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Shrinking Cities in the Netherlands

Shrinking Cities in the Netherlands

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Published by Ronald Woudstra
Paper written for a course in "Shrinking Cities" at the Pratt Institute's graduate program in City and Regional Planning.
Paper written for a course in "Shrinking Cities" at the Pratt Institute's graduate program in City and Regional Planning.

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Published by: Ronald Woudstra on Jul 23, 2011
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Ronald Woudstra [student ID: 201207] Course: PLAN 674-P.01 Shrinking Cities Professor: Allan Mallach Master of Science in City and Regional Planning Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development



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Introduction Cities all over the world are dealing with a shrinking population. Population decline is often linked to a decline in the employment base of a city. Shrinking cities are, therefore, often found in older industrial regions. Examples are Detroit, many cities in the north of England, and nearly all cities of former EastGermany. A decline of the urban population can be a problem for several reasons. Businesses can, for instance, find it increasingly hard to find the right personnel, whilst simultaneously they watch the local markets for their products shrink. Housing corporations and people who rent out residences are faced with the problem of vacancies, whilst property owners watch the value of their properties plummet. The local government, faced with a decreasing tax revenue, has to scale back their budget whilst simultaneously attempting prevent the city from becoming even more unpopular and undesirable because of these budget cuts. Those authorities and organizations which are charged with the provision of infrastructural services (such as electricity, waste management, and water) will notice that the demand for their services and products has been scaled back, whilst the costs of providing infrastructure has not decreased significantly (Mulder, 2011). Summarizing, the phenomenon of shrinkage presents challenges to both the remaining residents, the local government, as well as businesses and the commercial sector of the city concerned. Presently, no good strategy to cope with this plethora of problems exists. The phenomenon of shrinkage is often ignored, and even if the phenomenon is acknowledged, responses often exist of attempting to break the cycle of shrinkage by seeking opportunities for new growth. Such a response may not always be feasible, especially when shrinkage is not just occurring in a single city but in the wider region as a whole (Mulder, 2011). Certain possible solutions, such as encouraging immigration, are immediately rejected on political grounds, especially in northern European countries. This paper will focus on shrinking cities in The Netherlands, highlighting the case of the Parkstad Limburg (Park City Limburg) region in the extreme south east of the country. The structure of this paper is as follows: y y y Chapter 1: Shrinking Cities in The Netherlands Chapter 2: Case Study: Parkstad Limburg, a shrinking urban region in The Netherlands Summary and Conclusion


Chapter 1 || Shrinking Cities in The Netherlands The Netherlands might not be the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of countries with shrinking cities. Yet, the country has not been immune to the phenomenon. Cities and urbanized areas situated in the country s outermost periphery, primarily along the German and Belgian borders, have first exhibited shrinkage. The city of Delfzijl, located in the extreme northeast of the country, has been shrinking since 1982 (Ritske, 2004). An example of an entire urbanized region is the Parkstad Limburg (Park City Limburg) region in the extreme southeast of the Netherlands. Municipalities within this urbanized region have joined forces as they have engaged in the drafting of a regional planning strategy in the mid-2000s. However, despite the fact that all municipalities in this region have lost population between 1995 and 2004, the problem of shrinkage was not mentioned in the policy document. Effectively, the region s biggest problem was not acknowledged. This is regrettable, for if the phenomenon of shrinkage is not recognized, no answers to the problem (or other ways of dealing with the phenomenon) can be formulated (Dankert, 2004). As we will see, the planners eventually revisited their policy and sought ways to plan in the context of shrinkage. Any denial of the shrinkage that is occurring can be highly problematic. Indeed, not only will the population shrink in certain cities, the number of households will too, in addition to increasing vacancy rates of the building stock, as well as a growing ageing population (Dankert, 2004). In many respects, trends that were first surfacing in Germany, were also beginning to occur in The Netherlands. Yet, the urban and regional planning framework was not suited to deal with shrinkage. As in Germany, the limits of legislation focused on managing growth were slowly being exposed. And, like the Germany of up until relatively few years ago, planners, geographers and politicians in The Netherlands were not very eager to speak about shrinkage. In a country that has been praised for its way of managing urban growth, recognizing the fact that shrinkage is affecting a growing amount of Dutch cities on a daily basis is perceived to be tremendously difficult. In that respect, much can be learned from German cities which have gained an understanding of how to deal with shrinking cities (Dankert, 2004). §1.1 A turning point: acknowledging shrinkage A major turning point in the debate on shrinking cities has been the establishment of the Kennisinstituut voor bevolkingsdaling en beleid (Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy) in 2006. As the name reveals, the purpose of this think-tank has been to gather information on demographic trends and their effect on society and on policy (Research Institute for Population Decline

