While spatial planning in Germany is gradually losing its former significance and influence, a new approach to planning is rising in the country: Heimatplanung (homeland planning). Following the last elections, the former Bavarian Prime Minister, a hardcore conservative and head of the Bavarian wing of the Christian Democratic Party gave up his job in Munich to become Minister of the Interior in Berlin. The main rationale behind his move was to better guide, or rather control, migration policies in Germany, a task, which is traditionally in the hands of the Ministry of Interior.
When he took up his new function, one of the first actions he undertook was to rename the Ministry into Ministerium für Inneres, für Bau und Heimat, on its website not quite accurately translated into Ministry of Interior, Building and Community. This surprising branding of the Ministry reflects a popular mood across Europe in times of globalisation: the rediscovery of the Heimat. This mood, which has caused Brexit, the rightwing movement in France, or the Hungarian attitude towards Europe, are the worries of citizens that they are losing cultural identity.
Instead of ridiculing the action of the Ministry, planners should be wise enough to grasp the retro-denomination of the Ministry as a new chance to revitalise their shattered reputation, and to remind political arenas that protecting the Heimat has always been the overarching aim of spatial planning. Heimat had always had a bad image among academic planners. It reflected conservative cultural and political values and parochialism. Planners did not dare to link the pursuit for Heimat, for protecting local and regional life spaces with their ambitions to guide spatial development. They postulated participation, though they only welcomed participation by those citizens, who share their same liberal values.
Spatial Planning has always been “homeland planning” for people in their homelands, not just planning for investors and developers, promoted and controlled by bureaucrats and lawyers. It could be a window of opportunity to regain respect and influence.
Robert Upton responded to this blog with a Question: Interesting. Is Klaus actually promoting a plurality or contest of ’heimat’?