The procedure for drawing up, supplementing, cancelling or amending urban land use plans is governed by the German Federal Building Code (BauGB). The relevant legal provisions can be found in particular in §§ 1 to 4 b, 6 and 10 BauGB.
An integral part of the urban land use plan procedure is the environmental assessment, which is carried out for environmental protection issues. This comprises the determination of the probable significant environmental effects and their description and evaluation in an environmental report. The environmental report forms a separate part of the justification of the urban land use plan.
The procedure is regularly initiated by a resolution of the responsible municipal body, e.g. the municipal council. As a rule, early public participation takes place on the basis of a preliminary draft, in which citizens are to be informed, among other things, about the general objectives and purposes of the planning and the anticipated effects of the planning. At the same time, they must be given the opportunity to comment on and discuss the planning. In addition to the early participation of the public, the municipality also conducts early participation of the authorities and other public agencies whose area of responsibility may be affected by the planning. This also serves to provide the municipality with information on the required scope and level of detail of the environmental assessment. If necessary, the draft urban land use plan is revised after the early public and authority participation.
Subsequently, the draft of the urban land-use plan, together with the explanatory memorandum and the environmental comments that the municipality considers to be significant and already available, is put on public display for a period of one month (but at least for a period of 30 days - "February clause"). The place of display is usually the town hall or the office of the building administration of the municipality. The place and duration of the public display must be announced in accordance with local custom at least one week before it begins. In doing so, it shall also be indicated which types of environmental information are available. In addition, the content of the customary announcement of the public display and the documents to be displayed must be posted on the Internet and made accessible via a central Internet portal of the Land (Section 4a (4) sentence 1 BauGB); for the legal validity of the plan, however, it is only decisive whether the posting on the Internet took place; if, on the other hand, only the publication on a central Internet portal of the Land was omitted, such a procedural error is irrelevant pursuant to Section 214 (1) sentence 1 no. 2 e) BauGB.
In addition to the public display, the municipality obtains the opinions of the authorities and other bodies of public interest, whose area of responsibility may be affected by the planning, on the draft plan and its explanatory memorandum. These agencies must generally submit their comments within one month. Under certain conditions, the participation of the public interest groups can also take place by means of electronic communication via the Internet.
After the public display and the participation of the authorities, the municipality examines the suggestions of the citizens and public interest groups. In this stage of the procedure, the municipality weighs up the affected concerns against each other and decides whether to adhere to the intended urban land use planning or, if necessary, to amend or abandon it on the basis of suggestions and concerns. The environmental assessment must also be taken into account in the weighing process.
Under certain conditions, the municipality can carry out a simplified procedure in accordance with § 13 BauGB in special cases, e.g. in the case of amendments and supplements to an urban land use plan. This is characterized by simplifications in the preparation procedure, of which the municipality can optionally make use. In addition, the obligation to conduct an environmental impact assessment does not apply. In the case of the preparation of development plans that are aimed at internal development measures, § 13 a BauGB provides for the possibility of implementing an accelerated procedure. In addition to the procedural simplifications of Section 13 BauGB, no compensation under nature conservation law is regularly required in the accelerated procedure for development plans with an established floor area of less than 20,000 square meters.
With effect from May 13, 2017, the applicability of the accelerated procedure was extended beyond internal development by the new § 13b BauGB to development plans in external areas with a floor area of less than 10,000 sqm; the accelerated procedure is applicable in these cases if the development plan establishes the admissibility of residential uses on areas adjoining coherently built-up districts. § Section 13b BauGB applies 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.
The land use plan adopted by the municipality and certain development plans require approval before they come into force (see "Urban land use plans; approval" under "Related topics"). The granting of approval must be announced in accordance with local practice. The land use plan becomes effective upon publication, and the development plan enters into force upon publication. In the case of development plans not subject to approval, the final resolution on the statute shall be announced. The announced urban land-use plan shall be accompanied by a summary statement on the manner in which environmental concerns and the results of public and authority participation have been taken into account in the urban land-use plan and on the grounds on which the plan was selected after consideration of planning alternatives.
Land use plan and zoning plans as well as the aforementioned summary declaration can be inspected at the municipality.
In accordance with § 6a para. 2 and § 10a para. BauGB, the land use plan and development plans, together with the explanatory memorandum and the summary statement, are also to be posted on the Internet and made accessible via a central Internet portal of the state.