Now that the crisis is over, plans are being made on a large scale and at high speed to build houses again. Many of these are needed, about one million, mostly smaller town houses, in building volume approximately the city of Amsterdam. These houses must therefore be built, but we note that the large cities in particular are in danger of opting for quick and easy solutions. And they are on the city fringes. If their plans become reality, there is a threat of a renewed obesity of the large cities that leads to neighborhoods that we no longer want and problems that we know from the past. Moreover, it is not just about houses, but also about the associated and therefore necessary facilities. And then there is the mobility problem, which is unnecessarily increased. People are moving further away from their work, which means the construction of even more roads and, in the long run, traffic congestion is also increasing, even more than is the case.
But building outside the city is also disastrous for the cities themselves. Just like people, the city also needs food, vitality, dynamism. Right now we have the opportunity to further revitalize the cities. Due to the haste and panic that lurk, that chance threatens to be lost because the easy way is chosen. Furthermore, the temptation to rebuild in a quality that is no longer desirable seems to be winning; large and one-sided. In other words, new Bijlmers and Vathorsten; we really shouldn’t want that anymore. Tangram has been advocating building in the cities for many years. That is not always easy and takes more effort, but it can be done very well and is ultimately better for everyone. However, the attractive, responsible and sensible use of the construction sites in the cities (with space for greenery and squares) is hindered by excessive procedural possibilities. In addition, many municipalities still have land positions that they want to monetize in the short term. It is no longer reasonable (especially given the urgency of the problem) that a few residents with vague objections can stop building plans three blocks away. It is therefore time for a new balance between the general and the private interest. The procedures therefore need to be reviewed and adapted. Otherwise we will all pay an unnecessarily heavy price in the future.
Apparently, politicians do not see the urgency of thinking about urban planning policy, or at least not enough. Only the PvdA’s election program in the run-up to March 15 contained a well-developed and substantiated chapter on a consistent vision for future spatial planning policy. GroenLinks, however, did not get any further than a non-committal comment about ‘investing in pleasant neighborhoods’, the VVD focused on reducing rules and making standards more flexible (while there is much more to be arranged) and on the CDA website we cannot find the ‘Good Living’ report of this party. Now that GroenLinks and CDA, but also some smaller parties, have emerged so well from the elections, they can boost the level of ambition around future urban planning policy in the formation talks. I therefore call on the negotiators in the formation to allow spatial planning to play an important role. If they let that chance run, we will all regret it in ten years’ time.
Bart Mispelblom Beyer