Deteriorating town centers, “condensed” stadte

Decaying town centers,'verdichtete' stadte

Heavily contested ground. The Tempelhofer Field in Berlin. Photo: Gregory Varnum / CC BY-SA 4.0

Debate about land consumption and new construction of single-family homes seems to come at an inopportune time, but shows that concepts for more quality of life in the city and the countryside are lacking

No, neither the head of the Grunen parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter, nor the outgoing head of the Left Party, Bernd Riexinger, have come out in favor of a ban on the construction of new single-family homes. But after just under a year of Corona decreases, it was clumsy of Hofreiter, at least from an election campaign point of view, to problematize this form of housing – not only because of the single-family home owners, but also because at the moment, according to surveys, a great many people are considering whether they can somehow afford it after all.

Rarely have home and garden owners been so envied by people living in coarse city apartments as in times of "Social Distancing" and closed recreational places – and seldom have city dwellers attached so much importance to their common ground and open spaces, on which at the moment people like to dance in the snow with a distance of three to four meters.

Many of them would therefore agree with Riexinger, at least in part: "We must reduce land consumption for social and climate protection reasons", he told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, after Hofreiter had kicked off the debate with similar statements. "Therefore, we cannot continue with the single-family houses as before. Instead, we should increase the density in cities and build on land in such a way that more housing comes out – especially more affordable housing", so Riexinger further.

Clearly, with the Eigentumerverband house reason or in the case of the CDU, which also included Hofreiter and the Grunen to the "political left" pays and in front of a "Prohibition Party" such renovations are not met with approval. "Densification" But it also has what it takes to be an irritant in left-wing alternative milieus who, under normal circumstances, appreciate coarse city life, but with sufficient land – even if some of them are themselves dependent on permanently favorable rents.

Example Tempelhofer Feld

This dilemma is illustrated by the dispute over the former Tempelhofer Feld airport site in Berlin. Its development on the outskirts was stopped by a referendum in 2014 after the citizens’ initiative "Tempelhofer Feld" was rejected "100 percent Tempelhofer Feld" had started a petition for a referendum and collected enough signatures. Since then, Tempelhofer Feld has been regarded as an inner-city biotope and recreation area – especially for people who will not be able to afford a little house in the green in the foreseeable future.

The densely built-up inner cities of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the summer temperatures can be up to ten degrees higher than in the surrounding areas, are a good example of an urban climate that poses a health risk due to insufficient ground space. Especially for people with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases the risk of death increases during such heat waves.

Due to the lack of affordable housing in Berlin, however, MieterEcho, the magazine of the Berliner Mietergemeinschaft e. V., The people’s referendum has been critically reported, because the "red-black" Senate had agreed with the investors that at least 50 percent of the planned there 4.700 apartments should not fall into the luxury segment.

Once completed, they were to be offered for net rents of between six and eight euros per square meter, in order to create a "social mix" to guarantee. The core of the Tempelhofer Feld with an area of 230 hectares would not have been affected by the construction plans. However, the citizens’ initiative feared that it would not stop there and also referred to vacant and misused apartments in Berlin.

In 2014, for example, there was a majority against fringe development – at least among the 46.1 percent of eligible voters who cared enough about the ie to cast their ballots. Of them, 64.3 percent voted for the law to preserve Tempelhofer Feld.

Six years later, the Berlin FDP initiated a petition for a referendum to the contrary, but stopped collecting signatures for the time being in January of this year – the background to this was the current development of the pandemic, it said as a justification.

The initiative "100 percent Tempelhofer Feld" had accused the FDP of a cheap campaign maneuver, "to get over the five percent mark in next year’s elections under the guise of citizen participation". The appreciation for the local recreation area had increased again during the pandemic, referred the spokeswoman of the initiative, Lisa Wiedekamm, according to Tagesspiegel in the fall to up to 90.000 visitors on sunny days.

Also a traffic policy problem

Caren Lay, spokeswoman on rental policy for the Left Party in the Bundestag, sees solutions to the dilemma of land consumption in cities and rural areas, for example, in mandatory solar energy for new buildings and roof gardens, which she believes should be made public: "They provide a better urban climate, a recreational area for people, and serve to preserve biodiversity", Lay told Telepolis on Monday. "In the demand of city-ground the Federal Republic stands still completely at the beginning." Instead of demanding the construction of new single-family homes and thus the urban sprawl of villages with the homeowner’s allowance, while old village centers decay, Lay suggests, "to demand a careful reconstruction of the old building fabric in the village centers with public money, which is climate-protective and corresponds to modern requirements".

In fact, a number of single-family homes are vacant in Berlin’s surrounding areas, too – they are halfway affordable above all in places where life without a car is no longer possible because the next train station cannot be reached by foot or by bike, at least in winter. Those who want to live close to nature and "nevertheless" If people want to get around in an environmentally friendly way, they are therefore often dependent on investments in rail and local public transport.

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