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Supporting Urban Development in Germany

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The Urban Development Support programme is a key feature of many German towns, cities and communities’ visual characters. Holistic planning, decision-making and action, alongside dedication, initiative and creativity from local residents – with this support instrument, these become the starting block for forward-thinking, needs-oriented urban development.

Das Bild zeigt eine Uferpromenade mit einer großen Steintreppe, auf welcher einige Menschen sitzen.

Source: Atelier Loidl / Leonard Grosch

For over 50 years, the Urban Development Support programme has been a major municipal and inter-municipal instrument and an important basis for the financing of urban renewal. The Federal Government, the federal states and the municipalities regard the Urban Development Support programme as being of major cultural, economic, social and ecological significance, financing it in a spirit of partnership and responsibility. This means that there is a broad political and professional consensus for the Urban Development Support programme.

Under the umbrella of the National Urban Development Policy, the Urban Development Support programme has since 2007 been one of the key instruments for delivering on the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities. The continuing success of the Urban Development Support programme as an independent funding instrument is based on five core features: cooperation between the Federal Government, federal states and municipalities; integrated planning of overall activities; flexible adaptation to needs; participation by the urban community; and ongoing evaluation and development of the programme.

The Federal Government and federal states agree on priority issues and on distribution, use and settlement of Urban Development Support funding. The federal states are responsible for actual distribution and direct the funding to the towns, cities and communities. This is based on federal state-specific urban development policy ideas, strategic support approaches and local requirements. The towns, cities and communities retain ultimate planning sovereignty. They plan their urban development works, apply to the federal state for funding, then deliver the works.

Unlike other funding instruments, the Urban Development Support programme provides no sup-port for individual projects and concentrates instead on Gesamtmaßnahmen – big-picture works. Towns, cities and communities choose a funding district for which they then develop an integrated urban development plan. With this plan, the town or city sets itself future-oriented development goals, to be delivered by a broad variety of stakeholders and which correspond to specific local needs while also including all relevant urban development sectors. Focusing on the local context ensures that the urban districts and town cores in question receive targeted support.

With its holistic approach, the Urban Development Support programme goes beyond merely investing in urban infrastructure. Its goal is delivering equality of living conditions despite the differing starting conditions across the municipalities; it thus embraces the diverse range of challenges that emerge with regards to a social welfare-oriented and economically, demographically, and ecologically sustainable urban development in the various regional contexts. It thus makes it possible to use funding for needs-oriented works.

Locally, stakeholders from the urban community, from the business and trade communities, from the cultural and educational sectors, and from various other fields contribute to development processes and individual projects. As well as being an economic motor, Urban Development Sup-port is thus also a point of identity-creation for the local population. It encourages democratic coexistence in neighbourhoods and can contribute to social stabilisation. Through communication, knowledge transfer, and exchange of practical experiences, the feedback-loop instrument that is Urban Development Support funding constantly receives new insights and impetus.

Evaluations make key contributions to the refinement of the Urban Development Support programme and its real-world implementations. One strategic instrument is the monitoring of the funding districts. This involves gathering data that show what has been achieved in urban space and in neighbourhoods via Urban Development Support funding. Research projects are used to develop evidence-based foundations for future development of the Urban Development Support programme. National Contact Points assist with communication and knowledge transfer.

Financing and Distributing Funds Financing and Distributing Funds (Larger version opens in new window) Source: complan Kommunalberatung GmbH

Urban Development Support: Simpler, More Flexible, Greener

Urban Development Support is undergoing a restart for 2020 – it is becoming simpler, more flexible and greener. Per the policy brief set out in the legislative agreement made by Germany’s current governing coalition, the funding instrument has been comprehensively redeveloped in close coordination with the federal states and municipal umbrella organisations. From 2020 onwards, funding will be concentrated on three programmes instead of the previous six, with funding ultimately still being directed to the same purposes. These purposes are in line with current urban development challenges. In 2020 790 million Euros in federal funding were forwarded to towns, cities and communities

The specification of a funding district and an integrated development plan have proven to be effective means of developing sustainable urban structures. They are thus prerequisites to municipalities receiving Urban Development Support funding. Eligibility requirements now also include measures for climate protection and climate-change adaptation, in particular for the improvement of green infrastructure. These requirements can be met via various urban development measures – including the greening of construction areas, the networking of green and open spaces, or even climate-friendly transport.

Living Town and City Centres – Preservation and Development of Town and City Cores (€300 Million)
Inner-city areas and town centres are often places for encounters and communication, for retail trade, work and for housing – all at one and the same time. City and district centres must thus be developed into attractive, identity-creating places for people of all kinds of backgrounds. The aim of the Living €790million in federal funding forwarded to towns, cities and communities in 2020. Town and City Centres programme is to ensure diverse utilisation of the existing building stock, thus creating places with a high quality of stay. The design of public space plays a similarly important role to that played by unique architectural heritage – especially in historic old towns.

Social Cohesion – Building Coexistence in the Neighbourhood Together (€200 Million)
For many people, the neighbourhood is an important anchor point and a familiar environment. It is both a home and a place to meet neighbours. The aims of the new Social Cohesion programme are thus to increase the quality of life and of housing in neighbourhood, to deliver a greater diversity of use, to bring all population groups closer together, and to strengthen cohesion in the neighbourhood. It is for this very reason that participation and coordination processes have proven to be indispensable. The programme thus goes beyond purely investment-oriented measures and focuses on neighbourhood management and on mobilising participation and volunteerism.

Growth and Sustainable Regeneration – Designing Liveable Neighbourhoods (€290 Million)
Towns, cities and communities see themselves as being subject to very different structural changes. Some areas are experiencing major contraction, with others having to deal with huge growth phases. The Growth and Sustainable Regeneration programme helps towns, cities and communities to adapt. As well as revitalising brownfield sites and turning them into new neighbourhoods, it can also deliver removal works for no-longer-needed housing and the associated infrastructure. In keeping with the goal of sustainable renewal, the programme is also about adapting to climate change via urban planning measures.

Timeline Urban Development Support Programme Timeline Urban Development Support Programme (Larger version opens in new window) Source: complan Kommunalberatung GmbH