German Land Policy Revisited – Reflections and Lessons from Abroad

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Challenges of land policy

Land is a scarce resource. Not only in many large German cities but across the country there is a great demand for affordable housing in inner cities and its urban fringes. Also in neighbouring countries, land is under pressure. In most major cities and even in rural areas, land prices are currently rising in such a way that it is becoming increasingly difficult to finance residential and commercial areas needs.

At the same time, urban densification and land thrift are policy goals in Germany and in many of its neighbouring countries. The demand for urban growth nurtured by interests of municipalities and housing seekers on the one hand, and environmental concerns for the preservation of landscapes on the other hand, are thus in conflict.

In this conflict, it becomes clear that the provision of building land is not only an administrative, but above all a land policy issue. In the current debate on building land provision, this political question is often pushed into the background by the discussion about the effectiveness of spatial planning instruments or the acceleration of building site planning procedures.

The responsible management of the resource land is thereby one of the core competencies and tasks of spatial planning. Spatial planning therefore needs to face the political challenges of dealing with land to work a sustainable use of scarce land. This requires a broad debate on instruments of land policy and its strategic use. This debate needs to also reflect notions of effectiveness, efficiency, justice and legitimacy. The challenges ahead and the strategic use of instruments go beyond the municipal level and require a regional cityscape perspective. Due to the great challenges but also the international experience, this debate needs to include expertise from neighbouring countries.

An international working group

The international working group „German Land Policy Revisited – Reflections and Lessons from Abroad” will inspirit the necessary debate in Germany with references to other European countries. International renowned experts on the area of land policy and spatial planning will gather and discuss the pressing issues (not only) on German land policy. Core issues will be how instruments of land policy are used and can be used strategically to govern the scarce resource of land effectively, efficiently, just, and in a legitimized way to address the planning challenges of our time.