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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RaumbedeutsamkeitSpatial impact

The panoply of legal foundations governing planning is usually divided into two categories: general planning law (planning and building law), and sectoral planning law. Planning and building law contains provisions dealing with both cross-sectoral, mostly coordinating planning and with building. Sectoral planning law regulates the functions and responsibilities of sectoral authorities, and, in particular, formal planning approval procedures for installations or structures planned and realised by these authorities. Planning and building law includes spatial planning law and public building law. Spatial planning law governs comprehensive (i.e. suprasectoral) spatial planning beyond urban land-use planning at the federal, state and regional levels. One of the purposes of spatial planning law is to set principles and goals for structuring and developing an area, and for implementing such projects. It also coordinates the measures of spatial planning bodies. Planning with an impact on spatial structures include spatial structure plans, projects and other measures by means of which land is used or the spatial development or function of an area is influenced, including the use of earmarked public funds.

More specifically, spatial planning law is laid down:
• as federal spatial planning by the Federal Spatial Planning Act,
• as state and regional planning by the Federal Spatial Planning Act and, in particular, by state spatial planning acts.

Public building law can be divided into planning law (urban development law) and building regulations (building control law). Whereas planning law is governed by federal legislation, building regulations are governed by state legislation.

RaumbeobachtungSpatial monitoring

Spatial monitoring is the indicator-based, on-going, systematic, and comprehensive identification and description of spatial structural developments in such fields as demography, the economy, the labour market, agriculture, tourism, and the environment. As a basis for planning, spatial monitoring is an important and permanent task both at the national level (on-going spatial monitoring by the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR) and by most state and regional planning authorities. It provides planning bodies with early information on spatial processes affecting planning and on the effectiveness of measures that are already running.
Spatial monitoring addresses spatial policy and planning issues on the basis of regional statistics and area-related data. The results of spatial monitoring are presented in maps and diagrams, and increasingly in the form of digital spatial planning registers.

RaumentwicklungSpatial development

View in Compendium

“Raumordnung” (translated in the glossary as “spatial planning”), “Raumentwicklung” (spatial development), and “Raumplanung” (also literally spatial planning) are closely related concepts denoting deliberate human intervention in the development of an area (or “space”). The traditional term “Raumordnung” refers to the comprehensive, supra-local and superordinate tier of planning the structure and development of space. The attribute “comprehensive” emphasises the function of coordinating and harmonising those elements of the various types of sectoral planning which have spatial impacts. “Supra-local” indicates that the territory affected by this tier of planning extends beyond the boundaries and jurisdictions of local authorities. The “superordinate” character of spatial planning is a reflection of the power of central government to play an all-embracing and co-ordinating role with regard to planning by virtue of its sovereign powers for the entire national territory. As a consequence, all public planning authorities are subject to government authority and are thus bound by state spatial planning. “Raumentwicklung,” translated as “spatial development” has for some time now been used in place of “Raumordnung“ (e.g. European Spatial Development Concept). The more strongly formative, dynamic nature of the development concept is intended to underline that more than an “ordering” function is involved. In general usage, the term “Raumplanung,” also translated as spatial planning, refers quite broadly to the various actions taken within a particular territory with the purpose of affecting or influencing the spatial development of the community, of industry and commerce, and of the natural, built and social environment.
From the point of view of German planning law and administration, “Raumplanung” is the cover term which embraces three tiers of supra-sectoral planning: federal spatial planning (Bundes-Raumordnung); state spatial planning (Landesplanung), which includes regional planning (Regionalplanung); and urban land-use planning (Bauleitplanung). Taken together, these three planning tiers constitute a coherent spatial planning system. The supra-sectoral and co-ordinating remit which is a central aspect of the planning system means that “Raumplanung” has to be seen as legally, organisationally and materially distinct from spatially relevant sectoral planning.

