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 k├Ânnen sie vom deutschen Begriff ausgehend suchen.


Equivalence of living conditionsGleichwertigkeit der Lebensbedingungen

View in Compendium

The establishment of equivalent living conditions is a prime guideline of federal and state government in the balanced development of their respective territories, and is entrenched as such in Section 1 (2) of the Federal Spatial Planning Act. The aim is to create and maintain standards of living throughout the country which, in keeping with the local context, are equivalent in value. Equivalent does not mean identical, which is neither practicable nor reasonable. Living conditions involve all spheres of life and hence all infrastructure and economic development. In effect, the policy of equivalent living conditions primarily benefits rural areas, since there is usually a greater backlog of structural development in the country than in urban areas. Basically, however, problematic structures can require action to ensure equivalent living conditions in urban agglomerations, too. The discussion on upholding the principle at a time when public resources are limited is one of the chief current issues in spatial planning. The alternative under debate is to concentrate support in growth cores whose dynamics spread to peripheral regions, thus benefiting them indirectly.

Evaluation, auditEvaluation

Evaluation is generally seen as a matter of auditing plans, programmes, measures and tools with regard to specific criteria, such as content, procedures, outcomes, and costs. The principle focus is usually on determining whether (or to what degree) targets have been met (target performance comparisons, assessing the potential for and direction of further development) and on examining cause/effect relationships (effect chains, case studies, time series, etc.). In both the theory and practice of planning, the prime interest is in assessing the effectiveness of plans, programmes and procedures and in the efficiency of planning measures.


Expropriation is the complete or partial removal of property rights, the right to own property and the possibility of expropriation being laid down by the Basic Law. Expropriation for urban development purposes is governed by the Federal Building Code. It is the last resort available to a municipality when it requires a particular property, or specific rights attaching to a property in order to attain its urban development aims, and the owner is not prepared to sell the property or to grant the rights in question.

The purposes for which the municipality is allowed to resort to expropriation are listed in full in the Federal Building Code. Expropriation is permissible only in the public interest and where the purpose to be served cannot reasonably be achieved by any other means. Under the Basic Law, expropriation may be ordered only by law or pursuant to a law, the nature and level of compensation also being governed by law. The rules are set out in the Federal Building Code. A claim for compensation may be made by anyone whose rights have been adversely affected by expropriation and who has suffered a financial loss. The Federal Building Code provides three types of compensation: in the form of money, in the form of land, and by the granting of other rights.