Wed 16 Jan

Live Case 1: Dynamic Planning Processes for a Dynamic Region

The Regionalverband (Regional Authority FrankfurtRheinMain) is a specialised authority and a special one: we do regional land use planning for an exceptionally large area - an area which happens to be among the most prosperous and “dynamic” regions in Europe. “Dynamic” should be seen as a shorthand for growth: for more and more inhabitants, more and more jobs, more and more demand for transport, housing, business areas – which results more and more in the need to transform the Außenbereich (undeveloped spaces outside built-up areas) into built-up areas. But, obviously, the Außenbereich is a finite resource…

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Photo: Karlheinz Knickel

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ROBUST coincides with the process of drafting a new edition of our Regional Land Use Plan. This process follows a legally-defined procedure, and the Regionalverband has highly-qualified staff and decades of experience to tackle this task. However, this operation is far from being standard because it does not concern the territory of just one municipality (which is what the underlying Federal law assumes), but rather 75 collective municipalities, including the core city of Frankfurt am Main.

We could regard this as experimental already because it has not really been done before – too much has changed since the completion of the previous edition of the Plan. Now what is the real ROBUST experiment then?

We will try to assess the limits to growth: How much Außenbereich has to be left to keep this region working? How can growth be designed to be smart, sustainable and inclusive, as the Europe 2020 strategy demands?

To this end we will focus on the ecosystems present in the Außenbereich. What services do they provide? Which of them are indispensable? The whole operation will start with quantitative information based on the Regionalverband’s sophisticated database. Next we will check for the need, the availability, and the value of additional information. As the Living Lab develops, we will define a pilot area to be able to go into detail. Rather than looking at the rather heterogeneous 2,458 km2 in total, we will explore a near-to-core area - the peri-urban zone where urban and rural elements coincide and specific situations prevail that are neither purely urban, nor purely rural.

The Regionalverband’s plan is to engage local authorities, thus political and technical representatives will be involved in the Living Lab. One of the challenges will be to avoid the "nice-to-have" trap: Ecosystem services aren’t limited to endangered species or areas of outstanding natural beauty. This is why this Living Lab has links to two other Communities of Practice. With this Living Lab our planning decisions will be even better informed. Beyond our own area, the results can have an influence on the further refinement of the German planning system, because, after all, this is a sophisticated interpretation of the legal provisions done by one of the big players in this business.

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News about Rural-Urban Europe and the ROBUST project is published regularly in the INFORMED CITIES newsletter.

ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

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