Abstract judicial review

Judicial review proceedings are undertaken by the courts on request. A distinction is made between abstract judicial review, in which the validity of a law is examined independent from concrete cases, and concrete judicial review in which the court rules on the validity of the norm in examining the case at hand. Judicial review addresses not only issues of material appropriateness but also compliance with superordinate laws and regulations.

The plaintiff is entitled to take action only if directly affected. Private persons cannot therefore take legal action against spatial structure plans, since such plans cannot infringe individual rights under public law because, unlike binding land-use plans, they do not involve any direct reorganisation of land holdings. Potential plaintiffs are territorial authorities like municipalities, because they are bound by spatial structure planning.

Administrative association

Such associations group small municipalities with fewer than 3000 to 5000 inhabitants in order to enhance the administrative capability of the communities. The groupings differ in name from state to state: “Verwaltungsgemeinschaft,” “Samtgemeinde,” “Amt.” The decision-making bodies of these associations are termed association councils (“Gemeinschaftsräte”), composed of the mayors and representatives of the municipal councils of member municipalities.

Agglomeration, agglomeration area

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An (urban) agglomeration (largely synonymous with conurbation, metropolitan area) is a concentration of settlements consisting of interlinked and interdependent communities distinguished from surrounding areas by greater settlement density and a higher proportion of built development. As a rule, agglomerations form around one or more core cities surrounded by heavily built-up inner rings of suburbs and geographically more extensive, partly rural catchment areas.

The core or central city with the suburban belt is referred to as an urban region. Major cities with international status and their extensive catchment areas are termed metropolitan regions. With a high concentration of housing and workplaces, urban agglomerations drive economic development and are loci of cultural life. They are accordingly important for the country as a whole. In terms of spatial category, agglomerations or conurbations are the type of area with the highest use density, being the opposite pole to sparsely population rural areas. Communication axes between agglomerations, which partly traverse rural areas, are termed corridors.

Approval authority

Permission for the construction, alteration, demolition, or conversion of a physical structure is required from the competent authority. It must be granted on application by the project sponsor if there is no legal impediment to the project. Building permission is therefore strictly governed by planning laws and regulations and other relevant legislation, for instance that relating to pollution and water. In individual cases, the building authorities may use its discretion to allow exceptions, exemptions or derogations. In most cases the competent authorities are county or municipal building inspectorates referred to variously as “Bauordnungsamt” or “Bauaufsichtsamt.” The details of application and permission procedures are set forth in state building regulations.


Important elements in spatial planning, axes are constituted by a concentration of transport and supply routes (linear infrastructure) and a elatively close succession of development centres and central places. Depending on physical features and functions, a distinction is made between communications axes (supralocal axes) and settlement axes. Communications axes connect differently ranking central places and offer locational advantages at transport interchanges or nodes.

Supralocal axes are national or European communication axes. Settlement axes are axes in agglomerations formed by a close succession of settlements along the routes of existing or planned publictransport services. They do not necessarily form an unbroken ribbon of development but can be separated by open spaces. Spatial planning attempts to concentrate development along settlement axes to exploit existing public transport services more effectively and to preserve open spaces between axes.