Cluster Spatial planning, regional and urban development

The picture shows two hands with a ruler and a pencil on a development plan spread out on the table.Click to enlarge
Spatial planning, regional and urban development
Source: Photograph: © U. J. Alexander /

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Spatial planning, regional and urban development

Spatial planning, regional and urban development can be used to support the adaptation to climate change in two significant ways. On one hand, these types of planning can provide targeted support for risk provisioning at various planning levels, and they can govern land use in a way that mitigates existing or expected climate risks – for example from extreme weather events and their impacts. On the other hand, planning can help to reconcile diverging claims on land use and changing requirements arising from climatic circumstances as well as reconciling such claims with issues of landscape potential.

To this end, there are different tools available at different planning levels. The essential formal tools of spatial planning – the planning at Länder and regional level which facilitate the overarching governance of spatial development – are the planning categories of priority and restricted areas. As far as priority areas are concerned, spatial types of function or utilisation have priority: Subject to appropriate designation of these areas, this precludes any incompatible type of spatial utilisation, unless the latter is protected as a pre-existing form of land use. In priority areas any relevant issues have already been settled by final and binding decisions. Subordinate planning levels can only be used to reinforce such decisions within the scope of their planning remit. However, they are not at liberty to reassess their validity. By contrast, restricted area designations are less legally binding. It is true to say that the designation of restricted areas imbues them with a certain gravity regarding specific types of spatial function or use with a view to subsequent assessment of other types of land use. However, the importance of conflicting types of land use may be weighted as overriding which means that they cannot be completely ruled out.


Safeguarding space for evolution – priority and restricted areas reserved for wildlife and landscape (RO-R-1)

Spatial planning for drinking water and groundwater conservation (RO-R-2)

Safeguarding areas for inland flood protection (RO-R-3)

Conserving unsealed terrain to benefit local climate (RO-R-4)

Provident new land use also contributes to adaptation (RO-R-5)

Avoiding settlements in terrain vulnerable to climate risks (RO-R-6)