithy

State spatial planning authorities are charged with the implementaion of spatial planning law. In all states the highest state spatial planning authority is the relevant ministry. The highest state spatial planning authorities of the states together with the federal ministry responsible for spatial planning constitute the standing Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning (MKRO). The state spatial planning authorities prepare spatial structure plans for the state territory (termed either state development plan or programme). State spatial planning is governed by state spatial planning acts.

In addition to the highest state spatial planning authorities at government level in the states, there are regional and county planning authorities. In some states there are is a two-tier structure. Subordinate state spatial planning authorities have consultative and supervisory functions, as well as being required to inform and notify superior authorities. State spatial planning authorities also coordinate the work of various planning bodies, for example, in spatial planning procedures.

LandesplanungsgesetzeState spatial planning acts

State spatial planning acts govern spatial planning within their own territories on the basis of the Federal Spatial Planning Act. All states – except the city-states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg – have enacted state spatial planning acts, however they differ in many aspects. Some states restrict the scope of legislation to organisational matters and instruments; others go beyond this minimum content to include substantive provisions in the form of spatial planning principles.

LandesraumordnungsprogrammState Spatial Planning Programme

State development plans outline the desired spatial and structural development for the territory of the state. The name given such plans varies from state to state. They are termed state development plan (Landesentwicklungsplan), state spatial planning programme (Landesraumordungsprogramm), state development programme (Landesentwicklungsprogramm), etc. Plans for subdivisions of states (regions) are referred to as regional spatial structure plans (regionaler Raumordungsplan) or regional plans (Regionalplan) (see regional plan).
Procedures for preparing spatial structure plans and their content differ widely from state to state. In 1998, the Federal Spatial Planning Act therefore laid down general rules for state development plans. For instance, they are required to address settlement and open-space structures and infrastructure, and sectoral planning in the fields of the environment, transport, and pollution control.

Landkreis, KreisCounty

A county (Landkreis or Kreis) is a territorial authority in the form of a local government association composed of a number of municipalities. Counties have the right to manage all the affairs of the local community on their own responsibility within the limits set by law (self-government tasks), and perform functions that are beyond the administrative and financial capacity of member municipalities. Counties also perform governmental functions assigned to them by law (delegated functions). From the spatial planning point of view, for example, they include functions governed by building law and nature conservation law. Counties are thus both associations of municipalities and lower governmental administrative authorities. Matters falling within the purview of local government autonomy are decided by a directly elected assembly, the county council (Kreistag). The administrative head of the county is a directly elected chief executive, the “Landrat.” The functions of counties and their relations with state and municipalities are regulated by state statute. Counties finance themselves by means of a levy (county levy) on member municipalities.

In the system of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS) developed by Eurostat for use in Europe, the 439 counties in Germany are assigned to the NUTS 3 classification level.

LandschaftsplanungLandscape planning

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Landscape planning was formally introduced as at the federal level in 1976 in the Federal Nature Conservation Act on the model of nature conservation legislation already in force in a number of states. It is a cross-sectional planning instrument for attaining the goals of nature conservation and landscape management in both settled and non-settled areas. Like comprehensive spatial planning, landscape planning covers the entire territory, being divided into three levels:

  1. landscape programme (dealing with the territory of a state),
  2. landscape outline plan (dealing with a region),
  3. landscape plan (dealing with the territory of a municipality).

The term “landscape planning” is also used to refer to the various processes leading to the production of a landscape programme, a landscape outline plan, or a landscape plan. The landscape programme covers the entire territory of a state and sets out supra-local requirements and the measures to be undertaken in the interests of nature conservation and landscape management in accordance with the principles and goals of spatial planning. However, the Federal Nature Conservation Act allows a good deal of latitude regarding the precise manner in which landscape planning is to be organised; this has in fact allowed some states (including the city-states) to dispense with separate landscape programmes.

The landscape programme covers sections of the state territory (regions), setting out supra-local requirements and the measures to be undertaken in the interests of nature conservation and landscape management in accordance with the goals of spatial planning. The landscape plan, which consists of textual and a cartographic components, lays down local requirements and the measures for attaining the goals of nature conservation and landscape management. Landscape plans are to be prepared whenever and wherever this is in the interests of nature conservation and landscape management. Under the Federal Nature Conservation Act, landscape plans are required to describe and assess the current and desirable future state of nature and landscapes and to lay down the necessary measures to be taken. In preparing land-use plans, full account has to be taken of landscape plans during weighing public and private interests stipulated for urban land-use plans.

Leitbilder der RaumentwicklungGuiding principles for spatial development

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Pursuant to the Federal Spatial Planning Act and in collaboration with state spatial planning authorities, the competent federal ministry develops guiding principles on the basis of spatial structure plans for the spatial development of the country as a whole or for areas extending beyond the borders of single states. These guiding principles are informal in nature and are intended to help specify the principles of spatial planning with regard to territorial and substantive scope for the purpose of coordinating federal government and EU planning and activities. In a discussion process, the guiding principles are to be adapted and updated to satisfy current conditions. Guiding principles have been formulated and cartographically visualised in, for example, the 1993 “Guidelines for Regional Policy” and the 1996 “Framework for Action in Spatial Planning Policy.“ In June, 2006, the Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning (MKRO) adopted the “Guiding Principles and Strategies for Spatial Development in Germany” to provide guidance for joint federal/state action. The three guiding principles of “growth and innovation”, “securing the provision of essential public services”, and “conserving resources, developing cultural landscapes” describe spatial planning priorities for the coming years.

Leitbilder der StadtentwicklungModels for urban development

Models for urban development are projections; they formulate objectives and principles for action without prescribing the final result. They are informal tools for orientation, coordination, and motivation. They come in various forms: programmes and manifestos, statements of principle and general plans, quality standards and procedural concepts.

Such models have been an explicit subject of debate in Germany only since the Second World War, where the term arose in connection with the reconstruction of war-damaged cities. Since the mid-1990s, the issue of models has experienced a renaissance after attracting little attention during the 1970s and 1980s. This new boom is the result of economic and societal structural changes and the uncertain prospects they have engendered. The urban development models developed during the first years of the Federal Republic were still authoritarian and normative. Present-day models are based on planning policy discourse between societal actors.

Models are now being generated or relaunched at all levels of spatial planning – district, city, and region (→ guiding principles for spatial development). City authorities use models as tools for clarifying fundamental development perspectives and for positioning themselves in the European city network. Furthermore, precise models provide the basis for many urban marketing concepts, which a large number of cities in the 1990s hoped would bring results in intermunicipal competition. One key question is whether the model of the European city can still point the way for urban development and urban policy. Since models reflect points of view, values, and the state of the art of the period when they are developed, they can apply only for a limited period of time. They have to be updated and adapted to meet changing conditions and values. Communication is the focus. The loss of certainty about the future has brought greater openness in thinking about what is desirable, and greater willingness to take risks and to make more radical course corrections.