Managed retreat

Law and planning in the context of climate and demographic change


Climate and demographic change are two challenges with which settlement development has to deal with, especially in the context to residential, industrial and infrastructure development. Even if adaption strategies, within the meaning of preventive measures in the existing building stock, are still preferred, managed retreat as an option must be taken into consideration in certain endangered areas.


Analysis of the legal feasibility, prior to implementation of concrete measures linked to managed retreat, to adapt the legal and administrative framework if necessary and to facilitate the enforcement of existing standards.

Research questions

  • Which legal regime is necessary for managed retreat in the context of climate and demographic change?
  • Which regulations are in the readiness for managed retreat? Which regulation maybe opposed to managed retreat?
  • Which arrangements are able to prevent non-resilient structures of settlements in future?
  • What kind of experiences are already existing in this context (e. g. retreat from surface mining areas or areas threatened by flooding, urban renewable strategies or land reparcelling) and what can be deduced from these?


The used methods are depending on the different disciplines and research questions. So the study of already happened retreats is based on publications, planning documents and expert interviews. The analysis of the legal framework is based on examination of the relevant norms to determine opportunities and limits by legal interpretation methods. To derivate judicial recommendations and to support the results it is necessary to seek the dialog with experts from involved disciplines from practice and science.


The results allow a systematic deduction of the legal regime, account to different levels and actors, for the following four retreat strategies: 1. compulsorily retreat, 2. incentive-based retreat, 3. voluntary based retreat and 4. portfolio approach under the options 1 – 3. Basis for this is respectively a total and a part retreat of settlement structures.

The findings linked to planning and construction laws, regulatory law and other regulations in the context to retreat strategies, should be transferred into legal advices. From the point of view of planning and construction laws modifications of the German Regional Planning Act (ROG) and the German Federal Building Code (BauGB) are in the foreground. Formerly unanswered questions and further research requirements will be depicted.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.