and Policy, 2011). The establishment of this institute has been relevant insofar that it has stimulated the debate on shrinkage in The Netherlands. Essentially, the establishment of this institute acknowledges that population decline puts planners and politicians in front of a complex challenge. In a country where planners and politicians have tended to react to a declining population by asking themselves what they have done wrong (and subsequently proceeding to plan new office parks and improve municipal facilities), this was of no small significance. One of the institute s most significant publications includes a map which depicts how widespread the phenomenon of population decline is in municipalities across The Netherlands (figure 1). The map confirms that shrinkage is indeed most widespread at the country s periphery, but also reveals that some more centrally-located municipalities, including some in the very heart of the country s economic center (the west of the country) have been affected by shrinkage or are at risk. However, contrary to the shrinking municipalities in the periphery, the ones in the west are, at times, adjacent to municipalities where there is no shrinkage, showing that shrinkage in the periphery is more structural and widespread. Looking further ahead, it becomes clear that shrinkage will become even more widespread (figure 2). §1.2 Shrinkage: Issues and potential opportunities The Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy (2011) maintains that, whilst population decline is rightfully associated with problems, there are also new opportunities presented by the phenomenon. It is argued that, given the inevitability of certain demographic trends, it is best to address population shrinkage in a timely and sensitive manner. Amongst the problems identified is a decreasing municipal revenue. This has two reasons, the first of which has to do with the way funds collected through taxation are distributed in the Netherlands. There, there are virtually no local taxes; instead, nearly all tax revenue collected from taxpayers goes to the state (i.e., the national government). The state then distributes that tax revenue to individual municipalities based on their population size. A city with a shrinking population thus gets allocated an ever-smaller portion of tax revenue. The second reason for the decreasing municipal revenues has to do with the way land is developed in The Netherlands and with the way urban growth occurs. Similar to land trusts in the United States, there are large portions of land in and around Dutch cities that are owned by the municipality. Whenever there is an interest to develop that land, the municipality sells it to a developer, and revenue is generated. In a shrinking city, there is generally less development occurring; accordingly, a municipality will typically sell less land to developers and thus will not be able to maintain a revenue level established in pre-shrinkage times. Furthermore, shrinking cities cope with a

decreasing support for their facilities, this is reflected in the fact that schools are sometimes threatened to be closed down. In certain neighborhoods with high vacancy rates, the risk of destabilization and impoverishment exists.

Figure 1: Population decline in Dutch municipalities. Source: Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy [map translated to English by author].


Figure 2. Projected population development between 2005 2025, by region. Source: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2006) [map translated by author]


Lastly, a structural undersupply on the labor market can lead to shortages of skilled personnel in those sectors of the local economy that are still growing, particularly health care (Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy, 2011). Though well-aware of the problems posed to cities by shrinkage, the aforementioned institute is quick to point out the opportunities it presents. For instance, the forced demolition of structures in those areas that are earmarked for urban renewal offers opportunities to re-design the public realm in a dignified manner and to create high-quality open spaces. Furthermore, as many older antiquated (municipal) facilities that are being underutilized are demolished, one single new facility can be built and run according to the latest technologies available. Thus, consolidation of (municipal) facilities has an advantage. Additionally, the shortage on the labor market forces companies and businesses to be more innovative and to improve their labor productivity, which allows them to produce just as much with less personnel. Also, educational institutions are re-evaluating their role, as the focus is shifting from helping students get a degree to finding a place on the (local) labor market for them. However, in order for these potential benefits of shrinkage to materialize, city governments must change their way of thinking, and abandon the paradigm of growing for growth s sake. A new vision for the future will need to be embraced, one that functions as the basis for different, but not worse policy decisions. Indeed, a shift from politics of growth to politics of shrinkage, to many council members of shrinking cities, entails a shift from politics of quantity to those of quality. Growth will increasingly be defined in terms of a (newfound) quality of life, which is a notion that is still being explored. (Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy, 2011). §1.3 Research, Planning and Policy: Dutch reactions to shrinkage Despite the advice of the aforementioned institute, there has been a certain reluctance amongst scholars and researchers in the field of urban and regional planning in the Netherlands to embrace the suggestions put forward, or to even acknowledge the urgency to address shrinkage. A 2006 study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency acknowledges that shrinkage creates a new context for cities and the country as a whole, but simultaneously downplays the significance of the phenomenon. Though the study recognizes that shrinkage will occur, it argues that trends in prosperity, mobility, and the trend that spatial phenomena are occurring at an ever-larger scale are more influential to the country s spatial planning. Remarkably, the aforementioned agency perceives current trends in prosperity and mobility to be able to offset the effects of shrinkage.

