Tens of thousands of new apartments will be needed in Frankfurt over the next few years.

This is a huge challenge: the development of new residential areas is opposed to competing uses and the interests of neighbors.

Last but not least, ecological aspects must be taken into account.

This is one of the reasons why construction areas often do not progress quickly.

A particularly extreme example is the new housing development area of ​​light in Bergen-Enkheim.

The first ideas date back to 1977. Now, 45 years later, the approximately 16-hectare site to the east of Frankfurt is being developed.

Construction of the first of around 500 apartments could begin next year.

But schedules have been scrapped several times since the development plan was approved in 2005.

There were difficulties with the groundwater, but species protection issues also had to be taken into account.

Around 1000 sand lizards had to be relocated at great expense.

In other places it is hamsters or redstarts that have to make way for houses.

"Incorporate species protection more into planning"

However, it is not always due to nature conservation that a construction area is delayed.

"We have excessive regulations in building law," complains Klaus Legs, the chairman of the state commission for real estate and building policy of the Hesse Economic Council.

"If you see a sacred cow in every single point, we won't get to building," he said at an event organized by the "Room for the Future Frankfurt Rhein-Main" initiative in the Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK).

Politicians are not willing to make compromises.

His demand: "If we want to build apartments, we have to make a deal with nature."

But whether nature will agree to a deal is questionable: Indra Starke-Ottich, who works as a biologist at the Senckenberg Society for Natural Research and the planning company for nature and the environment, was skeptical.

In the past 200 years, 318 species have become extinct in Frankfurt, she emphasized.

The reasons for this include the intensification of agriculture, the straightening of the river and the cutting effect of roads.

She demanded: "The protection of species must be more involved in the planning." For example, the city can no longer afford fully sealed places.

"Rather, we have to contrast the sealing with a real unsealing."

Less than one parking space per residential unit

The demand, which was not undisputed by the public, was that there should no longer be any development of single-family houses in Frankfurt because of the land use.

Martin Teigeler, Managing Director of the AS+P planning office, shared her opinion.

"People accept dense development, but there must be an attractive environment with well-designed open spaces," said the urban planner.

In order for this to succeed, public space should not primarily be used for traffic.

His recipe is: district garages for cars, less than one parking space per residential unit.

"But we need developers and municipalities that go along with it."

Horst Burghardt (Die Grünen), mayor of the city of Friedrichsdorf until 2021, has found a developer who will build 350 apartments in an eco-settlement.

This quarter is characterized by dense residential forms, energy efficiency, species protection and water management.

"The biggest problem is the surface consumption," he said.

"We have to curb it." That also helps nature: "If you have more open spaces, you can also do more species protection."

But Burghardt also sees a problem with the timing.

The planning of the eco-settlement took eight to nine years.

"I think that's far too long." The processes should be accelerated.

On this point, the experts were largely unanimous.