Tense market meets growing city: Berlin needs more than a quarter of a million new apartments by 2040

Tense market meets growing city: Berlin needs more than a quarter of a million new apartments by 2040

The Senate Department for Urban Development assumes that a total of 272,000 additional apartments will have to be built in Berlin by 2040. This emerges from the working documents for the “Urban Development Plan for Housing 2040”, which are available in the Tagesspiegel.

The basis for the assumption is, among other things, the population forecast. Accordingly, the population of Berlin could increase from the current 3.77 million (April 2023) to around four million people by 2040. From this alone there is an additional need of 85,000 apartments, according to the documents.

However, most of the demand for new construction is due to the tight housing market. In order to combat this, new construction is “indispensable”. Overall, the relief requirement by 2040 is 137,000 new apartments. However, the focus should be on “activation in the next five years”.

20,000 apartments are to be built per year

In the short term, the demand thus coincides with the current new construction targets from the “Urban Development Plan for Housing 2030”. According to this, 20,000 new apartments are to be built every year. If this goal is achieved, the housing market could relax from 2028, it is said. In the following years, the need for new construction would decrease accordingly. However, due to the crisis in the construction industry, it is considered unrealistic that this annual mark will be achieved.

In addition to the need due to demographics and the tense housing market, the Senate also anticipates a so-called space provision requirement of 50,000 apartments by 2040. Suitable areas are to be “prepared in planning” for this purpose, but “not yet built on”. These should serve as a precaution in the event of increased immigration to Berlin: a lesson from the years 2015 and 2022, when several 10,000 refugees came to Berlin.

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Not enough space in the long term

The new “Housing Urban Development Plan” is to be approved by the Senate at the turn of the year. It was first adopted in 2014 and has been updated regularly ever since. The paper is not about concrete construction projects or plans. Rather, the most realistic possible need for apartments for the growing city should be determined. The resulting new construction figures have regularly been missed in recent years.

In addition, the urban development plan also deals with the space requirements for the new building – and will therefore have an influence on future changes in Berlin’s land use plan. Urban development plans – in addition to housing, there are also plans for business, centers, mobility and transport, infrastructure planning and climate – “mainly serve to provide space” and “enable planning law control,” it says.

“In the short and medium term, there is just enough potential available, provided this is also successfully activated,” analyzes the urban development administration. For the long-term perspective, however, there is “a deficit that requires the identification of additional long-term potential to be developed”. Industrial areas that will no longer be used in the future, or the areas around the A103 and A104, the demolition of which has already been decided, are conceivable here.

The area analysis also influences where and to what extent the Senate sees potential for the new building. According to this, 25 percent of the demand could be covered by large-scale projects of often several thousand apartments, which are often built on the outskirts of the city.

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The same applies to the so-called “background noise” – construction projects of less than 50 apartments. This means, above all, closing gaps, building over commercial buildings and adding storeys. The remaining 50 percent could be allocated to projects with 50 apartments or more.

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