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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Sicherungsinstrumente der Raumordnung und LandesplanungTools for securing and implementing spatial planning

To ensure the satisfactory performance of its functions, state spatial planning has a range of tools at its disposal over and above programmes and plans which it needs to secure, coordinate and enforce the requirements of state spatial planning. State spatial planning instruments (programmes and plans) are supplemented by a number of further instruments. They can be divided into three groups.

1. Administrative state spatial planning instruments are the compliance and adaptation requirement laid down in the Federal Spatial Planning Act, the Federal Building Code, and in state spatial planning acts. They include:

  • The prohibition of plans and measures conflicting with the goals of spatial planning (Section 12 of the Federal Spatial Planning Act and state spatial planning acts; the prohibition may be for a limited or unlimited period).
  • Adaptation and planning orders for urban land-use planning (obligation to adapt urban land-use plans to the goals of spatial planning, Section 1 (4) of the Federal Building Code and state spatial planning acts).
  • Derogation procedures (Section 11 of the Federal Spatial Planning Act, allowing deviation from the goals of spatial planning in individual cases).

2. State spatial planning coordination tools have the task of coordinating the numerous supralocal projects of the various public and private planning agencies that affect spatial structures:

  • Spatial planning procedure (see under this heading),
  • Simplified state spatial planning coordination procedures (differing from state to state),
  • State spatial planning report.

3. Obligation to provide information and reporting (“spatial planning through information”):

  • Notification and information duties (between federal and state governments and within states) ,
  • Spatial monitoring and spatial planning register (see spatial monitoring) ,
  • Spatial planning report / state development reports (reports on the status of spatial planning, goal attainment, spatial development trends and major planning projects).

In addition to these formal instruments for realising spatial planning there are informal tools such as regional development concepts/strategies, city networks, and contractual agreements for the preparation and realisation of spatial structure plans.

SiedlungsstrukturSettlement structure

Spatial structure results from the interplay of the entire range of factors which impact on the conditions which exist within an area, i.e., natural and administrative/political circumstances, places of work and housing, transport infrastructure, and leisure and recreational facilities. Spatial structure thus emerges out of the totality of conditions affecting living and working in the territory; to a great extent, these conditions are interdependent, thus influencing the development or structure of the area. Settlement structure is the quantitative and qualitative pattern of distribution of housing, places of work, and infrastructure within a certain area. The two terms are often combined to form a dual concept, “spatial and settlement structure”.

Soziale StadtSocially Integrative City

The “Socially Integrative City” is a programme launched by the federal and state governments in 1999 to tackle problems in deprived urban districts or in other areas of the municipal territory with special development needs. The overriding objective is to improve living conditions in districts with high concentrations of social and economic deprivation.

Strategic lower-order goals include bundling human and material (investment and non-investment) resources, activating and involving local residents and other local actors, and establishing and testing suitable new management systems and organisational structures. Local initiatives in the fields of employment, cultural and social work are given priority support. Within the neighbourhood concerned, special emphasis is placed on district or neighbourhood management. New organisational structures are tested, which develop complex, neighbourhood-related programmes and bundle existing resources, which include funding from other programmes, from the EU, from other policy areas, and from private actors.

Neighbourhood management contributes to strengthening communicative structures and tests new, “integrated” forms of policy at the local level. Given the favourable feedback from urban districts, the federal/state programme “Socially Integrative City” is regarded as a promising advance in urban development. In 2004 it was included in Federal Building Code under special urban planning legislation. Local authorities can now designate areas for “Socially Integrative City” support by simple resolution. The basis is provided by an local development concept prepared by the municipality with the collaboration of the affected parties, public authorities, and other public agencies. The concept must state in writing what goals and measures are to be pursued in the area in question.

StadtCity, town

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A city or town is an urban community to which the state has granted the right to bear the name. Unlike the status granted by historical city charters, this title has little legal significance. The threshold population for "Stadt" status in most states is about 10,000. However, the legal status of towns and cities in Germany varies considerably.

  • The “amtsangehörige Gemeinde” is a municipality forming part of an administrative association of municipalities. Such communities have transferred their autonomous rights almost entirely to the association (variously termed “Amt,” “Samtgemeinde,” “Verbandsgemeinde”). A "Stadt" belonging to such an association is the exception.
  • The “kreisangehörige Stadt” and “kreisangehörige Gemeinde”, are municipalities belonging to a county (Kreis or Landkreis), which performs many municipal functions on their behalf.
  • The “kreisangehörige Stadt” and “kreisangehörige Gemeinde” with special status. These muncipalities subsumed under counties can perform certain functions of the county if they have a certain population level (between 20,000 and 60,000, depending on the state). From state to state they bear different titles, such as "große Kreisstadt" (major county town), “Sonderstatusstadt” (special status city), and the like.
  • The “kreisfreie Stadt,” (county-free city, independent city, or county borough) a city that constitutes a county in its own right. In addition to municipal functions, it performs all county functions itself. The average minimum population for county-free cities is about 100,000, although the figure is much lower in some states and higher in others. 114 cities in German have county-free status (status 2003).
  • The “Stadtstaat” (city state), cities which are also states of the federation. In city states, the authorities handle not only municipal and county tasks but also those of a state government. Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen are city states.

