Study: Building plots in cities too: Germany has room for millions of apartments

Studio: Building land also in cities
Germany has room for millions of apartments

The traffic light government wants to build 400,000 apartments a year. A new study confirms that there is sufficient building space for this, even away from the “green field”. However, creativity is in demand in metropolitan areas. For a short-term implementation, the industry requires more political will.

According to a study, there is building land in Germany that can be used in the short term for around two million apartments. About 53,000 hectares of space within cities and communities can be built without much effort, as calculated by the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Space Development and the German Economic Institute for the Ministry of Construction. Almost double is basically also developed. “There is enough building land in Germany,” said construction minister Klara Geywitz. Do you think it is realistic to build around two million apartments on the site. Even with conservative calculations, there is room for 900,000 apartments.

The traffic light government has set itself the goal of building 400,000 apartments annually, 100,000 of which will be subsidized social housing. This can be achieved without taking up too much additional space outside the settlements, Geywitz said. “We cannot afford to waste land economically and ecologically.” The SPD politician promoted the intelligent use of vacant land and vacant lots.

the potential is there

According to Geywitz, the available building land is in rural areas as well as urban areas. “We have potential, from north to south, but also from east to west.” According to the study, there tends to be fewer cities and communities with a lot of free space in counties with higher demand. In general, however, it can be said: “The existing potential is also where it is needed,” stressed Markus Eltges, head of the Federal Research Institute on Construction, Urban Planning and Spatial Development. In urban districts alone, between 370,000 and 740,000 apartments could be built, depending on the building density.

“From the point of view of the studio, there is therefore no need to claim new large areas,” said Eltges. Heidelberg mayor and vice president of the German Association of Cities, Eckart Würzner, also stressed that initially it was not necessary to build on green areas outside the cities.

The Ministry of the Interior could offer opportunities

In large cities with particularly high demand, however, it is also necessary to build on areas that have already been used, Eltges said. This means adding floors to the building, expanding attics and basements, building on backyards and discount courtyards. In this way, several hundred thousand apartments could be built. Geywitz pointed out that the increased conversion to work from home could also convert office space into living space.

“There is land to build on. What matters now is the common will to bring as much affordable housing to the real estate market as possible,” Geywitz stressed. The representative of the city council Würzner called for constant and permanent funding of social housing from the federal and state governments. Furthermore, the building law must be “eliminated”. “Building land that can be used immediately must not be left lying around for speculative purposes.”

The Federal Association of Independent Real Estate and Real Estate Companies called on municipalities to identify building plots and issue building permits quickly and efficiently. “The digital building app is a good tool if it really comes in,” said President Andreas Ibel. The leading association of the German construction industry has asked for a “planning and approval promoter”. Chief Executive Tim-Oliver Müller stressed that material bottlenecks caused by the war in Ukraine are causing more and more problems on construction sites. “Here we can no longer exclude building blocks for a large number of projects.” International supply chains need to be urgently reviewed.

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