“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.