In the system of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS) developed by Eurostat for use in Europe, the three city states in Germany are assigned to the NUTS classification level 1, and the 114 county-free cities to NUTS 3.

Stadt- und RaumentwicklungUrban and spatial development

“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 allembracing 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 thepurpose of affecting or influencing the spatialdevelopment 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 suprasectoral 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 coordinating 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.

Stadt- und RegionalmarketingUrban/city marketing and regional marketing

The terms urban or city marketing and regional marketing (sometimes referred to together as planning marketing) denotes a new strategy under which the marketing approach typical in the commercial sector – and with it the associated methods of corporate management – is applied to regional planning and to local authority planning and planning policy. It makes use of marketing tools like market analysis, marketing strategies, and the orientation of products and services on current and future demand. Characteristic features of this approach include thinking in terms of “target groups”, and “customer orientation”, the “customers” here being citizens, businesses, professional associations etc., i.e. the addressees of public planning policy.

In local-authority planning and planning policy, municipalities turn to urban marketing in their endeavour to gain a competitive edge over other municipalities. As far as regions are concerned, regional marketing involves business attraction, umbrella marketing for already established firms, and for territorial authorities in connection with tourism. Regional marketing is thus more difficult and limited in scope than city marketing, since competing interests within the region have to be reduced to a common denominator and marketed externally as a whole.

Städtebauliche EntwicklungsmaßnahmeUrban development measure

The purpose of urban development measures under the Federal Building Code is to develop urban districts or other parts of the municipal territory in keeping with their particular significance for urban development within the municipality, or in accordance with the desired development of the state district or the region, or to make such areas available for new development within the framework of urban reorganisation. Measures of this type are to serve the public interest, particularly in meeting the demand for housing and employment, for public amenities and associated facilities, and in returning derelict land to productive use. Moreover, urban development measures may only be undertaken where there is a public interest in uniform development and speedy implementation. By resolution of the local council (the urban development statute), the municipality may formally designate an area in which urban development measures are to be implemented as an urban development zone. The municipality is then required to draw up binding land-use plans for area without delay and to undertake all of the measures required to implement development.

Städtebaulicher RahmenplanFramework development plan

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 land-use plan (Flächennutzungsplan) and the 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.

Städtebaulicher VertragUrban development contract

The term urban development contract is applied to a range of contractual agreements under urban development or planning law. The subject of an urban development contract can, for example, be the preparation and implementation of urban development measures by, and at the expense of, the private party to the contract. Measures of this type might include land reallocation or soil decontamination. A further possible subject for an urban development contract could the promotion and securing of urban land-use planning aims, with regard, for example, to the use of a property, to impact mitigation measures, or to meeting the housing needs of specific groups of the population. The municipality and a private partner may also enter into an urban development contract to settle the assumption of costs or other liabilities which the municipality has incurred or expects to incur in respect of urban development measures which are prerequisites or direct consequences of the planned development project (e.g. providing the site). In recent years, urbandevelopment contracts have become an important supplementary tool in urban land-use planning, and have to some extent superseded classical governmental measures like bye-laws (or municipal statutes). Urban development contracts are regulated by the Federal Building Code (Sections 11, 124).

Städtebauliches GebotUrban-development enforcement orders

An urban development enforcement order is a local authority provision obliging a property owner to undertake a building measure. The Federal Building Code (Sections 172, 176-179) lists the following urban-development enforcement orders: preservation order, building order, modernisation and refurbishment order, planting order, and dedevelopment and de-sealing order (formerly demolition order. The prerequisite for issuing orders of this type as instruments to support implementation of a binding land-use plan is that there is an urgent need for such measures on urban development grounds. The measures are to be discussed beforehand with the affected owners, tenants, and leaseholders. They are, however, obliged to tolerate the measures, but legal remedies are available to them which can delay the actual implementation of the order for years. As a rule the local authority will therefore seek a solution acceptable to all sides before they institute administrative execution proceedings.