Shrinkage is, however, perceived to be a catalyst in the urban renewal of weaker neighborhoods, cities and villages (Dankert, 2009). The argument that the aforementioned agency makes, is that the phenomenon of shrinkage is extremely modest compared to (certain regions in) neighboring countries such as Germany, Belgium, or, across the North Sea, the United Kingdom. Additionally, the already modest contribution of shrinkage to the demand for housing is partially offset by a persistent trend towards ever-smaller household sizes. However, in those cities where the total number of households is decreasing, vacancies can start to become more common; in the process, segregation patterns are reinforced and the quality of life in certain urban areas can decrease in the process (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). Dutch municipalities and regional governments that have reacted to, or are acting in anticipation of shrinkage, have tended to increase the quality of the housing stock and to stimulate employment opportunities. This strategy has its pitfalls, as it could pitch various municipalities and regions against each other, since municipalities and regions are trying to compete with each other for the residence of fewer residents and businesses. Ending on a positive note, there are some unique opportunities to shrinkage for The Netherlands. As the most densely populated country in Europe, shrinkage offers an opportunity to decrease the density of certain residential areas, as well as the opportunity to make certain areas greener. Furthermore, in areas where there is a large housing shortage, shrinkage relieves some of the pressure on the housing market. Additionally, vacancies pose an irrefutable and honest indicator about the desirability of certain types of housing as well as certain residential areas (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). The extreme south east of the Netherlands (where the urbanized region of Parkstad Limburg is situated) has been the region where shrinkage has occurred on a regional scale, compared to other shrinking municipalities which are more like sporadic pockets of shrinkage amidst areas with a more healthy economy and population forecast. As figure 3 shows, the population projections for the Parkstad Limburg look particularly grim compared to the rest of the country. The region contains the largest cluster of municipalities which are predicted to shrink by more than 15% between 2005 and 2025. Surrounding this cluster, which harbors more than half of all Dutch municipalities which are projected to experience a shrinkage of 15% or more, are a group of municipalities which are projected to shrink between 10 to 15% or between 5 and 10%. Indeed, the entire extreme south east is bound to experience depopulation. The group of municipalities which are bound to shrink by 15% or more more or less coincide with the boundaries of the Parkstad Limburg.

As the region which has experienced, and continues to experience shrinkage at an unprecedented scale in The Netherlands, Parkstad Limburg is the ideal case study of how the phenomenon of shrinkage has played out (and is indeed still playing out) in The Netherlands.

Figure 2. Projected population development between 2005 2025, by municipality. Source: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2006) [map translated by author]


