Investigation of the central places of basic supply for the development of basic central definitions of services of general interest in the Main-Rhön region (2018-2020)

As almost everywhere in Germany, the average age of the population in the Main-Rhön planning region continues to rise. However, the demographic developments in the 123 member municipalities of the region are heterogeneous. On the one hand, the population will continue to decline in the coming years in many peripherally located, rather rural municipalities; on the other hand, stable population figures and even slight population increases are expected, especially along the central transport axes and in the larger cities. These age-related and spatially differentiated changes in demand mean that services of general interest must be adapted to the demographic development in the municipalities in the medium and long term. In the course of adapting the regional plan to the current regional development programme (Section 2 LEP) with a focus on services of general interest, the planning committee of the Main-Rhön Regional Planning Association decided in 2018 to jointly update the chapters Part A "Objectives and principles for the sustainable supra-disciplinary development of the spatial structure" (especially Chapter A III "Central places") in conjunction with Chapters B V "Social and health services" and B VI "Transport".

S&W prepared an expert opinion on the development of basic-centre designations for services of general interest in the regional plan, in particular on the designation of central places for basic services as part of the update of the Main-Rhön regional plan. The aim of this report was to provide information on the current and future situation of facilities for the provision of public services in the region and to make statements on the possibilities for securing central places of public services in the regional plan for the next 10 to 15 years. Along with the updating of the regional plan, the planning region was faced with the concrete challenge of securing the necessary services of general interest and enabling equal living conditions in all sub-areas.

Despite the objective of a spatial concentration of functions, the LEP permits a division of the functional performance of the central-location service mandate between municipalities in exceptional cases, if this is spatially or functionally necessary. In order to be able to control and secure the comprehensive supply of the population with public and private facilities and services as well as jobs within a reasonable distance in the long term, it was recommended to the regional planning association to define a catalogue of facilities (with minimum standards) for basic centres.

Based on an analysis of the facilities of general interest in the Main-Rhön region, S&W conducted a detailed empirical study of the central places and prepared a proposal for a restructuring of the central places for basic services and local areas in the Main-Rhön region in preparation for a decision. The main criteria for restructuring the central places for basic services and local areas were the basic central amenities, the viability of the services on the basis of the number of inhabitants in the local area and the accessibility of the central places from the residential locations from the perspective of the population.