Heritage in transition

Expected January 2018

Background and request for advice

The Netherlands is undergoing a number of major changes that affect the human environment, including climate adaptation, the energy transition, urban growth and decline, increasing large-scale agricultural production, secularisation, and rapid growth in tourism. These changes also have a direct or indirect impact on our built heritage, which includes listed monuments, village and urban conservation areas, and archaeological sites.

As part of its ‘Heritage Matters’ policy programme, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is currently assessing the extent to which policy interventions and financial measures are required to manage the changing position of built heritage in Dutch society. The spatial context of built heritage is particularly important in this regard. Various transitions and new legislation (including the Environment and Planning Act and Heritage Act) raise the issue of the possible need for new strategies and instruments for area-oriented built heritage management. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science requested the Council for Culture (Raad voor Cultuur, RvC) and the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Raad voor de leefomgeving en infrastructuur, Rli) to prepare a joint advisory report on these matters. The Councils’ recommendations will be aimed at helping the Minister in her decision-making process on revising government policies and instruments for the management of built heritage. A commitment has been made to the House of Representatives to submit proposals for new policies by early 2018.

The Minister of Education, Culture and Science requested RvC and Rli to cover the following matters in their joint advisory report:

  1. Which transitions are most urgent with respect to built heritage in the human environment?
  2. What impact will these transitions have on built heritage, and are the existing object‑oriented and area-oriented built heritage policies sufficiently future-proof?
  3. How can built heritage contribute to addressing the transitions?
  4. Is there a need for new strategies and (revised) instruments, and if so, which strategies and instruments?
  5. How should the associated tasks and roles be divided between government authorities and other stakeholders in the built heritage domain?


Heritage in transition
Bert Spiertz / Hollandse Hoogte

Explanatory notes

The request for advice is prompted by the many changes taking place in society and the human environment that may affect (policies aimed at) built heritage. These changes include:

  • The energy transition, climate adaptation measures and sustainable development
  • Demographic changes and population decline
  • Increasing (need for) regional differentiation
  • Built heritage that is no longer used for its original purpose due to secularisation and large-scale agricultural production

These transitions may have consequences for the preservation and use of built heritage. Perspectives on built heritage are also changing in various ways, such as:

  • A change in focus from the property in itself to its role and significance in the spatial context
  • A shift from protecting properties to built heritage as a medium and source of inspiration for area development and transformation
  • Decentralisation and ‘socialisation’ result in a decreasing role for the (central) government in the preservation of built heritage
  • The introduction of the Environment and Planning Act (2019) provides greater scope for a decentralised, comprehensive consideration of the interests involved

Expected date of publication

The advisory report is expected to be published in early 2018.

Composition of advisory committee

Representing the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure
Dr J.C. (Co) Verdaas
Dr J. (Joks) Janssen
Representing the Council for Culture
J.C. (Jaap) ’t Hart
Prof Dr E.A. (Liesbet) van Zoonen

Information or response: 

For more information or to respond, please contact project leader Tim Zwanikken, projectleader Rli by email at tim.zwanikken@rli.nl, or Annet Pasveer, projectleader RvC at annet.pasveer@cultuur.nl