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Spatial Planning in Netheralnds

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Spatial Planning in the Netherlands

Marleen van denTop

Germany

Greenstructures and Urban Planning

Green areas in Dutch urban legislation

Introduction

Internationally, the Dutch tend to promote themselves because of their progressive role on nature conservation and nature development. Nationally however they stand for the challenging task to accommodate too many land claims for too small a country.

 

Present State Legislation

General legislation

Green areas in the Netherlands which have the best legal protection are those areas within the 'Ecological Main Structure'. Since the Netherlands is quite densely populated, parts of this structure can be found in the vicinity of cities. Through the 'compensation principle', those who take initiative to build are do certain activities in this Ecological Main Structure will have to compensate for this. Of course the European Habitats- en Birds directives in particular have a strong influence on this national legislation, especially on the question whether the national legislation is in conformity with these directives. Increasingly, non governmental organisations or local government agencies find their way to 'Brussels' to voice their concerns about building initiatives or activities that they think might be conflicting with the European directives.

(Relevant laws and policies: 'Natuurbeschermingswet', 'Structuurschema Groene Ruimte' and its accompanying 'Planologische Kernbeslissing', Flora en Faunawet, Wet Ruimtelijke Ordening)

Specific policies in relation to green

There is a special national policy for green areas in cities. This policy is called "Green in and around Cities". However, a lack of funds is presently hampering cities to implement their plans. Very relevant is the recent Fifth national policy document on spatial planning (this is a spatial planning key decision).

This Fifth national policy document on spatial planning (of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment) introduces the concept of 'green' and 'red' contourlines. Green contourlines are drawn around green areas of national or regional importance. Red contourlines will have to limit urban growth. This approach leads to both support and criticism. In my own impression, supporters can generally be found among nature and environmental organisations and among those who believe in the ability of the state to control developments. Critics can be found among those who believe in combinations of functions, such as 'green commercial areas' and 'green living'. Quite common is the concern that red contour lines around urban networks stimulate an overactive search for open spaces within the urban system, which would then lead to a deterioration of the quality of urban life. It is therefore that even more recently, the bundelingsgebieden (concentration areas) were introduced to be part of the Fifth report. These concentration areas specifically concern the urban networks. The municipalities within the urban networks have to draw their red and green contourlines together. In the definition of concentration areas, special emphasis is put on the maintenance and/or development of open spaces. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries recently introduced in their Structuurschema Groene Ruimte (national structure plan for one policy sector, also accompanied by a Planologische Kernbeslissing) the policy category of 'regional parks', which are located in urbanizing regions.

 

Types of Plans according to the State legislation (Policy Instruments)

The most important legislative basis for spatial planning in the Netherlands is the Wet op de Ruimtelijke Ordening (spatial planning act). This is 'framework legislation' which delegates tasks to the national government, to the provinces or to the municipalities.

National level:

The Planologische Kernbeslissing (national spatial planning key decision)

Regional level:

The Streekplan (regional plan: province-based, three or four per province)

Local level:

The Structuurplan (structure plan)

The Bestemmingsplan (local land use plan)

The Stadsvernieuwingsplan (urban renewal plan)

Except the local land use plan, which is directly legally binding, all other plans are indicative. The provinces are mediator between national policies and municipal development initiatives.

Regulation of the green areas by regional or local levels, according to the State legislation

(e.g. the Spanish State rules that there should be a certain quantity of green per dwelling.)

There is no national law in the Netherlands containing compulsory, quantitative norms on the amount of green space per dwelling or per inhabitant. The planologische kengetallen (planning data 1992: 1654) concludes that government norms vary considerably. Mostly a distinction is made between green at different scales, for example: building block, neighbourhood, district, city quarter, region. The guidelines of the Province of South Holland are often taken as point of departure (1978). Norms that are often used are: 13 m2 per inhabitant, excluding 4m2 water (total 17 m2 per inhabitant). Depending on the scale and distance between houses and the rural landscape, the norms are differentiated. E.g. living areas with less than 30.000 inhabitants have a lower norm. Per dwelling, a norm of 35m2 per dwelling is mostly used.

Municipal Master Plan

The Dutch planning system allows for spatial planning at each level of government but only the municipal land use plan is directly legally binding. Every building initiative has to pass this land-use plan. The land-use plan has to be approved by the provincial executive. The national government also has corrective powers. There have been many discussions in the Netherlands on the 'Article 19 - procedure. Article 19 allows exemptions to be given in areas for which a preliminary decree has been issued indicating that a plan is in preparation, or where the drafte for a revision to the plan has been put on public display. This provision has been used very often by municipalities to allow developments.

Other plans

Structure plans are important tools at both municipal and provincial planning. They are an integrative approach to the spatial configuration in an area. Some years ago there has been quite some criticism in the 1980s on these structure plans. At present there is a revival.

Relevant Literature

European Union (Regional policy and cohesion) (1999); The EU Compendium of spatial planning systems and policies.

Faludi, A. and Van der Valk, A.J. (1994); Rule and order; Dutch planning doctrine in the twentieth century, Kluwer Academic Publischers, Dordrecht.

Mastop, H. (1997). Performance in Dutch spatial planning: an introduction. In: Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 1997, volume 24, pages 807 &emdash; 813.

National data on planning systems

Italy

Spain

Norway

Netherlands

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