Minister refuses to change spatial plan

29th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

29 June 2004 , AMSTERDAM − The Dutch Cabinet's long-term spatial planning objectives were criticised in Parliament on Monday as MPs demanded fundamental changes and additions to the government's plans for development between now and 2030.

29 June 2004

AMSTERDAM − The Dutch Cabinet's long-term spatial planning objectives were criticised in Parliament on Monday as MPs demanded fundamental changes and additions to the government's plans for development between now and 2030.

But Spatial Planning Minister Sybilla Dekker refused to drastically change her plans, assuring MPs that the government would maintain a 'director's role' − one of the Parliament's main demands.

The Liberal VVD minister recently unveiled a policy note that radically broke from the centralist tradition in which the Dutch government specified in detail what could be built and where, newspaper Trouw reported on Tuesday.

Dekker hopes to decentralise spatial planning to give more authority to lower-tier government bodies and local councils. "I believe in direction, but absolutely not in manipulation," she said.

But a large parliamentary majority − including MPs of the government coalition parties − criticised her for not taking a strong enough director's role, claiming also that the regulations municipal authorities must observe are not clear enough.

The Cabinet has opted in its so-called Nota Ruimte (spatial planning memorandum) to explicitly stimulate the economy. This is in contrast to previous memorandums which sought a balance between the economy and the environment.

Minister Dekker has thus outlined strong investment in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and Rotterdam harbour, giving them a clear field for development. The Cabinet also intends to make an extra 25,000ha available for commercial purposes.

As opposition parties criticised the plans, Labour PvdA Adri Duivesteijn said the memorandum lacked a target image for the "Green Heart" − the relatively sparsely populated region in the centre of the Randstad − and urged for the protection of public space.

Green-left GroenLinks slammed the recent announcement of a EUR 1.7 million investment into the expansion of the Rotterdam harbour, claiming it was a continuation of the "old economy".

And even coalition government parties have raised problems with the memorandum, with the Liberal VVD demanding that project developers invest more in the environment in exchange for construction permits.

A spokeswoman for government party Democrat D66 also said that despite the memorandum's focus on the economy, it did not appear to yield anything in terms of employment or economic growth.

And according to Christian Democrat CDA MP Bas Jan van Bochove, the development of cities in the north and east of the country is not adequately addressed in the memorandum.

The memorandum has identified six city networks, namely the Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), Brabantstad, South Limburg, Arnhem-Nijmegen, Groningen-Assen and Twente, but Bochove believes the memorandum should also include the Friesland network and Zwolle.

The Nota Ruimte outlines how spatial planning can contribute to a strong economy, a safe and livable society and an attractive country. It gives a guideline on policies and issues that need to be addressed between now and 2020 and takes an extended look into the future until 2030.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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