Planning process in Germany

Perhaps one of the most striking differences between planning in the US and Germany is the structure of the planning systems, and in particular the manner in which the various levels of government interact.

In Germany, planning occurs within a decentralizeddecision-making structure and a strong legal framework, something associated with the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) of 1949.

Involved in the process are the federal government (Bund ), the 16 state governments (Laender), the 114 planning regions and the approximately 14,000 municipalities (BBR, 2000). In recent years, the European Union (EU) has also played an increasing (albeit non-binding) role.

Although planning is a shared task among all levels of government, the federal govern ment does not create or implement plans, but rather sets the overall framework and policy structure to ensure basic consistency for state, regional and local planning, while states, regions and municipalities are the actual planning bodies.

The framework distinguishes between Bauleitplanung, or local land use planning, and Raumordnung, or spatial planning. These are organized by two federal acts:

First, the Baugesetzbuch (Federal Building Code) requires lower levels of government to make plans that are vertically and horizontally consistent and standardizes the level of expertise, rules and symbols utilized in compiling plans (this is additionally supplemented by the Planzeichenverordnung, or Plan Symbols Ordi-nance).

Second, spatial planning is guided by the Bundes-Raumordnungsgesetz (Federal Spatial Planning Act). This act outlines broad guidelines to be met at the Land level, and defines the relationship between the Länder and the federal government. Much federal activity is spent advising lower tiers of government on the interpretation of the regulatory framework.