StädtenetzCity network

A city network is a voluntary cooperative grouping on an equal footing of cities in a region or neighbouring regions. The prime aim is to optimise the efficient use of the partners’ endogenous potentials. Central places provide the basis for city networks. To this extent, city networks complement existing planning elements. They can make an important contribution to making planning both more flexible and more oriented towards action and implementation. It is helpful if implementation-oriented objectives are set in cooperation for specific core tasks with spatial impacts in the region.

Two types of city network are distinguished. The first type is the interregional network based on functional commonalities, in which geographical proximity is not decisive. The aims of this type of network might include to join forces to assert common interests in an increasingly integrated Europe, whilst guarding their separate identities, and developing joint strategies for certain policy areas (e.g. university research, technology transfer, city marketing and culture).

The second type is the intraregional network, where cooperation is based on geographical proximity. Networks of this type aim to provide a common focus for the talents and locational assets which exist within a coherent region, and to develop a sense of common regional identity, thereby reducing the rivalry which frequently exists among local authorities, achieving cost savings and exploiting synergies, and establishing a joint regional policy. Under Section 13 of the Federal Spatial Planning Act, cooperation between local authorities must be supported in order to promote developments in individual regions (city networks).

StadtentwicklungsplanungUrban development planning

Urban development planning is that part of the planning activities of a municipality which is concerned with settling development aims either for the entire municipal territory or for specific sections of it. It thus sets the framework for urban development suited to meeting the social, cultural and economic needs of the community. This framework includes capital investment on the part of the municipality, where this has implications for spatial development, and lays down the sequence and order of priority. Urban development planning also serves to draw together and co-ordinate the various sectoral plans and to focus them on one common goal. It is this cross-sectoral dimension of urban development planning that sets it apart from urban land-use planning, the role of which is limited to preparing and steering the use of land in the municipal territory for building or for other purposes. Unlike urban land-use planning, urban development planning does not focus on the graphical presentation of future spatial developments but on mostly verbal statements about the goals and means of steering development. Urban development planning is not governed by federal law; essentially it is up to the municipalities to decide informally and at their own discretion whether to make use of this planning instrument.

Concepts are often developed using dialogue-oriented procedures like urban forums, planning and future search workshops, and public urban development discussions. They are accordingly less regulatory than process and procedure-oriented. Such concepts represent no all-embracing claim to control and implementation. They provide a basis for reaching agreement on objectives and guiding principles and a matrix for evaluating individual planning steps and projects. The comprehensive integrated urban development concepts and urban development concepts defining the goals of development in shrinking communities are particularly important in the context of urban redevelopment.

Stadterneuerung, DorferneuerungUrban renewal and village renewal

The aim of urban and village renewal is to preserve, renew and revitalise communities. Such measures strive to improve and adjust the settlement and built structure of all sections of the national territory, both to provide the general population with healthy living and working conditions and to meet changing social, hygienic, economic and cultural requirements. They also play an important part in improving economic and agricultural structure, satisfying conservation requirements, improving the visual quality of localities and landscape, and in the conservation of historic monuments. Urban rehabilitation instruments can be used for urban renewal. Some states have introduced special rules for village renewal (village renewal guidelines) relating to such matters as the preparation, implementation, and promotion of village development and renewal.

StadtplanungUrban/town planning

Urban or town planning is control of the development of land allocation and distribution, land use, locational distribution, built development, provision of local public infrastructure, and the use of open spaces in the city, as well as the targeted coordination of the various private and public building activities and demand for use within the municipal territory. The purpose of urban planning is to secure and develop the quality of local living and working conditions in their social, economic dimensions, with respect to the built environment, and to cultural and ecological considerations, and it thus a key task of local self-government.

The term urban or town planning clearly subsumes a number of other planning categories, e.g., urban land-use planning, urban rehabilitation, and urban development planning. It should, however, be added that there is no definitive legal definition of the German term “Stadtplanung” (urban or town planning). It is often used synonymously with “Städtebau,” also usually translated as “urban planning”.

StadtregionUrban region

"Stadtregion” or urban region is the term applied to the core of a conurbation, consisting of a core city and surrounding suburban communities (Umland or urban field). In contrast to the broader concepts agglomeration, conurbation, or metropolitan region (german: Agglomeration, Ballungsraum, Metropolregion), the urban region does not include rural peripheral areas but only the immediate, heavily built-up surroundings of the core city.

Unlike “Verdichtungsraum” (sometimes translated as “urban concentration”) which is a spatial planning category and as such is defined in the relevant plans, “urban region” is a statistical concept. It is also often used in connection with the city/environs issue, where it denotes the sum of city and environs, i.e., the spatial frame of reference of the conflict. Suburbanisation continues to shift the focus of residential, industrial and commercial development within urban regions from central cities to the suburbs.

