Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Identifying and Conceptualising Context-Specific Barriers to Transit-Oriented Development Strategies: The Case of the Netherlands

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Identifying and Conceptualising Context-Specific Barriers to Transit-Oriented Development Strategies: The Case of the Netherlands

Article excerpt

Transit-oriented development strategies (TODS) aim for transit and land use integration by 'concentrating urban development around stations in order to support transit use, and develop transit systems to connect existing and planned concentrations of development' (Curtis et al., 2009, 3). TODS promise to counter urban sprawl and car dependence whilst promoting economic development and are embraced by practitioners from many cities and regions, even though evaluation and proof of such claims are not yet definitive (Al-Dubikhi and Mees, 2010; Bertolini, 2000; Madanipour, 2001; Næ ss et al., 2011). Many of these efforts, however, experience difficulty during implementation (Ayres and Pearce, 2004; Clifford et al., 2005; Curtis, 2008; Næ ss et al., 2011; Marsden et al., 2011). There is an abundance of literature on the barriers to the implementation of sustainable transport (Banister, 2004; Hull, 2010; Vigar, 2000). However, a systematic analysis of these barriers, in relation to TODS, is lacking (Marsden et al., 2011; Paulley and Pedler, 2000).

Successful TODS implementation exists when metropolitan areas move away from a car-oriented, sprawling development path towards a more transit-oriented and compact development, whereby success is not absolute, but rather a relative measure and can translate into different outcomes in different contexts. TODS are by nature extremely complex planning endeavours embedded in a dynamic institutional context (Pflieger et al., 2009). Implementation barriers and opportunities are thus context-specific, which impedes simple learning across different contexts. Given these constraints, the 'copy and paste' approach to the transferral of lessons learnt elsewhere proves inadequate (Renne, 2008; Vigar, 2000). There is no 'one size fits all' problem or solution. Rather, context-specific barriers need to be identified, in order to then look for context-specific ways of overcoming them. However, in the literature there is surprisingly little discussion on how to achieve this contextualisation of problems and solutions, which is a significant knowledge gap. This paper aims address this gap by focusing on the first step of the process: the identification of barriers. An approach will be proposed and tested through application -namely, the case study of TODS implementation in the Netherlands.

TODS implementation difficulties are experienced in the Netherlands, despite the numerous national, regional and local policies implicitly supporting TODS within a supposedly strong planning system with a multitude of regulations and programmes (VROM-Raad, 2009; Needham, 2005). The difficulties experienced by practitioners could be attributed to the changing planning context of trying to adapt to new forms of collaboration under less than ideal financial and political circumstances (Janssen- Jansen et al., 2012). This makes the Netherlands an interesting case for our inquiry because in comparison to cases abroad, such as those in the United States, Australia, Asia and elsewhere in Europe, it is likely that some context-specific barriers exist in the Netherlands requiring targeted interventions beyond the scope of conventional national planning practice or internationally acknowledged 'best practices' (Cervero, 1998; Curtis et al., 2009; Dittmar and Ohland, 2004).

Thus, the central question to be addressed here is how to identify context-specific barriers to TODS implementation. A four-step approach combining deductive and inductive research processes is proposed and applied to the 'hypothesis-generating case' (Lijphart, 1971, 692) of the Netherlands. This results in a conceptual model illustrating the interaction and relation of barriers. Whether the approach can be useful in other cases experiencing difficulty in TODS implementation is discussed in the conclusion. The institutional context and complexities of the case will be introduced next, followed by a description of the methodology for identifying barriers and their application. …

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