R

Region

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.

Regional 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.

Regional economic development

The Basic Law requires the federal government to participate in a number of areas in the discharge of tasks incumbent on the states, provided that such responsibilities are important to society as a whole and that federal participation is necessary for the improvement of living conditions (joint tasks). The Basic Law defines the following joint tasks:
1. improvement of regional economic structures;
2. improvement of the agrarian structure and of coastal preservation.

Joint tasks are defined in greater detail by federal legislation. Such legislation contains general principles on how joint responsibilities are to be discharged and stipulates both rules of procedure and the institutionalisation of joint framework planning.
One joint task particularly relevant to spatial planning is the “improvement of regional economic structures”. This is the key instrument available to the federal and state governments in promoting regional economic development. The main aim in this area is to encourage private-sector investment and investment in complementary business-related infrastructure capable of creating new – or safeguarding existing – longterm employment opportunities in structurally weak regions.
A second important joint task is the “improvement of agricultural structure and coastal protection”. The central goal is to ensure an efficient agricultural and forestry sector equipped to meet future demands and able to compete effectively in common market of the EU, and to improve coastal protection The shift in responsibility for agricultural structure and regional policy from the national to the EU level has led to a decline in the importance of joint federal/state tasks in Germany.

Regional 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.

Regional planning

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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.

Regional preparatory land-use plan

In the wording of the Federal Building Code: “The preparatory land-use plan shall represent in basic form the types of land uses envisaged for the entire municipal territory in accordance with the intended urban development which is proposed to correspond to the anticipated needs of the municipality.” The preparatory land-use plan thus sets out the municipality’s proposals for future land use and makes preliminary representations on the use of plots within the municipal territory for built development or for other uses. Preparatory land-use plans identify, for example, general land-use areas (Bauflächen) and specific land-use areas (Baugebiete) (cf. Land Utilisation Ordinance); land for public amenities, green spaces, agricultural and woodland areas. The preparatory land-use plan is binding only on the municipality: although it obliges the municipality to implement the plan as adopted, it does not have any direct legal effects vis-à-vis the general public. For sections of the municipal territory it can be filled in by means of binding land-use plans which are binding on everyone. Special types of preparatory land-use plan are the partial, joint, regional preparatory land-use plans. The substantive preparatory land-use plan allows the municipality to concentrate privileged development projects (cf. outer zone) in specific locations, with the exception of agricultural and forestry operations. The designation of concentration zones in the preparatory landuse plan is similar to the “suitable development area” model in the spatial structure plan.

Contiguous municipalities may and ought to prepare a joint preparatory land-use plan if their development is largely subject to common conditions and requirements, or where a joint preparatory land-use plan would facilitate an equitable balance between their various concerns. The plan can be repealed, amended, or supplemented by the participating municipalities only jointly. A regional preparatory landuse plan also function as a regional plan and a joint preparatory land-use plan for the participating local authorities. The Federal Spatial Planning Act empowers states to prepare and introduce regional preparatory land-use plans in conurbations or where the spatial structure of the region is characterised by other interdependencies. It must conform with the procedural and substantive requirements of both the Federal Building Code and the relevant state spatial planning act. This new type of plan dispenses with one level of planning by combining regional planning and municipal preparatory urban land-use planning.

Regional 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.

Renewable energies

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In the interest of securing finite energy resources and with regard to environmental and climate protection, the objective of the Federal Government, is to increase the share of renewable energy in energy supply. Fundamentals for this include the EU Directive 2001/77/EC and the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) to amended version from 01.08.2004. The mid-term objective of government in Germany is a renewable energy at the power supply 25 to 30% by the year 2020. Among the renewable energies including energy from biomass or biodegradable waste, from wind and hydropower, solar energy (obtained by solar panels and photovoltaic systems) and energy from geothermal energy. With the exception of geothermal and tidal energy renewable energy has their origin either directly or indirectly in the power of the sun.
For the different renewable energy sources the question was raised for the regional importance in the fields of regional and state planning. The Country Planning Act Baden-Württemberg requires regional planning of the control of wind energy (wind turbines). Other renewable energy sources are focused on the level of the local planning because of their decentralized usually focus, the state and regional planning is withdrawn, if it is not to participate as representatives of public interest in the relevant approval and registration procedures. The threshold of regional importance may be by the size of the system (such as solar farms are exceeded) and characteristics of the site (eg landscape, how exposed).
Statements to regulate the renewable energies are given in the country Development Plan (LEP) Baden-Württemberg (objectives and principles under 4.2) and are limited to general principles, we see the regime for the control of wind energy use (from 4.2.7).