Raumordnerischer VertragSpatial planning contract

A spatial planning contract is a coordination tool for balancing spatial planning requirements between state governments and one or more municipalities or between different municipalities. Spatial planning contracts provide a binding basis for preparing and implementing spatial structure plans and regional development strategies in harmony with local interests. Such contracts do not replace existing spatial planning tools but complement them in specific task areas where cooperation is paramount (cf. Article 13 ROG). The entire spectrum of spatial planning can be the subject of spatial planning contracts, but in practice the focus is on implementation aspects. For example, cooperation between municipalities in city networks is regulated by contract. Depending on the type of plan involved, contracts are referred to as state spatial planning contracts (landesplanerische Verträge) or regional planning contracts (regionalplanerische Verträge).

RaumordnungSpatial planning

View in Compendium

“Raumordnung” (translated in the glossary as “spatial planning”), “Raumentwicklung” (spatial development), and “Raumplanung” (also literally spatial planning) are closely related concepts denoting deliberate human intervention in the development of an area (or “space”). The traditional term “Raumordnung” refers to the comprehensive, supra-local and superordinate tier of planning the structure and development of space. The attribute “comprehensive” emphasises the function of co-ordinating and harmonising those elements of the various types of sectoral planning which have spatial impacts. “Supra-local” indicates that the territory affected by this tier of planning extends beyond the boundaries and jurisdictions of local authorities. The “superordinate” character of spatial planning is a reflection of the power of central government to play an all-embracing and co-ordinating role with regard to planning by virtue of its sovereign powers for the entire national territory. As a consequence, all public planning authorities are subject to government authority and are thus bound by state spatial planning. “Raumentwicklung,” translated as “spatial development” has for some time now been used in place of “Raumordnung“ (e.g. European Spatial Development Concept). The more strongly formative, dynamic nature of the development concept is intended to underline that more than an “ordering” function is involved. In general usage, the term “Raumplanung,” also translated as spatial planning, refers quite broadly to the various actions taken within a particular territory with the purpose of affecting or influencing the spatial development of the community, of industry and commerce, and of the natural, built and social environment.

From the point of view of German planning law and administration, “Raumplanung” is the cover term which embraces three tiers of supra-sectoral planning: federal spatial planning (Bundes-Raumordnung); state spatial planning (Landesplanung), which includes regional planning (Regionalplanung); and urban land-use planning (Bauleitplanung). Taken together, these three planning tiers constitute a coherent spatial planning system. The supra-sectoral and co-ordinating remit which is a central aspect of the planning system means that “Raumplanung” has to be seen as legally, organisationally and materially distinct from spatially relevant sectoral planning.

RaumordnungsgesetzFederal Spatial Planning Act

The Federal Spatial Planning Act is a federal act containing provisions on the conditions, functions, and guideline of spatial planning. Legislative competence is vested in the federation. The Federal Spatial Planning Act is divided into four parts: Part 1 contains all the general provisions which apply directly to spatial planning at the federal and state levels. They cover the function, guideline, and principles of spatial planning and definitions of key terms; they also establish the binding effect of spatial planning requirements. Part 2 assigns powers to the federation to pass framework legislation to guide spatial planning in the states, and, as well as setting out the rules to be observed in drawing up spatial structure plans, provides the instruments for securing spatial planning requirements. Being framework legislation, this part requires filling out by state law. Part 2 also establishes the power to issue ordinances. Part 3 regulates spatial planning at the federal level and introduces the duty of mutual notification and consultation between federal and state governments. Particular emphasis is given to the role played by federal-level spatial planning as the link between state spatial planning and EU planning. Part 4 covers the usual transitional and concluding provisions.

Raumordnungspolitischer HandlungsrahmenSpatial Planning Policy Framework for Action

A framework development plan is an informal master plan intended to eliminate or mitigate potential conflicts through cooperative processes in the run-up to legally binding planning. In the planning hierarchy, the framework development plan comes between the urban land-use plans – the preparatory landuse plan (Flächennutzungsplan) and the binding land-use plan or binding land-use plan (Bebauungsplan). It specifies development goals for an urban area. It sets design, organisational, and use objectives that are, however, not legally binding.

The early and comprehensive involvement of the parties affected by planning is sought to facilitate later implementation of the binding land-use plan and its integration in the urban development context. The framework development plan therefore provides a suitable framework and guidelines for flexible and citizen-focused planning. Moreover, the framework development plan helps higher public authorities in evaluating, supporting, and approving urban development planning and measures, and provides public agencies and investors with information about the intentions of the municipality.