StadtteilDistrict (municipal/urban)

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.

StadtumbauUrban redevelopment

The term “Stadtumbau” (urban redevelopment) as used in Germany since the 1990s refers to adjustment of existing communities to urban shrinkage with respect to urban design, social structures, municipal and financial policy, and infrastructure. Changes in needs and supply in all areas of life have been caused by a decline in the German population due to outmigration and low birth rates. The aim of urban redevelopment in this sense is to maintain, strengthen, and develop the functional and performance capacity of cities under changing conditions. For this purpose, the federal government initiated the urban development promotion programme Urban Redevelopment East (Stadtumbau Ost) in 2002 and a comparable programme Urban Redevelopment West for West Germany in 2004. Urban redevelopment measures are introduced in areas severely affected by the loss of urban functions, where adjustments are needed to produce sustainable urban structures. Such measures are particularly needed in areas where a persistent surplus of physical structures, especially housing, has developed or is anticipated. The most important measures include the development and redesign of major housing estates on the urban fringe built between the 1960s and the 1980s, revitalisation of city centres, and the conversion of previously developed in-centre and edge-city sites. Measures and funding are contingent on implementation-oriented, citywide development concepts providing a basis on which to plan and steer regeneration. In 2004, urban redevelopment was included in the Federal Building Code under special urban planning legislation.

Strategische PlanungStrategic planning

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Many cities face planning tasks of unaccustomed dimensions owing to economic and societal structural change. These new challenges have affected not only concepts but also methods in urban planning. The planning hierarchy of classical urban land-use planning has given way to informal and strategic approaches. The classical tools are no longer expected to perform a general lead function in restructuring. In many places it has been superseded by “strategic planning,” under which objectives are progressively implemented through sets of measures at various levels of planning and over various time horizons. The scope of strategic plans varies and they combine planning steps on several levels.

The present concentration of urban development processes on strategically important projects results from the experience that comprehensive, hierarchical planning in successive, chronological steps cannot do justice to current requirements and conditions. From a strategic point of view, simultaneity and interaction between concept and project development are important. This means that guiding concepts and projects are interdependent, can be both consequence and cause. Especially when public finances are tight, it has proved necessary to set clear temporal and spatial priorities for the implementation of planning concepts.

Strategische UmweltprüfungStrategic Environmental Assessment

Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of June 27th 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment defines environmental assessment as the preparation of an environmental report, the carrying out of consultations, the taking into account of the environmental report and the results of the consultations in decision-making and the provision of information on the decision in accordance with relevant provisions of the Directive. The Directive was to be transposed into national law by member states by July 20th 2004. In Germany, it was transposed by the EAG Bau (European Law Adaptation Act for the Construction Sector) for urban land-use planning and spatial planning and by the SUPG (Act on the Introduction of Strategic Environmental Assessment and Implementation of Directive 2001/42/EG) for other categories of planning.

The key elements in environmental assessment are the identification, description, and evaluation of the considerable environmental impacts that ensue from the implementation of planning. They include effects on biodiversity, population, human health, fauna, flora, soil, water, air, climatic factors, material assets, cultural heritage including architectural and archaeological heritage, landscape, and on interaction between the factors mentioned. An environmental report is required to provide more detailed information on environmental impacts. The pertinent public authorities are to be consulted on the extent and depth of environmental assessment. Furthermore, public authorities and the public at large are to be given the opportunity to state their views on the draft plan and on the accompanying environmental report. Both the environmental report and comments are to be taken into account in preparing and adopting the plan. Over and above this, environmental assessment has no binding effect. In Germany, environmental assessment is required for all spatial structure plans, and for preparatory and binding land-use plans.

Suburbanisierung, ZersiedlungSuburbanisation, urban sprawl

Suburbanisation is the process by which a population and jobs shift from the core city of an urban region to outlying areas. Suburbanisation has taken place in the major cities of the Western world in several waves since the 19th century. It is closely associated with shifts in transport modes from public transport to private motorisation and with socio-spatial segregation processes. Owing to less dense land use in suburban residential, commercial, and industrial locations, suburbanisation exacerbates land consumption, urban sprawl, and the proliferation of private motorised transport. Whereas during the suburbanisation wave from about 1960 in western Germany the exodus of the urban population preceded the departure of commerce and industry from the core city, “catch-up” suburbanisation in East Germany from 1990 onwards was led by large-scale retail establishments before residential outmigration occurred. In recent decades, suburbanisation, especially as far as housing is concerned, has tended to shift to rural areas increasingly distant from cities. This process is termed “exurbanisation” or “peri-urbanisation”.