Chapter 2 || Case Study: Parkstad Limburg, a shrinking urban region in The Netherlands The Parkstad Limburg is situated in the southern portion of the Dutch province of Limburg, which is located in the extreme south east of the country. Parkstad Limburg is a term used to refer to a coalition of municipalities that compose an urbanized area that consists of a large number of relatively small, interconnected urban centers, which are surrounded by (and separated from each other by) green spaces (hence the name, Parkcity Limburg ). This term was proposed to replace the former term by which the region was known: Eastern mining region . The loose, fragmented urbanization pattern is characteristic of the area, and a consequence of the mining which has occurred in the region. The mines were first developed during the first world war. When international trade in war-torn Europe virtually came to a standstill, The Netherlands, as a neutral country, was forced to secure as many resources as possible from its own territory. The then-called eastern mining region developed in the 1920s and 1930s, as workers settled near the coal mines (Wagenaar, 2005). There occurred a shift away from the usage of coal for energy purposes towards the usage of gas in the 1960s. With the closing of the region s mines in the 1960s, the economic engine of the region was lost. As most traces of the region s mining industry have since been erased, the fragmented pattern of urbanization is one of the remaining reminders of the region s past (Wagenaar, 2005). In the years that followed, the former mining region became the Netherlands first example of a shrinking city, being a region that develops insufficient economic impulses to counter the out-migration of its inhabitants (Wagenaar, 2005). §2.1 Demographic shrinkage in Parkstad Limburg As of 1995, the region had 224,000 inhabitants. They lived in three urban communties (Heerlen, 92,600 inhabitants; Kerkrade, 49,600 inhabitants; Landgraaf, 39,500 inhabitants) and four rural communities (Brunssum, 29,800 inhabitants; Voerendaal, 13,000 inhabitants, Simpelveld, 11,400 inhabitants; and Onderbanken, 8,400 inhabitants). Together, these seven municipalities have formed the regional planning coalition that is the Parkstad Limburg (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). The aim of this coalition is to present this collection of municipalities as one integrated city, and to bundle their forces to combat a post-industrial image of unemployment and drug-related issues (Vrolijk & Croé, 2005). In the face of a shrinking population, this has proven to be a difficult task. Furthermore, according to Wagenaar (2005), this regional planning coalition seems intended to bring the shrinkage to a stop, and focuses on revitalization, rather than guided shrinkage. The notion that shrinkage is unavoidable, is deemed to be too pessimistic by this coalition.


Parkstad Limburg has coped with a declining population since 1997. This is remarkable, since the main economic engine of the region collapsed in the 1960s. Since then, the population has continued to grow. However, since 1997, the population declined between 0.29% (2001) and 0.80% (2003) annually. Over the next 20 years (2005-2025), the region is predicted to shrink by 9,000 households, a decline of 8%. Population decline is caused by an increasingly aging population, as well as by an out-migration of educated people. The increasingly rapid population decline has called for a new scenario of spatial development in the region, making Parkstad Limburg the first region in the Netherlands where the need for an alternative paradigm in urban and regional planning and development was needed (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). The city of Kerkrade, the second largest urban center in the region, has been the first municipality to experience structural population decline; the population has peaked at 54,004 inhabitants in 1972. Since then, periods of modest population decline have been followed with periods of modest population growth. Like in the Parkstad overall, population decline in Kerkrade is caused by an increasingly aged population as well as an exodus of the young and educated (Vrolijk & Croé, 2005). Kerkrade is predicted to have 17% less inhabitants in 2025 compared to their 2005 population. In the entire region, older people will become overrepresented, as the region will harbor less and less young people. In 2025, the senior population (aged 65 and above) are predicted to make up 26% of the region s population, where as those under 20 are expected to make up a mere 18% of the region s 2025 population (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). §2.2 Demographic shrinkage and the housing market The demographic shrinkage has several effects on the regional housing market. Remarkably, the demographic shrinkage does not relieve the pressure on the regional housing market. Senior housing will become increasingly scarce. Additionally, there currently still is a shortage of more upscale owneroccupied single family homes. This is partially a consequence of a mismatch between a demand for more spacious housing, versus the type of less spacious housing currently available. However, there will be an excess supply of cheaper housing. Particularly the post-war social housing complexes have been increasingly difficult to rent out; accordingly, residential areas which contain such housing have started to deteriorate (Parkstad Limburg, 2006). As is often seen in shrinking cities, the problems (including vacancies, a lower level of service in terms of municipal facilities, and a deterioration of the built environment) that are associated with demographic

