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.

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Urban and spatial developmentStadt- und Raumentwicklung

“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.

Urban development contractStädtebaulicher Vertrag

The term urban development contract is applied to a range of contractual agreements under urban development or planning law. The subject of an urban development contract can, for example, be the preparation and implementation of urban development measures by, and at the expense of, the private party to the contract. Measures of this type might include land reallocation or soil decontamination. A further possible subject for an urban development contract could the promotion and securing of urban land-use planning aims, with regard, for example, to the use of a property, to impact mitigation measures, or to meeting the housing needs of specific groups of the population. The municipality and a private partner may also enter into an urban development contract to settle the assumption of costs or other liabilities which the municipality has incurred or expects to incur in respect of urban development measures which are prerequisites or direct consequences of the planned development project (e.g. providing the site). In recent years, urbandevelopment contracts have become an important supplementary tool in urban land-use planning, and have to some extent superseded classical governmental measures like bye-laws (or municipal statutes). Urban development contracts are regulated by the Federal Building Code (Sections 11, 124).

Urban development measureStädtebauliche Entwicklungsmaßnahme

The purpose of urban development measures under the Federal Building Code is to develop urban districts or other parts of the municipal territory in keeping with their particular significance for urban development within the municipality, or in accordance with the desired development of the state district or the region, or to make such areas available for new development within the framework of urban reorganisation. Measures of this type are to serve the public interest, particularly in meeting the demand for housing and employment, for public amenities and associated facilities, and in returning derelict land to productive use. Moreover, urban development measures may only be undertaken where there is a public interest in uniform development and speedy implementation. By resolution of the local council (the urban development statute), the municipality may formally designate an area in which urban development measures are to be implemented as an urban development zone. The municipality is then required to draw up binding land-use plans for area without delay and to undertake all of the measures required to implement development.

Urban development planningStadtentwicklungsplanung

Urban development planning is that part of the planning activities of a municipality which is concerned with settling development aims either for the entire municipal territory or for specific sections of it. It thus sets the framework for urban development suited to meeting the social, cultural and economic needs of the community. This framework includes capital investment on the part of the municipality, where this has implications for spatial development, and lays down the sequence and order of priority. Urban development planning also serves to draw together and co-ordinate the various sectoral plans and to focus them on one common goal. It is this cross-sectoral dimension of urban development planning that sets it apart from urban land-use planning, the role of which is limited to preparing and steering the use of land in the municipal territory for building or for other purposes. Unlike urban land-use planning, urban development planning does not focus on the graphical presentation of future spatial developments but on mostly verbal statements about the goals and means of steering development. Urban development planning is not governed by federal law; essentially it is up to the municipalities to decide informally and at their own discretion whether to make use of this planning instrument.

Concepts are often developed using dialogue-oriented procedures like urban forums, planning and future search workshops, and public urban development discussions. They are accordingly less regulatory than process and procedure-oriented. Such concepts represent no all-embracing claim to control and implementation. They provide a basis for reaching agreement on objectives and guiding principles and a matrix for evaluating individual planning steps and projects. The comprehensive integrated urban development concepts and urban development concepts defining the goals of development in shrinking communities are particularly important in the context of urban redevelopment.

Urban land-use planningBauleitplanung

View in Compendium

On the basis of the Federal Building Code, local authorities undertake development planning in the form of urban land-use planning on their own responsibility (local planning autonomy). The function of urban land-use planning is to prepare and organise the use of plots within the municipal territory for building and other purposes in accordance with the Federal Building Code.

Land-use plans drawn up by local authorities are to safeguard sustainable urban development and a socially equitable utilisation of land for the general good of the community, and to secure a more humane environment, and to protect and develop natural resources. Land-use planning “dedicates” land for specific uses (e.g., housing, commerce, public amenities). It may also lay down restrictions (e.g., maximum lot coverage, maximum number of storeys, etc.), obligations (e.g., housing for specific categories of person), and requirements with respect to the implementation of the use in question (e.g., noise control, greenery).

Urban land-use planning is a two-stage process involving two types of plan:

  • the preparatory land-use plan (Flächennutzungsplan, FNP)
  • the binding land-use plan (Bebauungsplan).

The preparatory land-use plan provides the framework for preparing binding land-use plans The two types of plan differ essentially as regards spatial scope, detail, legal form, and legal effects. Otherwise there are governed by largely similar rules, especially with respect to planning principles and procedures for plan preparation. The Federal Building Code and the Federal Spatial Planning Act require local planning authorities to ensure that land-use plans conform with the goals of spatial planning. The Federal Building Code thus takes account of the functional dovetailing of state or regional planning and urban land-use planning. At the same time, the importance of state and regional planning in setting the framework for urban land-use planning is stressed.

