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Trends and tendencies in settlement development and their effects on the achievement of federal land policy goals
Client:German Environment Agency (UBA)
Partner(s):Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IÖR), Dresden (DE); Prof. Dr. habil. Fabian Thiel
Time frame:10/2020 – 11/2023

It is most likely that Germany will fail to meet the land-saving target anchored in the 2002 National Sustainability Strategy. By now, it is apparent that major efforts in politics, business and society will be necessary to achieve the target of reducing land consumption by less than 30 hectares per day by 2030. A key issue is an oversupply of building land in the suburbs and rural regions, coupled with a lack of available building land in the core cities and their immediate surroundings. With high land prices in the core cities and low prices in the periphery, the markets are sending out problematic signals: for households looking for housing, more affordable locations in the surrounding areas appear to be attractive again, as the costs of commuting remain at a moderate level. Especially families searching for housing and/or aspiring for property ownership see themselves forced or encouraged to move to decentralized locations. Land consumption caused by these processes also has a strong quantitative impact because the comparatively low land prices in the periphery of dense regions and in rural areas allow lower building densities. The construction of detached and semi-detached houses still dominates construction activity in these regions. This does not only appear problematic in the context of land and climate policy goals, but is also doubtful in terms of future demographic structural changes. It remains an open question whether the strong designation of building land in regions with non-tight housing markets can be explained primarily by the demand for lower-density forms of housing and the preferences of private households expressed therein, or whether it is rather a lack of suitable offers in integrated locations - partly in connection with municipal supply planning - that exert the decisive incentives on households looking for housing.

The aim of the research project is to critically analyze the current development patterns of settlement and land development in Germany and to evaluate them with regard to the existing land policy instruments as well as to identify possibilities for its further enhancement.

The project focuses on three issues:

1) the development of land markets, their relevance for currently observable spatial patterns of settlement development and construction activity and the implications for the “30 hectare target”,

2) demand for and need for single-family houses, the supply behaviour of municipalities and the consequences for land consumption,

3) the functioning and performance of inter-municipal land management as a contribution to land saving.


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