Public construction and planning law

Whether it involves nature conservation or species protection, listed building preservation or fire protection, parking space planning or public transport connections, all planning measures must take into account countless legislative frameworks, which are constantly changing and evolving.
Boasting one of the largest and most experienced teams in Germany with eight lawyers specialising in administrative law and possessing considerable expertise in the real estate and construction sector – which is renowned throughout the market – the experts at FPS deal with all matters concerning construction planning and building regulations in the public sector. As such, they are well placed to give their clients comprehensive advice geared towards finding solutions – from the initial planning idea to the realisation and sale of the project, from the modernisation of existing projects to asset management. 

Other key areas of expertise in the field of public construction and planning law at FPS include the conversion of old sites and the renovation of existing properties.

Environmental law  

The protection of natural resources, the limiting of the harmful effects of environmental hazards and binding regulations on substances and objects hazardous to the environment are now firmly anchored in society’s consciousness as matters of high priority. Nowadays, environmental law is governed by many highly complex regulations, most of which are shaped by European law. 

Environmental law is also highly relevant in connection with real estate and construction projects. The experts at FPS combine their experience in this field with comprehensive and broad knowledge of environmental law – when it comes to dealing with contaminated sites and waste, for example, or emissions control and species protection. 

At FPS, the focus here is on land-use planning, building permits, land access, planning approval procedures, neighbourhood and administrative law, as well as summary proceedings and legal action.

Specialisation

  • Waste management law

    Waste management law is regulated by a large number of (mostly European) legislative acts. Product-related waste management law in particular – especially with regard to the handling of packaging material – is increasingly of huge practical relevance at the present time. Waste management policy is mainly concerned with avoiding and recycling waste. The medium-term goal is to recycle all municipal waste in an environmentally friendly manner. We advise our clients on all matters relating to waste management law, including product design, the organisation of waste disposal operations, the drafting of exemption, licensing and disposal agreements, and the planning and approval of waste disposal facilities, such as biogas and composting plants, processing plants, incineration plants and landfill sites.

  • Contaminated sites

    After purchasing a property or in the course of carrying out construction work, property owners often receive an unwelcome and unexpected surprise in the form of contaminated sites, harmful soil pollution and fly-tipping. The financial implications are usually considerable, not least because the authorities almost always turn to the property owner in the first instance. Furthermore, pursuant to case law, the owner is liable to pay the costs for the removal of the contamination at least up to the market value of the land. We find economically viable solutions for plant operators, housing associations and individuals who own or manage real estate. Even though it is not always possible to avoid recourse to legal protection in (summary) proceedings, we endeavour to negotiate swift, permanent solutions in the interest of our clients. 

  • Listed building preservation

    Conferring listed status on a building has far-reaching and restrictive implications for the owner. That’s because once this status has been granted, all construction work carried out on and within the building – and in some federal states even mere changes of use – require a special permit from the relevant authority that deals with listed buildings (known in Germany as the Denkmalschutzbehörde). We advise and assist clients when liaising with the listed building authorities and other competent authorities and go through their options for dealing with any restrictions imposed under listed building law.

  • Neighbour law

    The high value placed on property ownership in Germany necessitates a considerable number of neighbour regulations that govern the legal relationships between landowners. In both public and private law, there are a whole range of regulations that attempt to strike this balancing act and play a major role when it comes to approving or revising construction projects in particular. Since neighbour law is notorious for its high potential for conflict, it is often a good idea to come to an arrangement where a satisfactory settlement is reached in the interests of both parties. We have built up considerable experience over a number of decades in the negotiation and conclusion of such neighbourhood agreements. This can particularly be seen in the neighbourhood agreements covering many of the high-rise buildings in Frankfurt am Main, for example.

  • Refurbishment and renovation of existing properties

    With sustainability in mind, there is a trend in the construction industry towards preserving and repositioning existing properties. Existing buildings are gutted and modernised. When a building is refurbished, part of the existing structure is usually preserved, but in contrast to renovation works, much of the interior architecture is removed. As a result, the technology, room height or insulation can be updated. Such processes require careful technical, professional and legal coordination with all parties and particularly with the licensing authorities. We have successfully been involved in countless such refurbishments of all sizes throughout Germany and have outstanding expertise in this area.