decline are most manifest in the socially weaker neighborhoods. The neighborhood of Heilust in the city of Kerkrade is one such increasingly dilapidated neighborhood. Unemployment in the neighborhood is higher than the already high local average. As a neighborhood which housing stock primarily consists of social housing (half of which was built between 1945 and 1965), population density is rather high. Twenty-five out of the neighborhood s 1,647 residences were vacant as of 2006, yielding a vacancy rate of 1.5%. Remarkably, the vacancy rate in 2006 was lower than the municipal average of Kerkrade (which was 4.3%). Perhaps it is this fact which has contributed to the downward spiral that Heilust is in: those who can afford to leave, do so; the ease with which housing in other parts of the city might be obtained has benefited them. If their spot is being taken at all, it is typically by someone of a lower social status contributing to the descending image of the neighborhood. Furthermore, a lack of concern for the public realm is perhaps fueled by the fact that a vast majority of Heilust s residents are renters who have no vested interest in the neighborhood (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006). Prompted by the state of the neighborhood s housing stock, as well as by its social conditions, Heilust is currently undergoing urban renewal. §2.3 Effects of demographic shrinkage on the regional economy and municipal facilities Economically, the region is heavily dependent on the industrial sector, which is troubled by the increasing competition from countries with lower wages. As a region with a relatively high unemployment and a relatively low level of education, there are many people without the proper starting qualifications required for non-industrial jobs. Furthermore, under-occupied office parks are in abundance in the region. Parkstad Limburg has a total of 90 office parks, which occupy an area of 5930 acres. Of this, the excess capacity is 815 acres, 457 acres of which are immediately available for sale as of 2006 (South Limburg Chamber of Commerce, 2006). This excess capacity can also be found in the retail sector. In the city centers of Heerlen and Kerkrade, vacant stores are highly visible. In Heerlen, for instance, 24% of all retail buildings are vacant. The city of Kerkrade has a total of seven shopping centers, a consequence of the sprawling nature of development which has historically characterized the city (like many others in the Parkstad Limburg). In the context of a rapidly declining population and a dropping number of households, such a level of service cannot be maintained; accordingly, the city of Kerkrade proposes to reduce the number of shopping malls to two. A similar consolidation of facilities and infrastructure is expected to occur in the school system. As the number of elementary pupils is expected to decrease by 20% in nine years, fusions of schools seem unavoidable (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006).

Images: Vacant housing in the Heilust neighborhood of Kerkrade. Image by Bram H. of the Holland Hoogbouw Forum (http://bit.ly/ncPbOv).

Images: closed/ abandoned post office (above) and storefronts (below) in the city center of Kerkrade. Image by Bram H. of the Holland Hoogbouw Forum (http://bit.ly/ncPbOv).


§2.4 Responding to shrinkage: Regional Planning coalition The aforementioned set of municipalities have bundled their forces in 1999, with the creation of Parkstad Limburg , a regional planning institution (whose status was similar to that of the Regional Plan Association in the greater New York area). The institution was born out of a belief that regional cooperation is to be preferred over a situation where each municipality tries to combat shrinkage individually, competing with the other municipalities in the region in the process. Indeed, combating shrinkage was still very much a concern of the individual municipalities. A 2006 study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency cites one local expert on the topic of shrinkage: The thought that we no longer can grow has initially caused resistance, because this does not correspond to the way we think. Building residences and attracting inhabitants was our motivation for a long time [ ] When growth was not achieved, policymakers saw this as proof of their own incapabilities. It damaged their image and their status. The aim of the new institution has been to catch up to the rest of The Netherlands in terms of its socioeconomic position, and to seize the opportunities that arise from being in the vicinity of two neighboring countries (Belgium and Germany). Its title, being the inverse of City Park , hints at the form of urbanization of the region. As opposed to a typical city park that is enclosed by the built environment, Parkstad Limburg is viewed as a loose, amorphous city that is set in a park-like environment. In a densely settled country such as The Netherlands, this is condition is exceptional; the abundant green at the same time is an asset to the Parkstad as a whole and an isolator which keeps the distinct urban centers from feeling like a cohesive, unified city. In 2003, a consortium of representatives from the region s commerce, community groups and research institutions presented a report to Parkstad Limburg, aptly titled Op hete kolen, een visie voor de toekomst van Parkstad Limburg ( On hot coals, a vision for the future of Parkstad Limburg referring to

the region s dismantled coal mines). The report focused on seven pillars around which regional cooperation should be centered: 1. A knowledge economy 2. Green revitalization 3. Health care and well-being

