Urban land use conflicts and options


Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology


Helmholtz funded (POF II, Terrestrial Systems programme, Cluster: "Impact of Urban Dynamics on Land Use Options")




Due to accelerated social changes, regional economic variations and demographic movements,societies are experiencing urban dynamics –with unexpected speed and complexity in the global and in the regional context. Since the start of the 21st century, urbanisation has been the decisive driver of land-use change. In the course of social dynamics demands on land use are becoming highly differentiated and are transforming regions, resulting in the rising and expanding use of vacant areas, such as agricultural land and open spaces. This has led to a growing potential of land use conflicts in particular in regions characterised by high population density and growth. Beyond these types of urban areas, stagnating or shrinking cities and regions are concerned by land-use options and conflicts through densification or perforation processes in the economic, ecological and social dimensions.
Conflicts underlying complex factors are evoked by global and climate change and the necessity to adapt to the recently evoked problems. Land-use conflicts are likewise with both, the classical and the new environmental challenges. To develop solutions is of crucial importance for the urban quality of life in the presence and for our future. The project concentrates on the analysis of related land-use conflicts and the development of land use options.

Project goals

  • Analysing the impacts of social and demographic changes on land use demands and changes,
  • Identifying, analysing and assessing land-use changes focused on the interactions between urban and peri-urban areas and their related land use conflicts,
  • Investigating the influence of urban structure types including different built environment, open and green spaces, on the urban climate and the impacts on the differentiation of urban quality of life,
  • Analysing processes and structures of urban governance at different levels (local, regional, national, EU-level) in relation with land use management.

Methodologically the project aims at developing a set of indicators and at applying the outcome to a sustainable land use management. Central to the research are urban restructuring and housing as well as urban brownfields. A decision support should be given to the policy issues of land use and housing, on the basis of quantitatively derived indicators and the analysis of urban governance. The influence of stakeholders related to land use decisions will also be analysed. Scientific instruments like monitoring and modelling are supporting the analysis of social trends, land use patterns, environmental impacts and governance-processes.

Within the interdisciplinary project different methods will be combined. Consequently, the mix of methods will result in different qualitative and quantitative outcomes being set in relationship to each other:

  • socio-demographic aspects of scenarios
  • land-use options for shrinking and growing urban regions
  • strategies and instruments to steer urban regions
  • transferable modelling approaches for shrinking cities
  • sets of indicators to assess sustainable urban development

The analysis and contextualisation of the project focusses on population development, urban dynamics and land-use changes. The regional focus is on European urban regions, including the comparison between Western and Eastern European cities. The involved scientists have had a long-standing competence in the studies of Eastern European urban regions which will be strengthened in this project. For this reason the project concentrates on urban regions that will be investigated in the following UFZ- projects:

In the project „Urban land-use conflicts and options“ the research strands additionally follow completed projects such as