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.



The term “Stadteil” refers to a subdivision of a town or city. A number of meanings can be distinguished. In the narrower, administrative sense, “Stadtteil” or “Ortsteil” refers to a district officially designated by the municipality with a name of its own. In many cases the area in question was formerly an independent municipality that has become part of the present municipality by annexation or merger. In many states, representative assemblies can be elected in districts. Furthermore, a district can constitute a planning or statistical spatial unit. In some states in Germany, districts in large cities are integrated into “Stadtbezirke,” superordinate districts which general have a district assembly and administration. Depending on the local government constitution of each state, the powers vested in districts differ considerably.

“Quartier,” “Stadtviertel,” and “Kiez,” in contrast, are informal terms for limited, spatially and socially coherent urban areas best described in English as “neighbourhoods.” Their boundaries are flexible, depending as they do on the perception of residents, and do not correspond to official district boundaries. Such areas defined more in terms of functional criteria are the areas of application for local development promotion programmes such as the “Socially Integrative City” and neighbourhood management.