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One big city?
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by Menno Scheers, Club of Amsterdam
03 the future of Urban Development
The future of Urban Development
The Club of Amsterdam organised a conference about urban development on February 17th, 2003. The main topic was the role of the Netherlands in Europe. This report will give you a brief summary of the topics and the discussion between the panel and the participants of The Club of Amsterdam.
It is not possible anymore to have a strong central urban planning organisation in the Netherlands. A positive result is that cities have some space to choose their own direction, and that cities are not going to look like each other like in Germany.
However, every city in the Netherlands wants its own nice city centre and wants to stimulate tourism. Specialisation might be a good idea for cities. On the other side, Utrecht has been developed for about 35,000 inhabitants. At the moment 500,000 people are focused on Utrecht. Traditional city centres seem to be more attractive. The participants of the Urban Development event were asked to fill out a questionnaire. 46% thought that cities are not going to change drastically in future.
At the moment 66% of the Netherlands is countryside. There aren't many farmers anymore. And they don't need a lot of space. We might use this land for new houses. However, the Netherlands is a self-focused country. The government ignores that a lot of people recreate outside of the Netherlands. Paul Schnabel believes that the Netherlands is one big urban area in 50 years. The Netherlands will become a huge park. Dutch people don't feel themselves at home in a big wood. They prefer a park.
Winy Maas described two other scenarios. The first is that the Netherlands will become an area like the 'Ruhrgebiet' in Germany. This view has some negative associations like lots of smoking plants, dead woods and lots of cars. The second scenario is a smart landscape of experiments. Land will be re-used to fulfil the changing demands of the inhabitants. This would be a landscape of acceleration.
The Club of Amsterdam asked the participants if growth should be the main goal for a region like the Amsterdam region, to be more competitive to other urban regions in future. 31% of them answered yes. 85% of the participants thought that cities should not separate areas where people live, recreate and work. 46% of them thought that it is essential that everybody has an influence on how urban landscapes should develop.
It is likely that the amount of inhabitants of the Netherlands will grow. Years ago it was calculated at the Central Planning Bureau that the Netherlands would have 20 million inhabitants at this moment. It was also calculated that we would need one million houses less then the houses we've already built now.
The effect of individualisation was not foreseen. They thought that everybody would live in a house with their family. We need to build more houses due to our lifestyle now. The Club of Amsterdam asked the participants if the Netherlands is going to be a mega-city spreading out from Rotterdam in the west to Enschede in the east. 46% answered this question with yes. 54% of the participants want to limit the size of cities. 92% of the participants want to work where they live.
At the question if big cities in the United States are a good example for future cities in the Netherlands 8% answered yes. All the participants thought that supporting local culture is essential for communal development. 85% thought that designing public policies should not only aim at improving people's quality of life, but also bring social and political stability to our cities by bringing integration and employment.
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