A current research project commissioned by the German Environment Agency has analyzed this subject.
Based on practical case studies and an analysis of the relevant legal framework, the final report of the project shows that settlement contraction as a policy instrument (cessation of uses and/or demolition of residential, commercial and development infrastructures) to address climate change or demographic change cannot be found directly in current law. On the contrary, spatial planning, building and sectoral planning law predominantly contains instruments for steering and implementing settlement and infrastructure growth.
Nevertheless, land use planning authorities at state, regional and local level have the possibility to take preventative action within the framework of a long-term contraction concept. By making stipulations on the regional structure and the use of open spaces, they can thus prevent settlements and traffic areas that are not sufficiently robust from being established in areas that are particularly at risk. Interventions in the existing building stock and infrastructure itself is permitted in regulatory law only in specific individual cases. The next step could be making selected adjustments to the legal framework. These must then be discussed further and tested in practice.