Required weighing of interests

In preparing decisions in all fields of spatial and sectoral planning, interests typically need to be weighed. This is a key requirement in planning for the benefit of society under the rule of law. A complex theoretical framework has consequently been developed to achieve this in applying building and sectoral planning law. The requirement to weigh interests in urban land-use planning is enshrined in the Federal Building Code. Conflicting public and private interests are to be weighed against each other and given fair consideration This places
a duty on municipalities to ensure:
1. that interests are duly weighed,
2. that all matters warranting consideration are covered,
3. that there is no failure to appreciate the importance of public and private interests,
4. and that the balance achieved is proportionate to the objective importance of individual interests.
Within these limits a municipality is free to decide in favour of one interest – and thus against another.

Requirement of spatial planning

In state and regional planning, spatial planning requirements are laid down in spatial structure plans in the form of texts and drawings. The term covers the goals, principles, and other requirements of spatial planning. According to the Federal Spatial Planning Act, “other equirements” are:

  • regional planning goals in the process of being established,
  • results of formal state spatial planning procedures such spatial planning procedures, and
  • state government opinions.

The goals, principles, and other requirements of spatial planning differ in their binding force as laid down by the Federal Spatial Planning Act. The goals of spatial planning must be strictly observed by all actors mentioned by the Federal Spatial Planning Act (especially public authorities and planning bodies) in all spatially relevant planning and activities. This requirement of compliance prevents the circumvention of spatial planning goals in the course of balancing interests or by discretionary decisions. The principles of spatial planning and other spatial planning requirements are to be observed in planning and administrative decisions in weighing up interests or in making discretionary decisions in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.

Requirements of spatial planning

Spatial Planning Requirements are the terms of reference for planning and ad-ministration. They take the form of goals, basis principles and other Spatial Planning Requirements (Spatial Planning Act). The term Spatial Planning Requirements thus summarises three different forms of expression of spatial planning. Their binding nature is laid down in the Spatial Planning Act. The various Spatial Planning Requirements are defined in the Spatial Planning Act (goals, basic principles, other require-ments). According to this, other Spatial Planning Requirements are:

  • Spatial planning goals that are in the process of being formulated,
  • Results of formal state planning proce-dures such as those of the Spatial Planning Procedure, and
  • Regional planning statements. In spatial planning plans, only Spatial Planning Requirements can be made binding.

Reserve area

Reserve areas are areas where special importance is attached to certain functions or uses of importance for spatial structure in comparison with competing uses. In their specific character, reserve areas reflect the principles of
spatial planning; but no final appraisal has yet been undertaken of the substantive benefits their designation anticipates.

Right of pre-emption

The right of pre-emption is the “right of first refusal” which a local authority is permitted to exercise in respect of a property within its territory. The Federal Building Code distinguishes between general and specific local-authority rights of pre-emption, both of which apply only to the purchase of real property. In both cases, the exercise of the pre-emption right is permitted only when this is in the public interest. A municipality is permitted to make use of its general pre-emption right in six distinct cases: within the area covered by a binding land-use plan in respect of sites designated for public use; in an area undergoing reallocation; in a formally designated rehabilitation area, and in an urban development zone; within the territory covered by a preservation and redevelopment statute; within areas covered by a preparatory land-use plan, provided the land concerned is not developed, is situated in the outer zone and has been earmarked in the preparatory land-use plan for use as housing land or as a residential area; in respect of sites within the territory covered by a binding land-use plan or in built-up areas which are suitable for predominantly residential development and which have not been developed. Exercise of the specific pre-emption right must be underpinned by a bye-law (or municipal statute); this is accordingly sometimes referred to as a “statutory preemption right”. The municipality may assert by statute its right of pre-emption in respect of undeveloped land within the area covered by a binding land-use plan; it is also permitted to make use of this right in respect of areas for which urban development measures are being considered, and, in order to safeguard planned urban development, it may designate by statute such sites in respect of which it may wish to exercise its right of preemption. Pre-emption rights are also enshrined in natureprotection law.

Rural areas

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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). (adapted from BBR 2005: 15 ff, 175 ff; ARL 2003 and Gruber 1995: 357 ff.)

Rural district

A county (Landkreis or Kreis) is a territorial authority in the form of a local government association composed of a number of municipalities. Counties have the right to manage all the affairs of the local community on their own responsibility within the limits set by law (self-government tasks), and perform functions that are beyond the administrative and financial capacity of member municipalities. Counties also perform governmental functions assigned to them by law (delegated functions). From the spatial planning point of view, for example, they include functions governed by building law and nature conservation law. Counties are thus both associations of municipalities and lower governmental administrative authorities. Matters falling within the purview of local government autonomy are decided by a directly elected assembly, the county council (Kreistag). The administrative head of the county is a directly elected chief executive, the “Landrat.” The functions of counties and their relations with state and municipalities are regulated by state statute. Counties finance themselves by means of a levy (county levy) on member municipalities.
In the system of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS) developed by Eurostat for use in Europe, the 439 counties in Germany are assigned to the NUTS 3 classification level.