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Participatory land-use planning in Freiburg


Detailed description of the Good Practice

In spring 2001, the municipal council of Freiburg, a city situated in the South-west Germany, between the Black Forest region, Switzerland and the Alsace
region, decided to review the land‑use plan for 2010, paying particular attention to the needs of citizens. This attention was due to an outcome of previous participatory processes that had failed, resulting in growing mistrust of citizens in the transparency of the government. The result was a
clear call for more active public participation from the very start.

urban planning
quality of life

Objectives of the Good Practice

to review the land‑use plan for 2010, paying particular attention to the needs of citizens

Participants of the Good Practice

The Municipal Council of Freiburg

Target group of the Good Practice


Funding of the Good Practice

The Municipal Council of Freiburg

More Details of the Good Practice

To engage the public, the council established a systematic process in which citizens were involved in the decision‑making processes and thus able to
actively participate in the development of Freiburg's land-use plan. To allow for maximum input, the land-use plan was extended up to the year 2020
and a cross‑departmental project steering group for integrated urban development was set up in the Mayor's office.
In the two years that followed, Freiburg succeeded in continuously integrating citizens in the development of Freiburg's land‑use plan, thereby eliminating any mistrust. Ongoing public participation in the land‑use plan was organized
into three stages:
Stage 1: Development of planning guidelines
Stage 2: Information events
Stage 3: Facilitation of working groups and extended civil participation

Results, lessons learnt and transfer potential
The citizens' opinions about the land‑use proposal were introduced to the public and passed on to the mayor as a 'vote' by Freiburg's citizens. Consequently, the administration changed the draft land‑use plan and the municipal council approved most parts of the citizens' land‑use proposals. The number of citizens involved and their ongoing commitment to the process was notable.
This process has shown the value of an accurate review of the issues and roles in the preparatory phase. The administration was able to realistically outline the planning process, thereby anticipating potential conflicts and allowing for solutions to be found. Furthermore, external facilitation helped in establishing the concept of the 'Freiburg model' and supported mediation between the citizens and the administration in conflict situations. In addition, the involvement of competent citizens as voluntary facilitators led to many positive results in the short amount of time given. From all angles — participants, citizens, the administration, and the municipal council — the process of public participation is rated as a success and Freiburg plans to apply it in planning processes in the future.

Documentation and documents

Bürgerbeteiligung zum Flächennutzungsplan 2020, www.stadt.freiburg.de/1/1/121/index.php.

Available files

Data sources and references

EEA report #5/2009
Ensuring quality of life in Europe's cities and towns
Tackling the environmental challenges driven by European and global change