Dutch land development institutions in the face of crisis: trembling pillars in the planners’ paradise

Edwin Buitelaar*, Arjan Bregman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


ABSTRACT: The international planning community has long regarded Dutch planning culture as atypical and even exemplary. This article claims that this common view might need revision, because of large changes that are taking place in planning and development practice. The three pillars of Dutch planning and development culture – integration (of land uses, actors and financial sources), comprehensiveness and the support of these by an active municipal land policy – are trembling. The crisis of 2008 has shown (rather than caused) that the large scale and interconnectedness of land-development projects have created a ‘tightly coupled system’ in which a shock in one part travels to other parts and causes the whole system to shake or even collapse. Organic forms of urban land development, with an open-ended plan, a greater role for smaller private actors and an enabling role for government, are better at allowing for adapting to changing circumstances. Experiments with organic development can be found in abundance, but whether this type of development will institutionalize in the long run and lead to a culture shift depends on the vitality of existing power structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1294
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • crisis
  • institutions
  • Land development
  • planning system
  • the Netherlands


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