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    Section of a Federal State Development Plan – (Mecklenburg-Westpommerania)

    Section of the Regional Plan “Vorpommern” (a Part of Mecklenburg-Westpommerania)

    Section of a preparatory land-use plan (City of Dortmund)

     The Legally Binding Land-Use Plan “Hom 213” (City of Dortmund)

Visit our Web-sites and find:

  •    national and regional plans and strategies of spatial development
  •    spatial planning legislation / planning documents ie enforced/approved plans


    1. Statistical data

The land utilisation in the FRG showed in 1997 the following table:
Area north-south distance east-west distance forest areas water areas settlement and transportation areas remaining areas
357 000 km2 876 km 640 km 29.4% 2.2% 11.8% 2.5%

Population density
82 million 230 persons/km2

Nearly every third inhabitant (26 million = 32%) lives in one of the 84 cities (more than 100.000 inhabitants). But the majority live in villages and small towns: 6,5 million (8%) in places up to 2.000 inhabitants and 49,5 million (60%) in communities from 2.000 to 100.000 inhabitants.

    2. Administrative organisation

Germany is a federal republic made up of the Federation (Bund) and 16 federal states (Laender):

  • Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Lower Saxony
  • Mecklenburg-West Pomerania
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringi

According to the federalist principle of the constitution the authority of the German state is divided between the Federation (the Bund) and the federal states (the Laender). The federal states have their own state authorities and their own legislation. This fact characterises Germany as a decentralised state.

The federalist structure of the German state with the three central levels of the Federation, the federal states and the municipalities as the organs of local self-government has a decisive influence on the system of spatial planning. Decentralised in the same way, spatial planning in Germany is thus arranged through the legally determined distribution of responsibilities and tasks between the three levels of the Federation, the federal states and the municipalities. Spatial planning in Germany is consequently a system of planning levels that are clearly delineated legally, organisationally and from the point of view of content. On the one hand, they each have their own legal basis, but on the other hand they are closely inter-linked through the principle of counter-current as well as on the basis of complex regulations regarding information, participation, agreement and co-operation, and obligation.

At the federal level is the Ministry for Transport, Building and Housing, responsible for spatial planning. Spatial planning is in accordance with the German constitution (Art. 75 No. 4) a policy area with only framework competencies for the Federation. Therefore, there is no federal spatial planning nor plan. To co-ordinate the different policies in the field of spatial planning, a conference of the state ministers for spatial planning was founded. Their decisions have self-binding effects for the states.

Among the federal states there are considerable differences with regard to the responsibility for Raumordnung or rather for Landesplanung. At present the predominant departmental assignment model is an independent ministry for planning and environment.

For understanding the German planning system, the most important German planning terms need to be explained. The translation of these terms cannot be justified, otherwise there would be a loss of conceptual substance. These terms are:

  • RAUM is any part of the surface of the earth (area, district, land, region, space, territory, zone)
  • ORDNUNG has three meanings:
  • particular, real, existing, state/condition/situation
  • ideal/basic objective/model/guideline
  • systematic, methodical planned activity
  • RAUMORDNUNG is the comprehensive, supra-local and subordinated planning for the Ordnung and development of the Raum. While the task of comprehensive spatial planning is cross-sectoral, which means that particular sectoral criteria are not prevailing, but are co-ordinated and balanced, sectoral planning serves as the accomplishment of sectoral functions only under sectoral criteria. Raumordnung is in addition over and above the local authorities (supra-local). Raumordnung is executed by the Bund and by the Laender.
  • BUNDESRAUMORDNUNG is the Raumordnung carried out by the Bund.
  • LANDESPLANUNG is the Raumordnung carried out by the Laender.
  • REGIONALPLANUNG is the Raumordnung in parts of the Laender.
  • BAULEITPLANUNG is the two-phase urban development planning of the communities/municipalities.
  • FLAECHENNUTZUNGSPLANUNG is the preparatory land-use planning
  • BEBAUUNGSPLANUNG is the legally binding land-use planning.

    3. Brief overview of planning legislation

The planning law in the FRG consists of the Law of Raumordnung and of the Public Building Law.

The Law of Raumordnung is being composed of the Federal Regional Planning Act – FRPA (Raumordnungsgesetz) on the one hand and of the Acts of Raumordnung of the federal states (Landesplanungsgesetze) on the other hand.

The first Raumordnungsgesetz was passed in 1965 by the Federation in its responsibility for the framework legislation. This act obliges the federal states to draw up comprehensive superordinated plans (Raumordnungsplaene). In these plans the federal states have to fix objectives of the Raumordnung which have to be observed by public planning authorities (especially by the municipalities) in all spatially significant planning procedures and measures. The present legally valid version is dated 18th of August 1997.

On the basis of the Raumordnungsgesetz the federal states passed their Landesplanungsgesetze in a different build-up. The federal states amended these acts at different times and in a different way.

The Public Building Law is being composed of the Building Planning Law (Bauplanungsrecht) or one can use the term Urban Planning Law (Staedtebaurecht) on the one hand and of the Building Regulation Law (Bauordnungsrecht/Bauaufsichtsrecht) on the other hand. Urban Land-Use Planning is in contrast to the Raumordnung in compliance with Art. 74 No 18 of the German constitution a part of the concurrent legislation competence. As a result of this fact, the states have no competencies for their own building and planning laws. Nevertheless, they have their own building regulations (building regulation is a part of the framework competence) which aim to ensure that buildings are safe for users (Landesbauordnungen). These laws are object-oriented and have no spatial-oriented contents.

The Urban Planning Law consists of the Federal Building Code (FBC, Baugesetzbuch), the Federal Land Utilisation Order (Baunutzungsverordnung with types of possible building uses and more detailed information about the degrees of use) and complementary statutory orders.

In 1986 the Federation passed the Federal Building Code (its predecessor was the Federal Building Act of 1960), which regulates the two-phase urban development planning (Bauleitplanung). This law delegates the urban land-use planning as a self-government function to the municipal level (the actual version is dated 18th of August 1997). The municipalities are required to take responsibility for urban land-use planning. The decision as to what extent the preparation of an urban land-use plan is “required”, is left largely to the municipality itself and its own discretion on planning matters under the rules of the FBC and co-ordinated with the aims of regional planning.


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