Metropolitan Governance and Spatial Planning: Comparative Case Studies of European City-Regions

By Willem Salet; Andy Thornley et al. | Go to book overview

11

Amsterdam and the north wing of the Randstad

Willem Salet


Introduction

Back in the mid-1950s, Peter Hall labelled the west of the Netherlands a 'greenheart metropolis'. The region was then renamed the Randstad in subsequent National Reports on Spatial Planning. Recently, in the Fifth National Report, the Delta metropolis metaphor was introduced to describe the area (Hall, 1984; Dieleman and Musterd, 1992; Faludi and Van der Valk, 1994; Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, 2001). Nonetheless, the west of the Netherlands has yet to become a coherent, urban area. Although the metaphors suggest strong cohesion and metropolitan unity, it is in fact a vast but fragmented green area of wetlands. Inside this area, around the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and a few smaller conurbations (such as the Gooi - comprising Hilversum, Naarden and Bussum - the Drecht towns and around several smaller towns) distinct patterns of urbanisation have emerged. The significance of these planning metaphors has been a constant subject of debate (Van Eeten, 1999; Salet and Faludi, 2000; Zonneveld and Hajer, 2000). While ties between the separate urban settlements have intensified in the past two decades, most people continue to commute short distances (45 minutes maximum) to work. This mobility is the most intense within the radius of the urban conurbation (Cortie and Ostendorf, 1986; Bontje, 2001). The job and housing markets of Rotterdam and The Hague are starting to overlap in the south wing of the Randstad. In the north wing functional business networks are emerging between the various metropolitan districts. Leiden, Haarlem, Schiphol (Haarlemmermeer), Amsterdam South, the centre of Amsterdam, Almere, Utrecht and Amersfoort are important nodes in these economic networks in the north wing. Ties between the north and south wings of the Randstad, however, remain very tenuous. Besides the considerable distance between them, the economic structure of the north wing (airport-related services, specialised service sectors, and finance, banking and insurance) differs strongly from that of the south wing (seaport, distribution and transportation industries, government centre The Hague). In this chapter I explore the north wing of the Randstad (especially Amsterdam and Utrecht). In the following chapter, Anton Kreukels examines

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