Urban redevelopmentStadtumbau

The term “Stadtumbau” (urban redevelopment) as used in Germany since the 1990s refers to adjustment of existing communities to urban shrinkage with respect to urban design, social structures, municipal and financial policy, and infrastructure. Changes in needs and supply in all areas of life have been caused by a decline in the German population due to outmigration and low birth rates. The aim of urban redevelopment in this sense is to maintain, strengthen, and develop the functional and performance capacity of cities under changing conditions. For this purpose, the federal government initiated the urban development promotion programme Urban Redevelopment East (Stadtumbau Ost) in 2002 and a comparable programme Urban Redevelopment West for West Germany in 2004. Urban redevelopment measures are introduced in areas severely affected by the loss of urban functions, where adjustments are needed to produce sustainable urban structures. Such measures are particularly needed in areas where a persistent surplus of physical structures, especially housing, has developed or is anticipated. The most important measures include the development and redesign of major housing estates on the urban fringe built between the 1960s and the 1980s, revitalisation of city centres, and the conversion of previously developed in-centre and edge-city sites. Measures and funding are contingent on implementation-oriented, citywide development concepts providing a basis on which to plan and steer regeneration. In 2004, urban redevelopment was included in the Federal Building Code under special urban planning legislation.

Urban regionStadtregion

"Stadtregion” or urban region is the term applied to the core of a conurbation, consisting of a core city and surrounding suburban communities (Umland or urban field). In contrast to the broader concepts agglomeration, conurbation, or metropolitan region (german: Agglomeration, Ballungsraum, Metropolregion), the urban region does not include rural peripheral areas but only the immediate, heavily built-up surroundings of the core city.

Unlike “Verdichtungsraum” (sometimes translated as “urban concentration”) which is a spatial planning category and as such is defined in the relevant plans, “urban region” is a statistical concept. It is also often used in connection with the city/environs issue, where it denotes the sum of city and environs, i.e., the spatial frame of reference of the conflict. Suburbanisation continues to shift the focus of residential, industrial and commercial development within urban regions from central cities to the suburbs.

Urban renewal and village renewalStadterneuerung, Dorferneuerung

The aim of urban and village renewal is to preserve, renew and revitalise communities. Such measures strive to improve and adjust the settlement and built structure of all sections of the national territory, both to provide the general population with healthy living and working conditions and to meet changing social, hygienic, economic and cultural requirements. They also play an important part in improving economic and agricultural structure, satisfying conservation requirements, improving the visual quality of localities and landscape, and in the conservation of historic monuments. Urban rehabilitation instruments can be used for urban renewal. Some states have introduced special rules for village renewal (village renewal guidelines) relating to such matters as the preparation, implementation, and promotion of village development and renewal.

Urban-development enforcement ordersStädtebauliches Gebot

An urban development enforcement order is a local authority provision obliging a property owner to undertake a building measure. The Federal Building Code (Sections 172, 176-179) lists the following urban-development enforcement orders: preservation order, building order, modernisation and refurbishment order, planting order, and dedevelopment and de-sealing order (formerly demolition order. The prerequisite for issuing orders of this type as instruments to support implementation of a binding land-use plan is that there is an urgent need for such measures on urban development grounds. The measures are to be discussed beforehand with the affected owners, tenants, and leaseholders. They are, however, obliged to tolerate the measures, but legal remedies are available to them which can delay the actual implementation of the order for years. As a rule the local authority will therefore seek a solution acceptable to all sides before they institute administrative execution proceedings.

Urban/city marketing and regional marketingStadt- und Regionalmarketing

The terms urban or city marketing and regional marketing (sometimes referred to together as planning marketing) denotes a new strategy under which the marketing approach typical in the commercial sector – and with it the associated methods of corporate management – is applied to regional planning and to local authority planning and planning policy. It makes use of marketing tools like market analysis, marketing strategies, and the orientation of products and services on current and future demand. Characteristic features of this approach include thinking in terms of “target groups”, and “customer orientation”, the “customers” here being citizens, businesses, professional associations etc., i.e. the addressees of public planning policy.

In local-authority planning and planning policy, municipalities turn to urban marketing in their endeavour to gain a competitive edge over other municipalities. As far as regions are concerned, regional marketing involves business attraction, umbrella marketing for already established firms, and for territorial authorities in connection with tourism. Regional marketing is thus more difficult and limited in scope than city marketing, since competing interests within the region have to be reduced to a common denominator and marketed externally as a whole.

Urban/town planningStadtplanung

Urban or town planning is control of the development of land allocation and distribution, land use, locational distribution, built development, provision of local public infrastructure, and the use of open spaces in the city, as well as the targeted coordination of the various private and public building activities and demand for use within the municipal territory. The purpose of urban planning is to secure and develop the quality of local living and working conditions in their social, economic dimensions, with respect to the built environment, and to cultural and ecological considerations, and it thus a key task of local self-government.

The term urban or town planning clearly subsumes a number of other planning categories, e.g., urban land-use planning, urban rehabilitation, and urban development planning. It should, however, be added that there is no definitive legal definition of the German term “Stadtplanung” (urban or town planning). It is often used synonymously with “Städtebau,” also usually translated as “urban planning”.

Utility servicesVer- und Entsorgung

The provision of public utility services is an important element in land improvement.
Utility services include:

  • water supply, a distinction being made between drinking water and industrial/process water,
  • sewage/waste water disposal and treatment,
  • refuse/waste collection, transport, treatment, and storage,
  • power supply, including the disposal of all substances created or arising during power generation,
  • telecommunications.