Raumordnungspolitischer OrientierungsrahmenSpatial Planning Policy Guidelines

The Spatial Planning Policy Guidelines and the Framework for Action in Spatial Planning Policy are federal action plans.
The Spatial Planning Policy Guidelines were drawn up in 1993 by the then Federal Ministry for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development (now the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development) in collaboration with the states in the context of the Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning. It formulates five guiding principles for spatial development and a strategy for the whole of Germany, include the European frame of reference. The guidelines seek to promote equivalent living conditions throughout the country and integrate the fundamentally altered situation in Europe (completion of the internal market, the opening up of Eastern Europe) in a model for spatial development. Polycentric spatial and settlement structures are to be safeguarded and developed, and natural resources protected.
The Framework of Action in Spatial Planning Policy, which works out the guidelines in detail, was adopted by the Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning (MKRO) in 1996 as a medium-term working and action programme with 10 specific bundles of measures. The topics it addresses include regional development concepts, city networks, European metropolitan regions, strategies for structurally weak rural areas, and cross-border cooperation. The Spatial Planning Policy Guidelines and Framework for Action in Spatial Planning Policy have made important contributions to spatial development in Germany and Europe.
Since the conditions for spatial development change, guidelines and frameworks for action are constantly updated. For instance, in June 2006 the Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning adopted the “Guiding Principles and Strategies for Spatial Development in Germany”, setting new priorities in spatial planning for the coming years.

RaumordnungsprogrammSpatial 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) (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.

RaumordnungsrechtSpatial planning law (Raumordnungsrecht)

The panoply of legal foundations governing planning is usually divided into two categories: general planning law (planning and building law), and sectoral planning law. Planning and building law contains provisions dealing with both cross-sectoral, mostly coordinating planning and with building. Sectoral planning law regulates the functions and responsibilities of sectoral authorities, and, in particular, formal planning approval procedures for installations or structures planned and realised by these authorities. Planning and building law includes spatial planning law and public building law. Spatial planning law governs comprehensive (i.e. suprasectoral) spatial planning beyond urban land-use planning at the federal, state and regional levels. One of the purposes of spatial planning law is to set principles and goals for structuring and developing an area, and for implementing such projects. Ita lso coordinates the measures of spatial planning bodies.
Planning with an impact on spatial structures include spatial structure plans, projects and other measures by means of which land is used or the spatial development or function of an area is influenced, including the use of earmarked public funds.
More specifically, spatial planning law is laid down:
• as federal spatial planning by the Federal Spatial Planning Act,
• as state and regional planning by the Federal Spatial Planning Act and, in particular, by state spatial planning acts.

Public building law can be divided into planning law (urban development law) and building regulations (building control law). Whereas planning law is governed by federal legislation, building regulations are governed by state legislation.

RaumstrukturtypSpatial structure type

Spatial categories (spatial order categories, area types) are areas defined in terms of specific criteria in which comparable structures exist and where similar spatial planning goals are pursued. Spatial categories can be defined in terms of settlement structure, quality, or potential. There is no binding set of area types. Comprehensive spatial planning and state spatial planning define them for their own purposes. The administrative borders of territorial authorities (municipalities or counties) are generally taken, although more recent models use geographically more precise boundaries. The most important defining criteria are population density, centrality, and location. The numbers and names of categories vary.

In settlement structure approaches, for example, the spectrum runs from metropolitan area (agglomeration, conurbation) to rural area (sparsely populated region). Problemoriented approaches make use of spatial categories like “growth region” (area with good development prospects) or “structurally weak area” (region with adverse economic development).

RegionRegion

View in Compendium

The term "region" is used in a wide range of contexts. It denotes an area that forms a unit owing to special characteristics. A region is always a middle-sized spatial unit, that is to say part of a larger unit and at the same time the sum of a group of smaller units. Since the beginning of the 1990s, “region” has become a vogue word, and even in the field of spatial planning a number of institutions have come to use it with reference to themselves, e.g., counties, regional associations, administrative districts, the states of the federation at the EU level, and innumerable informal regional cooperation projects. German regional planning is understood as a level of planning situated between the state and municipal levels. The area covered by a regional plan, the planning region, is thus, as defined above, both part of a state and a sum of counties and municipalities. Planning regions are constituted in keeping with spatial planning requirements.

