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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Project Partners

German Institute of Urban Affairs


Difu, the German Institute of Urban Affairs, is the leading urban research institute in the German speaking world. Der Verein für Kommunalwissenschaften e.V. (Association for Municipal Sciences) is the sole shareholder of the research institute, which is run as a non-profit organization. The independent Berlin Institute, which was founded in 1973, has another department in Cologne (Environmental Division). Difu is affiliated with Deutscher Staedtetag, the organization representing most of Germany’s 250 bigger cities. Difu’s objective is to work in the interests of the general public, particularly of the cities, municipalities, associations of municipalities and their enterprises as well as of the citizens by:


  • undertaking interdisciplinary research into the conditions under which the municipalities carry out their responsibilities and providing impulses for further research (basic research),
  • conducting scientific and practical studies of current municipal problems and their solution (action research),
  • developing methodological foundations for municipal development and making them available (application research), as well as
  • scientifically coordinating the knowledge gained from Difu’s own research and external research, reviewing this in the interests of users and transmitting them to the latter.

Difu issues are research on present and future urban demand and tasks, dissemination and education towards administrative staff and political representatives of Germany’s cities, and information management by providing data pools and advice. Difu provides policymakers and civil servants with a basis for decision-making and action. Whether urban development or reshaping, financial or economic policy, environment or transport, social issues or law, local government organization or health promotion Difu deals with topics which are particularly relevant to the Cities and their citizens.
As a community body funded by more than 100 contributors – primarily cities, municipal associations and planning associations - Difu aims to meet the needs of towns and cities and offers a broad range of services: reader-friendly studies and research reports, quality training seminars and specialized information and documentation services disseminate scientific knowledge in a practical way, lead to an exchange of experiences between the municipalities and provide support with implementing planning objectives in municipal administrative practice. 

Project Objectives

Difu is on the one hand knowledge owner and will provide information to the SPECIAL project partners. On the other hand German Municipalities can gain benefit from developments in SPECIAL partner countries in questions of planning and implementation. Difu objective is to collect, prepare and transfer information in both ways.


Verband Region Stuttgart
Verband Region Stuttgart was founded in 1994 to give the Region a political organisation with its own directly elected representatives of the population: the Regional Assembly. It work at ensuring that the Stuttgart Region remains a place where life is worth living, with a strong economy and intact environment. The mandatory tasks given to the Verband Region Stuttgart by law include key issues such as regional planning, local public transport, regional transport planning, landscape planning, business and tourism development and certain aspects of waste management. In terms of voluntary activities, the Region can get involved in sport and culture, among others. The Verband Region Stuttgart plays an active role in German and European networks, in competitions and projects on central future topics.

Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR) - Regional Assoc. Ruhr
The Ruhr Regional Association (RVR) with its offices in Essen, is the regional hub of the 11 independent municipalities and four districts of the Ruhr Metropolis with its approx. 5.2 million inhabitants. The main function of the Ruhr Regional Association is to develop the attractiveness of the Ruhr Metropolis. With regional plans, the Ruhr Regional Association creates the framework conditions for the land use in the cities and communities. Since 2009, the Ruhr Regional Association has been responsible once again for decisions regarding developmental planning in the Ruhr Metropolis. The federal function of regional planning used to be executed by three regional governments; for almost 35 years this has been leading to a trisection in the planning of the Ruhr region.

Vereinigung für Stadt,- Regional,- und Landesplanung (SRL)
The German Association for Town, Region and State Planning is a network of 2000 planning experts in Germany. The foundation of the association was in 1969 in Bonn. The organised planning experts are from private offices, municipalities, universities, associations and other institutions. The SRL is political and economically independent. SRL deals with regional significant developments in a anticipatory way to name problems, challenges and chances in planning. This includes also planning relevant political processes and the contact to responsible stakeholders. SRL is involved in legislative procedures for planning and building law. Furthermore the SRL is involved in training and education issues for planners.

Regionalverband FrankfurtRheinMain
The Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region is one of the most important European metropolitan regions in economic terms, and is mentioned in the same breath as London, Paris or Milan. The Regional Authority FrankfurtRheinMain was created by the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region Act passed by the Hesse State Parliament, which came into force on 1 April 2011. We are a constituted body controlling and co-ordinating regional development. We are also the platform for the strategic orientation and aims of regional organisations. In addition we are responsible for the development of a common regional image. Moreover, we draw up and update the regional land development plan and the landscape plan. On top of that we carry out regional monitoring, raise funding, and offer our member local authorities a comprehensive service.

Verband Region Rhein-Neckar (VRRN)

The metropolitan area Rhein-Neckar is at the point of intersection of the German counties of Baden, Hesse and Palatinate. The Verband Region Rhein-Neckar (VRRN) is located there. It is a cross-border association which is responsible for areas in the three counties. The region includes 7 counties and 8 county-free cities with altogether 2.4 million inhabitants. Verband Region Rhein-Neckar represents the interests of 280 municipalities. Therefore it is an organization where the political decision-making is localized. Verband Region Rhein-Neckar was founded in 2005 with a treaty between the German countries of Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden Württemberg and Hesse

Verband Region Rhein-Neckar is responsible for the cross-border regional planning and land use planning in the metropolitan area Rhein-Neckar. Furthermore the association administrates tasks for different areas of the common regional development. One of the main tasks is the planning of a sustainable energy supply which considers economic, safety and environmental aspects. Therefore is the energy sector a core issue for regional planning and development – under named aspects – in the Rhein-Neckar region.

You can find more information to the Verband Region Rhein-Neckar here.

Zweckverband Großraum Braunschweig 

The “Zweckverband Großraum Braunschweig (ZGB)“  coordinates common duties and responsibilities which have an impact on the whole region.  The municipalities of the region are planning and organising in their areas on local level.
The “Zweckverband Großraum Braunschweig (ZGB)“  includes the independent cities of  Braunschweig, Salzgitter und Wolfsburg and the counties  Gifhorn, Goslar, Helmstedt, Peine and Wolfenbüttel. The region has 1,15 Million inhabitants and a total area of 5.124 square kilometre.

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Climate Protection Action in Germany

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Jun 2013
Wind power vital to UK energy security, economy and environment

The Government's decision to change planning guidance to allow for a local veto of onshore wind could have a profound impact on the environment and our economy, warns leading planning charity the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

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Mar 2013
Powering the future:  New European project to build UK planners’ renewable energy skills

Leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is about to begin its most ambitious European project to date. SPECIAL (Spatial Planning & Energy for Communities in All Landscapes) will seek to build the capacity of planners and other built environment professionals in delivering local renewable energy solutions over the next three years.

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Contact Details

Maic VerbĂĽcheln
Senior Expert
+49 (0)30 39001 263