According to the German Building Code (BauGB), municipalities are entitled and obliged to draw up urban land use plans. There are two types of urban land use plans:
- The land use plan, which covers the entire municipal area, but does not yet make any binding determinations for the citizen (see also the keyword "land use plan").
- The development plan, which is developed from the land use plan and is limited to parts of the municipality's territory. It contains binding provisions for citizens and building authorities and regulates how land can be built on.
As a rule, development plans are to be developed from the land use plan; this means that there must be no substantial contradiction in content between the development plan and the land use plan. In the development plan, specifications can be made, e.g. on the type and extent of the intended building use, on the areas of land that can be built on, the position of buildings, but also, e.g. on public and private green areas, traffic areas. In addition, regulations can also be made, for example, on the planting of trees, shrubs and other vegetation.
A distinction is made between the qualified, the project-related and the simple development plan:
A qualified development plan exists if the development plan contains at least specifications on the type and extent of building use, the areas of land that can be built on and the local traffic areas. If a building plot is located in the area covered by a qualified development plan, a building project is permissible under planning law if it does not contradict the provisions of the development plan and the development is secured.
Project-related development plans can be drawn up by the municipalities on the basis of a project and development plan agreed with the municipality by a (private) project developer. The prerequisite is that the developer is willing and able to carry out the project and the development measures and undertakes to implement the measures in an implementation agreement. Projects are also permitted under planning law within the scope of a project-related development plan if they do not conflict with the development plan and the development is secured.
Simple development plans are those that do not meet the requirements of either a qualified or a project-related development plan. In principle, they do not conclusively regulate the permissibility of construction projects under planning law.
Development plans are municipal statutes, i.e. legal norms. They are drawn up in a procedure regulated in detail in the Building Code (BauGB), which provides for citizen participation, among other things (see also "Related Topics" - "Urban Land Use Plans; Drawing Up").
Section 13a of the BauGB provides for procedural simplifications under certain conditions for land-use plans for internal development, which relate to the reclamation of land, redensification or other measures for internal development. With effect from May 13, 2017, the applicability of the accelerated procedure beyond internal development was extended by the new Section 13b BauGB to development plans in external areas with a floor area of less than 10,000 square meters; the accelerated procedure is applicable in these cases if the development plan establishes the admissibility of residential uses on land that adjoins coherently built-up districts. § Section 13b of the German Building Code (BauGB) applied for a limited period until December 31, 2022, by which time the procedure for drawing up the development plan must have been formally initiated; the resolution to adopt the development plan must then be passed by December 31, 2024 at the latest. The regulation was extended to the current deadlines by the Building Land Mobilization Act, which came into force on June 23, 2021.