Archive: Urban development plan Centres and Retail Trading – Centre Concept 1999


The Berlin senate decided in its session on 9th March 1999 on the "urban development plan centres and retail – part 1: Objectives and guidelines for the development of retail – effects on the structure of centres in Berlin".

Berlin is characterised by a polycentric structure, which contributes together with its hierarchical and integrated centre locations to form an urban city, with a unique variety and liveliness. Goal of the senate is to strengthen these centre locations in their future development. At the same time the scope is to integrate compatible new retail projects into the urban structures.

Retail is one of the guiding functions of inner cities and it has more influence on the appearance of the inner city and the urban centres than any other economic function. The process of structural changes in retail is very fast. Because of the various factors listed below a clear political urban development orientation is required in the consideration of large scale retail projects:

  • Disproportionate retail area developments
  • insufficient consideration of the urban development objectives in grating planning permission for large-scale retail projects
  • Disequilibrium between need of shop floor space and supply
  • The increasing concentration process in retail.
The modification of the centre concept and the formulation of regional spatial guidelines for the development of the centre and retail structure respond with a more differentiated target orientation to the current development problems and are supposed to create more planning and investment safety for all parties participating in the planning process.

The most important general guidelines are:

  • Maintenance of the polycentricity and strengthening of the Berlin town centre locations,
  • Stepped qualitative and quantitative supply differentiation in the sense of the hierarchical organisation of centre structure; Formulation of upper limits for shop floor space development in the eight designated regions,
  • To determine limitations on the mixture of large-scale retail developments at the planning stage, within the framework of the planning and building permission, providing that they are necessary to avoid negative effects on the centre structure,
  • To avoid the realisation of large-scale retail sites on reserved industrial construction areas, represented in the land use plan,
  • Development of suitable measures to increase the attractiveness and the appearance of the Berlin town centres,
  • Qualification of centres through the setting up of specialised stores (e.g. DIY), but only if the locations benefit,
  • In particular, for large-scale retail centres at railway stations where compatibility and legality must be checked on an individual basis. The legal planning instrument should be consequently applied
Moreover, more specific recommendations for the development of the retail and centre structure and city-compatibility from an urban viewpoint for the individual regions in Berlin are to be formulated based on regional related deficits and equipment analyses (specific guidelines). Therefore, the city area was subdivided into eight city regions in order to evaluate adequately and to judge the city-structural and relevant environment effects of large-scale retail ventures on overall catchment areas.

The following factors are supposed to help in the practical realisation of the formulated goals and guidelines:

  • Better control through co-ordination of single retail projects covering more than one region (entire-urban),
  • To avoid inappropriate developments which may burden integrated urban centres,
  • To guarantee a useful functional division between the urban centres,
  • To prevent structurally problematic city developments (e.g. empty buildings),
  • To ensure a comprehensive and sufficient supply of the inhabitants,
  • To give investors orientation help from an entire-urban and Berlin regional perspective, with project considerations.

The following measures were decided on, to guarantee a citywide compatible and centre strengthening development:

Formulation of the "Urban development plan centres and retail – part 2: Development concept and instruments", Formulation of administrative regulations for the planning and permission of large retail developments, Formulation of a "Berlin list" to represent centre-compatible and non-compatible goods.