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Scenarios and Potential for Settlement Development

What concepts, strategies and planning instruments can be used to achieve settlement development with economical use of space and the environment ?


Regional development in Germany, as in most other countries in Europe, is characterised by the continuing use of land areas for settlement and traffic purposes and by the break-up of previously compact town and city structures. Useof land resources is regarded as the most important indicator in the evaluation of settlement and traffic structures from the point of view of sustainable future development. The major goal is a significant reduction in the annual increase of settlement and transport areas. The researchers made two case studies: one of the East German town and region of Cottbus with about 275,000 inhabitants, and the other of the West German urban region of Hannover with 1,1 million inhabitants.


The conclusions can be clustered in three categories:

Firstly, the following areas have been identified as the most important structural elements of a new principle of urban development. The areas are based on successful elements of the European city and on beneficial or unavoidable elements of the "network city": 

  • population density and density of use;
  • variety of uses and mixed land use;
  • ecological and social quality of public space;
  • concentration of settlements;
  • polycentric structure;
  • transport system compatible with the environment and the town or city. 


Secondly, the following are among the most important strategies of settlement development with economy of space and preservation of the countryside at mainly communal and regional levels. Reforms in the statutory framework are considered separately: 

  • continued development of residential construction culture;
  • reactivation of brownfield sites within the urban area;
  • utilisation of interior conversion and changed use potential of existing buildings;
  • mobilisation of "gap" sites in urban contexts;
  • increased density in existing settlements and mixed use in new building areas;
  • enhancement of vegetation and open spaces within the urban area;
  • safeguarding and development of open spaces in the urban region;
  • promotion of environmentally harmless and socially compatible mobility;
  • central public transport junctions and increased settlement density;
  • change of use and building over traffic space;
  • multiple use and more efficient time allocation for facilities;
  • strengthening of local orientation.


Thirdly, the following three control and guidance instruments have been identified: 

  • planning instruments and regional reform, such as regional planning;
  • economic control instruments for the development of settlements, such as changes in property tax and residential construction policies;
  • infrastructure and transport policy, such as transport route investment policies.


Contact info

Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik
Ulrike Meyer

Publication date



Dieter Apel, Christa Böhme, Ulrike Meyer, Luise Preisler-Holl

Document type


By: Bart Nijhof,

05 Aug 2003

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