Background and request for advice
The national government is currently reforming Dutch environmental and planning law. All laws and regulations in the physical domain are being consolidated in the new Environment and Planning Act, which will enter into force in 2019. These changes include a revision of the land policy instruments in the Supplementary Act on Land Ownership (Aanvullingswet grondeigendom) to make them suitable for addressing the range of expected planning and development tasks in the natural and built environment.
The Council is pleased to take a closer look at the instruments for land policy. The question at hand is whether the revised land policy toolkit will, over the long term, be sufficient to bring about the necessary transitions and improve environmental quality. Will these instruments work in times of both economic prosperity and decline? Will they be useful for managing urban development in regions under high economic pressure as well as in declining regions? This also involves issues of the right-to-develop, regional equalisation and urban land readjustment.
In this advisory report, the Council addresses the following question:
Do the new land policy instruments offer sufficient opportunities to involved parties to meet the challenge of creating a sustainable physical environment? If not, what is still needed?
The advice focuses on the completeness of the instrument toolkit for tackling societal challenges.
In spring 2016, the Rli identified five key challenges for spatial policy: the energy transition, sustainability of rural areas, bolstering urban regions, the circular economy and the transformation of urban real estate. Regional and local authorities, especially municipalities, are increasingly responsible for addressing these challenges, and success will largely depend on the land policy instruments provided by the Supplementary Act on Land Ownership. These instruments must enable regional and local authorities to conduct a land policy appropriate to the challenges at hand. They will also need to meet the needs of private parties involved in urban development. By way of example, the explanatory memorandum to the Act mentions a number of specific societal challenges: building demolition in declining regions, redevelopment of industrial estates, finding uses for vacant office space and maintaining attractive shopping areas.
When addressing such challenges in the physical domain, it is important that all involved parties are able to work with the instruments, either individually or together. The instruments should match their mindset and capabilities. Land policy, and the instruments used to implement it, is often a political matter. What issues are at stake and what arguments can be used to support political decisions? The Council will also investigate whether the new instruments can be expected to perform well or if they could be improved. Will they be sufficient to allow regional and local authorities to conduct facilitative planning and land policy? In view of the large variation in public and private ownership across the country, do they provide sufficient flexibility for interpretation and adaptation to local circumstances? Are adverse side-effects likely?
To promote better regulation, the Rli wishes to support legislators during the legislative process. The Council’s advisory report, which should appear in May 2017 concurrently with an advice by the Council of State, can be used to improve the regulations scheduled to take effect in 2019.
On 13 April 2017 the Council has adopted its recommendations and expects to publish the advisory report 22 June 2017.
Composition of the Council committee
Professor N.S.J. (Niels) Koeman, Chair (member Rli)
Dr C. (Co) Verdaas (member Rli)
H.M.A. (Heleen) Aarts, MRE (Amvest)
A.J.R. (Aeisso) Boelman MA (Fakton)
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