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.


Goals of spatial planningZiele der Raumordnung

Together with the spatial planning clauses, the goals of spatial planning constitute the most important tool for enforcing supra-local interests in spatial planning. As defined by the Federal Spatial Planning Act, they are binding stipulations on the development, structure and securing of a defined area, as contained in spatial structure plans in the form of definitive spatial and substantive designations by state or regional planning authorities expressed in textual and cartographic form. Spatial planning goals are to be identified as such in the spatial structure plan and must be strictly complied with in planning and measures affecting spatial structures by all public bodies and planning authorities. This duty of compliance excludes the circumvention of spatial planning goals on the basis of other considerations.

Green beltGrünzug

Green belts and smaller, supplementary green breaks and divides are tools in regional planning to safeguard open spaces. A regional green belt is a continuous expanse of land reserved for ecological functions or recreational purposes and accordingly forbidden for settlement or other functionally incompatible uses. Green breaks or divides are smaller protected open spaces areas close to settlements to be kept free of development for local recreational purposes and in order to break up densely built-up areas. Green breaks should link up with the open countryside and act as a climatic corridor and habitat, as both refuge and exchange area for plants and animals.

Green structures policy and green structures planGrünordnung und Grünordnungplan

Green structures policy (also referred to as "green spaces policy") are framed by local authorities and encompass the entire range of landscape management and nature conservation measures for cities, towns, and villages. In the framework of urban development, the purpose of the green structures policy is to organise and protect all green spaces and green elements, in both spatial and functional terms, in relation to one another and to physical structures in the pursuit of intellectual and physical well-being.

The green structures plan is the instrument through which green structures policy is implemented. It is a sectoral plan for nature conservation and landscape management with the status of a binding land-use plan, and consists of plans and written text setting out measures and policy goals. The plan has a number of functions. It serves as a site-related design plan for inner-city green spaces, as an instrument to safeguard open space, as a planning instrument to structure and assign functions to areas on which building is not permitted, and as a planning instrument to implement the goals and principles of nature conservation and landscape management. Rules governing green structures plans are to be found in a number of state nature conservation acts.

Guiding principles for spatial developmentLeitbilder der Raumentwicklung

View in Compendium

Pursuant to the Federal Spatial Planning Act and in collaboration with state spatial planning authorities, the competent federal ministry develops guiding principles on the basis of spatial structure plans for the spatial development of the country as a whole or for areas extending beyond the borders of single states. These guiding principles are informal in nature and are intended to help specify the principles of spatial planning with regard to territorial and substantive scope for the purpose of coordinating federal government and EU planning and activities. In a discussion process, the guiding principles are to be adapted and updated to satisfy current conditions. Guiding principles have been formulated and cartographically visualised in, for example, the 1993 “Guidelines for Regional Policy” and the 1996 “Framework for Action in Spatial Planning Policy.“ In June, 2006, the Conference of Ministers for Spatial Planning (MKRO) adopted the “Guiding Principles and Strategies for Spatial Development in Germany” to provide guidance for joint federal/state action. The three guiding principles of “growth and innovation”, “securing the provision of essential public services”, and “conserving resources, developing cultural landscapes” describe spatial planning priorities for the coming years.