  • Parking spaces

    In accordance with all state building regulations, evidence of car and bicycle parking spaces must be provided when undertaking new construction projects or modifying existing buildings. To this end, almost every municipality in Germany has passed its own parking space by-laws, which specify precisely what this obligation to create parking spaces requires. In densely developed city centres where there is a desire to ease the traffic by reducing private transport use, this issue often involves a great deal of work when liaising with the relevant authorities, and we are happy to draw on our expertise to help our clients.

  • Access

    Every construction project must have a secured access route before it can be approved. This is mainly to ensure that the fire brigade can access the site and waste can be disposed of safely. With site developments in particular, access roads usually still have to be built, which in practice is usually done by the developer on a contractual basis (by means of an Erschließungsvertrag, or land development contract). Drawing on our decades of experience in advising clients on site developments of all sizes, we help to conclude such land development contracts and provide support with all related issues.

  • Species protection

    The protection of biodiversity is a matter of the utmost priority within the legal system. International species protection agreements exist alongside federal and state regulations to ensure that protected species of fauna and flora are not compromised or even endangered. The provisions under species protection law are of huge importance when drawing up plans and making planning decisions, since non-compliance with these provisions almost always results in the failure of a project. We have extensive experience and expertise in dealing with this specific matter – with its high degree of practical relevance – and advise our clients on all planning and project approvals where species protection provisions must be observed.

  • Nature conservation law

    The conservation of natural resources is a matter of the utmost priority within the legal system and is governed by many different regulatory provisions. Impact mitigation and offsetting regulations, compensation planning and what are known as eco-accounts have considerable practical relevance alongside species protection standards when drawing up plans and working on construction projects, but at the same time the use of these instruments is highly prone to errors. Due to the high value placed on these standards, the infringement of nature conservation regulations can often lead to the failure or legal contestability of projects. We possess extensive experience and expertise in dealing with this matter – with its high degree of practical relevance – and advise our clients on all planning and project approvals where nature conservation provisions play a role.

  • Emissions control

    Practically all major projects are now subject to complex environmental standards and requirements. Compliance with them is mandatory, which sometimes makes it difficult to realise such projects. The corresponding permits satisfy both the legally standardised environmental concerns and the economic interests of the investor. We have considerable expertise in managing this ever-changing legal matter and dealing with the regulations in the course of the necessary official procedures. In addition, we advise plant operators in the field of emissions trading. We work with associations to actively shape emissions trading law and help to provide feedback on the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Act (TEHG). Our influence on the normative area of this legal field enables us to find efficient solutions that can be quickly put into practice.

  • Conversion

    The conversion of areas formerly used for public purposes – generally old barracks or railway sites – into building land gives municipalities the opportunity to create new residential or commercial areas and even entire districts. The issues that need to be considered and dealt with here are usually highly complex. We have worked on numerous such projects throughout Germany and have a considerable degree of expertise in this area.

  • Planning approval

    Major infrastructure projects such as railways, tram systems, airports, roads or power plants are approved by means of a planning approval procedure. This is a very formalised and complex approval process involving extensive public participation. We have worked on numerous such projects with success and have a considerable degree of expertise in this area.

  • Regional planning

    Regional planning is the lower level of state planning at the point where state development planning and municipal land-use planning intersect. Regional planning resolves conflicts involving use of space, sets the regional spatial development targets for the municipalities and integrates municipal development ideas. For the municipalities, the spatial planning targets are binding when drawing up their development plans. Regional planning therefore has to contend with a high potential for conflict. Since any amendment to the regional plan is a time-consuming and lengthy procedure, many projects can only be realised with certain deviations from the set spatial planning targets. We are very familiar with these highly specialised procedural steps and have often worked on such projects and development plan procedures at the point of intersection with regional planning.

Awards

WirtschaftsWoche Top Law Firm for Environmental and Public Planning Law
2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020

Publications on this topic

Dr. Thomas Schröer
Bau-Turbo oder Blame Game?
NVwZ - Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht, Heft 7/2024,
Dr. Thomas Schröer
Warum der Bau-Turbo verpufft Das Städtebaurecht braucht keine Reform
FAZ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nr. 58, , S. 21
Dr. Cedric Vornholt
Rechtlicher Rahmen der Baumschutzfachlichen Baubegleitung
FLL-Verkehrssicherheitstage, 2023, S. 135-146

Events on this topic