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Contradictions between Dutch Housing Policy and Spatial Planning

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From the late 1980s Dutch housing policy has undergone a marked change, from a broad public commitment by central government to a resolute market orientation in which more of the risks have been transferred to private actors and local governments. During the same years, spatial planning policies were also revised. In order to achieve environmental policy objectives, restrictive planning policies were introduced to preserve landscape heritage; building activities were now to be concentrated in and near central cities. The old coalition between housing and spatial planning gave way, to a new coalition between spatial planning and environmental policy.

Five contradictions between current housing policy and spatial planning are examined: the artificial shortage of new housing land, the tension between urban density and consumer preferences, a rigid and uniform housing differentiation which is at odds with the natural flexibility of housing markets, the danger of spatial segregation, and the tension between house building activities and environmental priorities.

These contradictions can be explained as the result of an attempt by the Dutch government to combine a market-oriented housing policy with substantial environmental ambitions (which have limited market support). The reformulation of both planning policy and housing policy is advocated, together with the shaping of both policy fields as a combination of market and policy elements. This will enable the desired improvement in consistency between spatial planning and housing policy.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: OTB Research Institute for Housing, Urban and Mobility Studies, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5030 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands.

Publication date: February 1, 1998


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