4. Diverse recreation and tourism 5. Culturally-driven facilities 6. A regionalization of decision making 7. A regional planning for the Parkstad Limburg (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2006) In 2006, the national government of The Netherlands granted the Parkstad Limburg the status of official governmental body, making it the first governmental layer in-between the municipality and the province, and enhancing the effectiveness of the institution (in recognition of its dire task). Its constituent municipalities are now obligated to cooperate on spatial planning, economic development, and housing policy. Yet, despite this it has proven difficult to reconcile the tendencies between municipal policy and regional policy. In order for the cities to be more compatible with the region s shrinking population, individual municipal plans for urban expansion and development must be given up to accommodate a regional framework of urban development. This has proven difficult, given the immediate financial gains individual municipalities derive from urban development (see chapter 1: Shrinkage: issues and potential opportunities). It is also essential to shy away from the ambition of developing more (primarily residential) urban areas, as these are encroaching upon the greenbelts which (still) separate the individual urban centers.

Image: New upscale residential area featuring single-family homes at the urban edge of Kerkrade. Image by Bram H. of the Holland Hoogbouw Forum (http://bit.ly/ncPbOv).


However, the adoption of a regional spatial vision in 2006, a policy document, was a step towards realizing this regional framework of urban development, which is heavily geared towards maintaining a symbiotic relationship between the region s green spaces and the built-up areas. Furthermore, in a region which shares its socio-economic problems, solutions are sought based on a shared physical and social structure (Luijten, 2006). The strategy from here on appears to be one that puts quality over quantity. The ambition to start demolishing homes to make room for new (senior) housing (in order to improve the quality of the housing stock) and to create more green spaces is central to the shared regional spatial vision (Luijten, 2006). The regional spatial vision is one that appears to accept the shrinkage and seems to strive for awareness of, and dealing with the various aspects of shrinkage on a regional level. Moving ahead, the eight constituent municipalities of Parkstad Limburg (the original seven plus a newly joined member, the adjacent municipality of Nuth) adopted the Pact of Parkstad in 2010. The pact entailed a further expansion of the responsibilities of the regional agency, as well as increased municipal contributions to the regional agenda. The enhanced set of responsibilities and financial means of the regional agency, allows for a more thorough implementation of policy at a regional level. A regional program, containing both a vision for the distant future (2040) and a mid-range planning strategy (an action agenda until 2020) was drafted and adopted. The aim of this policy is to work towards a vital region in 2040, to anticipate demographic decline, and to invest in the region. In subsequent years, investments will be based on this regional program. The regional program accepts that the population is declining, and anticipates shrinkage by looking for the region s opportunities (including improving the region s housing stock, increasing the quantity and the quality of the region s green spaces, and finetuning the region s retail offerings to the new context). By investing in the region s sustained economic vitality, the potential of the region is hoped to be strengthened (Parkstad Limburg, 2011). A new population equilibrium of 220,000 people is expected to be in place by 2040 by the regional agency, in part because of the measures that will have been taken in anticipation of further demographic shrinkage. The strategy proposed until 2020 has two central pillars: urban renewal and strengthening the economic structure of the region (Parkstad Limburg, 2011). It remains to be seen whether the population estimate put forth by Parkstad Limburg is perhaps a bit too optimistic, yet a stronger regional government is in place to guide the process of shrinkage than ever has been. Whether this framework will prove to be capable of reinvigorating the region s economy


also remains to be seen; however, shrinkage is at least acknowledged as planners try to find answers to the issues their newfound context presents them with. Summary and Conclusion The Netherlands, compared to other industrialized countries, has experienced shrinkage only on a very modest and limited scale. Indeed, population forecasts show that the most substantial demographic decline is yet to occur. However, certain symptoms of shrinkage (such as vacant housing and commercial buildings) have become increasingly widespread in the country s largest shrinking region, Parkstad Limburg. As in many countries which have regions with shrinking cities, shrinkage has occurred in select regions in The Netherlands primarily because of a declining employment base. In the case of Parkstad Limburg, an aging population has further contributed to demographic decline. The rather limited employment opportunities also push young and educated people to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Planners in The Netherlands have, at first, been reluctant to acknowledge shrinkage. As is the case in other industrialized countries, a culture of growth still persists in the practice of city and regional planning. Though the situation is slowly beginning to change, this thinking has impeded efforts to address demographic decline. Issues that are traditionally associated with shrinkage, such as vacant housing, vacant commercial buildings, increasing social segregation and an increased likelihood of the consolidation of (municipal) facilities are also manifesting themselves in Parkstad Limburg. As in shrinking cities across the industrialized world, it is the socially weaker neighborhoods and cities where such issues are most pronounced. Acknowledging that a regional cooperation in dealing with shrinkage is to be preferred over a situation where each municipality tries to save its own city, municipalities of the Parkstad Limburg have formed a coalition which is responsible for an integrated regional approach. This is perhaps a lesson for other regions which are facing shrinkage. As with many other regions that have been confronted with shrinkage only recently, planners in Parkstad Limburg remain convinced that the region s economy can be reinvigorated and that shrinkage can remain within a certain bandwidth. Additionally, they are focused on improving the quality of the regional housing stock, in which urban renewal is their tool of choice. Effectively, a shift from quantity (growth) to quality (of housing and green space) has occurred.

