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.


OberzentrumHigher-order centre

The term goes back to the central places theory: higher order centres are designated by state spatial planning and meet demanding, specialised requirements of the population in the extended catchment area (technical colleges / universities, specialised clinics, large department stores, etc.). High-order centres also have a greater supply of highly qualified and skilled labour.

öffentliche|r PlanungsträgerPublic planning agency/authority

Planning agencies are institutions vested with competence for planning at the various levels of comprehensive and sectoral planning by federal or state law. Public planning authorities are the public authorities and agencies responsible for spatial planning and which thus determine the use of land and influence the spatial development of an area.

ÖffentlichkeitsbeteiligungPublic participation

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Participation in spatial planning by the general public is intended to ensure that all conceivable interests are given due regard, and takes into account that the addressees of planning are more likely to accept it if they can identify with its content. The public can be involved in many ways. Participation in urban land-use planning is stipulated in the Federal Building Code, and public involvement in state and regional planning is required under the Federal Spatial Planning Act and state spatial planning acts. Moreover, the public is required to be involved in spatial planning in the context of environmental assessment (EA) (Federal Building Code, Federal Spatial Planning Act) and environmental impact assessment (EIA). Local authorities are required to advertise the aims and purposes of planning measures and to provide opportunities for the general public to be heard.

Participation takes place in two stages. The first 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 reorganisation or development of the planning area, and of the foreseeable impacts of the plan; at this point members of the public are to be given the opportunity to express their views and to gain further clarification. In the second stage, draft plans and 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.

In state and regional planning, the states determine in their state spatial planning acts whether and to what extent the public is to be involved in preparing spatial structure plans and in spatial planning procedures. Participation is most intensive in informal planning approaches.