Theoretically they should correspond to the catchment area of a high-order centre (as special characteristic), but in practice they are the territories of the counties affected or of an administrative district (Regierungsbezirk). For reporting purposes, federal spatial planning defines socalled spatial planning regions, which, however, often coincide with those for regional planning. Communities linked by strong commuter traffic form a common labour-market region.

Regionaler RaumordnungsplanRegional spatial development plan

Regional plans or regional spatial structure – the terminology differs from state to state in Germany – are overall coordination plans for planning regions (sub-areas within a state). Regional plans are drawn up on the basis of the spatial structure plan for the territory of the given state ( state development plan). In preparing such plans, the regional planning authorities thus have the task of giving specific form to the spatial planning goals set for the particular region. As in the spatial structure plan for the entire state, the most important purpose of regional plans is to set concrete spatial planning goals. In written and graphic form, the regional plan outlines the spatial structure and development to be realised in attaining the goals of comprehensive spatial planning. Principles of spatial planning can also be laid down that supplement and concretise the provisions of the Federal Spatial Planning Act in keeping with the guideline of sustainable spatial development for the given planning area.

RegionalplanRegional plan

Regional plans or regional spatial structure – the terminology differs from state to state in Germany – are overall coordination plans for planning regions (sub-areas within a state). Regional plans are drawn up on the basis of the spatial structure plan for the territory of the given state (state development plan). In preparing such plans, the regional planning authorities thus have the task of giving specific form to the spatial planning goals set for the particular region. As in the spatial structure plan for the entire state, the most important purpose of regional plans is to set concrete spatial planning goals. In written and graphic form, the regional plan outlines the spatial structure and development to be realised in attaining the goals of comprehensive spatial planning. Principles of spatial planning can also be laid down that supplement and concretise the provisions of the Federal Spatial Planning Act in keeping with the guideline of sustainable spatial development for the given planning area.

RegionalplanungRegional planning

View in Compendium

Regional planning is the task of settling the desired future course of spatial structure and development for sections of a state (regions) by drawing up regional plans. Regional planning is thus spatial planning for subdivisions or regions of states. It gives concrete definition in the region to the spatial structure plan drawn up for the state as a whole, and specifies the regional goals of spatial planning. It therefore constitutes the vital link between the state’s supralocal perspectives for development and the specific local decisions land use in the context of urban land-use planning. This mediating function requires a difficult balance between overall governmental responsibility and local selfgovernment.
From a legal and substantive point of view, regional planning, being an element of state spatial planning, is a government task. But from an organisational and planning policy perspective, it is a joint task of state government and local self-government.
With the exception of the Saarland and the three citystates, all states in Germany have established autonomous spatial planning – regional planning – for parts of their territory (regions) pursuant to the Federal Spatial Planning Act and their own state spatial planning acts.

RegionalverbandRegional association

The organisation of regional planning is laid down by state spatial planning acts. There are two organisational models:
local and state regional planning. In states with local regional planning, municipalities and counties organise themselves in joint planning associations, which vary in name from state to state:

  • “(Regionaler) Planungsverband” (regional) planning association (Bavaria, Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania),
  • “Regionalverband” regional association (Baden-Württemberg),
  • “Regionale Planungsgemeinschaft ” regional planning community (Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt),
  • “Regionalrat” regional council (North Rhine-Westphalia),
  • “Regionalversammlung” regional assembly (Hessen).

The structure and composition of these bodies also differ. In states with state-level regional planning (Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland), the state spatial planning authorities, although responsible for regional planning, are required to involve local authorities and associations of local authorities in regional planning by means of a formal procedure. In Lower Saxony, the counties and county-free cities are responsible for regional planning authorities.

In Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia, the planning regions coincide with administrative districts (Regierungsbezirke), and planning bodies make use of district administrative agencies. The influence local authorities or the state can exert on regional planning depends on the organisational form.

reines WohngebietPurely 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.