Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Recent Changes in the Dutch Planning System: Towards a New Governance Model?

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Recent Changes in the Dutch Planning System: Towards a New Governance Model?

Article excerpt

As with several other countries, The Netherlands is currently facing major changes in its planning system. Since the 1980s a shift has become apparent from government to governance in spatial planning. Nevertheless, many original regulations and instruments have remained intact. Following adoption of the proposed changes, the planning system should be more tailored to current requirements. This paper looks into those changes in the planning system which affect the governance model. It concentrates on the new model for governance (as presented in the National Spatial Strategy), the new Spatial Planning Act, additional land policy instruments, and the institutional organisation at the regional level. The paper concludes by relating the changes to the governance debate.

In the last few years individualisation, globalisation, and developments in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) have left their mark on the spatial organisation of society and, partly as a consequence of that, on spatial forms. The spatial patterns of social and economic interactions within the physical space have become increasingly complex. The level of uncertainty to he anticipated concerning spatial developments has increased considerably. This insecurity is related to an increased freedom of choice that leads to an enlarged variety of spatial outcomes. One of the most striking developments is the disappearance of the hierarchical planning (based on central place theory) of interaction patterns. There is evidence in society and in the economy of a continuous spatial increase in scale. As a result of more advanced and more widely applied ICT and the development of transport technology and transport systems, the significance of distance and transport costs as limiting factors in the domains of both production and consumption is steadily declining. The necessity for the proximity of the various phases of many production columns is diminishing. Mobility is still increasing; not only the spatial patterns, but also the associated action radii are changing markedly. Particularly in urban networks, where a broad variation of types of centre are developing, the 'traditional' pattern of mobility directed to the city centre is shifting increasingly in the direction of criss cross mobility in which the city centre may have a place, but quite often does not. Cities are developing into polynuclear urban regions (Spaans et al., 2003; 2004). As a consequence, the regional level is gaining importance in spatial interventions. In addition to changes in the spatial expression of activities, the manner in which government authorities give direction to spatial intervention is also undergoing change.

The above-mentioned development trends also apply to The Netherlands. Both planning policy and instruments and the way in which government authorities are giving direction to this process are the subjects of change. As in many other countries, the Dutch government has come to the realisation that both the way in which government gives direction to planning intervention and the planning system which forms the context for spatial interventions are ripe for renewal. In many countries this process has already been set in motion and there are proposals for changes in the governance model, spatial planning policy, new planning instruments, and new approaches to finance and implementation. Now that social, economic and spatial trends influence planning practice, the way in which Dutch government steers this process is also undergoing considerable change. International spatial planning academics and practitioners have always considered The Netherlands to be a flagship, and therefore the way and the direction in which this process is happening are of interest to planning specialists in other countries particularly those involved in a comparable process.

This paper places the Dutch changes within the discourse on the shift from government to governance. …

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