Annotated Bibliography Citation/ source Dankert, Ritske (2004) De Krimpende Stad is ook in Nederland. Found online: < http://bit.ly/qBBYkT> (date consulted: 7/17/2011) Type of Source Article Author Urban planner. Employed by consultancy firm Companen as a housing expert. Current Ph.D. student in the implementation of policy by housing corporations at Delft University of Technology.

Dankert, Ritske (2009) Bevolkingsdaling in Nederland. Found article online: <http://www.ritskedankert.nl/dossiers/bevolkingsdaling/actuelediscussie> (date consulted: 7/17/2011) Luijten, Anne (2006) Wensbeelden en dagelijkse realiteit. In: Parkstad Limburg (Supplement to Stedebouw & Ruimtelijke Ordening, volume 86) Mulder, Andre (2011) Krimpende Steden (Shrinking Cities). Found online: < http://www.re-h.tudelft.nl/overfaculteit/afdelingen/real-estate-andhousing/organisatie/medewerkers/andre-mulder/> (date consulted: 7/17/2011) A series of interviews by author with local experts Profile website, which features a description of the author s current research activities/ duties Report

Anne Luijten is the principal of fieldtrip studios, a graphic design firm based out of Amsterdam Geographer, specializing in housing policy. Researcher and professor at Delft Technical University, teaches housing policy, urban development, and the intersection between housing policy and economy. State-funded researchbranch, tied to the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, providing reports that inform policy Regional policy coalition consisting of seven local municipalities

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2006) Krimp en Ruimte: Bevolkingsafname, Ruimtelijke Gevolgen, en Beleid (Shrinkage and Space: Population decline, spatial consequences, and policy). The Hague: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Available online at <http://www.pbl.nl/publicaties/2006/Krimp-en-ruimte> Parkstad Limburg (2006) Regionale Woonvisie op Hoofdlijnen Parkstad Limburg 2006-2010 (Regional Housing Strategy Guidelines Parkstad Limburg 2006-2011). Found online: < http://www.parkstad-limburg.nl/index.cfm/parkstadlimburg/herstructurering/wonen> Parkstad Limburg (2011) Regioprogramma (Regional program). Found online: <http://www.parkstadlimburg.nl/index.cfm/parkstadlimburg/stadsregio_parkstad/regioprogramma> (date consulted: 7/22/2011) Research Institute for Population Decline and Policy (2011) Webpage. Found online: <www.bevolkingsdaling.nl> (date consulted: 7/17/2011).

Report/ study

Report/ study

Regional authority with eight constituent municipalities

Website, knowledge clearinghouse, reports

Research institute, focusing on population decline and its implications for policy and for society at large.


South Limburg Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel Zuid-Limburg) (2006), Ruimte: bedrijventerreinen (Space: office parks). Maastricht: Kamer van Koophandel Zuid-Limburg. Vrolijk & Croé (2005), Parkstad Limburg , in: Parkstad Limburg. Supplement to Stedebouw &Ruimtelijke Ordening (journal in Urbanism and Spatial Planning), volume 86.


Wagenaar, Cor (2005) Verlaten Idylle? In: Parkstad Limburg (Supplement to Stedebouw & Ruimtelijke Ordening, volume 86).

Report/ series of articles, supplement to scholarly journal article

Chamber of commerce of the southern part of the province of Limburg Vrolijk: editor for journal Urbanism and Spatial Planning ; Croé: head of the center for architecture in the EU region Meuse-Rhine Cor Wagenaar is an architectural historian.


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