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Create living space or reduce land consumption? Politicians and conservationists are arguing about the extension of Section 13b BauGB

Facilitating housing construction – actually everyone’s concern. But: The measure called for by a federal government commission has met with strong criticism from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the Federal Environment Agency and other conservationists.

Section 13b of the Building Code (BauGB) came into force in 2017. This means that building on areas up to 10,000 square meters in size is made easier on the outskirts and neither environmental reviews nor compensation for nature conservation are mandatory. The point of the matter: Create new living space quickly to alleviate the housing shortage and the associated expensive rents in metropolitan areas. Section 13b BauGB expired at the end of last year – an extension of the law is now being discussed.

Federal Environment Agency: The law does not serve its purpose

At the beginning of July 2019, the Commission for “Sustainable Building Land Mobilization and Land Policy” (Building Land Commission) proposed to the Federal Government in its “Recommendations on the basis of consultations” an extension of the validity of Section 13b BauGB until the end of 2022 – after all, the problem of housing shortages has not yet been resolved everywhere .

This proposal caused an outcry from environmentalists: as early as 2017, they were not enthusiastic about the law. The Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes from a current study by the Federal Environment Agency that mainly small communities (i.e. not the metropolitan area) would benefit from Section 13b BauGB. The actual purpose of “creating substantially new residential building land to alleviate the existing housing shortage in growing municipalities with adapted housing markets” would not be fulfilled by the law.

Petitions against Section 13b BauGB

Not only the Federal Environment Agency criticizes the law: The Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes statements by Beate Jessel, President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, to the dpa. According to this, building on meadows and fallow land on the edge of small communities is destroying habitats and valuable instruments of environmental and nature protection, and the landscape is being sprawled through the construction of single-family houses – which contradicts the aim of the BauGB to use land sparingly.

The aim of the federal government is actually to reduce the net development of land to 30 hectares a day – but currently it is around 56 hectares a day, which corresponds to 78 soccer fields. Jesse’s point of view: Paragraph 13b BauGB accelerates the consumption of land and stands in the way of the federal government’s 30-hectare target.

The nature conservation association NABU and other environmentalists agree: There are already several online petitions against the extension of the law. The NABU petition went online at the end of June and around 26,000 signatures have been collected so far.

ZIA: Paragraph 13b BauGB supports municipalities

In contrast, the Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA) assessed the situation in a statement from the beginning of July this year from a social perspective: “The ZIA welcomes the […] Planned extension until 2022. The possibility of preparing a development plan in an accelerated process means that construction can be carried out more quickly and, in particular, new living space can be provided more quickly. ” The ZIA does not respond to arguments from environmentalists that it is more important to create new living space in the metropolitan areas.

“However should […] an extension of the regulation of § 13b BauGB can be determined until at least 2032. In this way, long-term procedural paths can be shortened and municipalities, if they want, can be relieved, ”the statement said. Even a complete lifting of the time limit is briefly discussed.

One thing is certain: both the position of politicians and environmentalists are justified. How the federal government will ultimately decide or whether a meaningful middle course can be found remains to be seen.

Image Sources: Sigur / Shutterstock.com

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