Managing scarce space

Expected 23 November 2021
The Netherlands is facing substantial challenges in spatial planning, such as housing, the energy transition and a more sustainable agriculture. Do the new national frameworks for the environment (Omgevingswet, Omgevingsvisie) provide sufficient guidance for taking on these challenges?
Kerkeiland Maassluis

Background and request for advice

National policy and rules relating to the physical living environment in the Netherlands are in a state of flux. Recent years have seen the preparation of the Environment and Planning Act, which is expected to come into force in January 2022. In autumn 2020, this was preceded by the publication of the National Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment (NOVI), with which the national government aims to direct efforts to deal with major challenges. These major challenges require the government to make choices, both at national and regional levels of scale, because space is limited and it is not possible to do everything in all places. Some claims on space are in conflict with others, such as solar farms as a revenue model for agricultural enterprises versus the preference for solar panels on roofs expressed in the NOVI. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the sum of the decisions made in the regions delivers the intended result for the Netherlands as a whole. This raises the question of whether the new national frameworks provide sufficient guidance for making urgent decisions and taking on the spatial planning challenges that the Netherlands is facing. This is what has prompted the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) to start work on an advisory report on managing space.

The Council will address the following main questions:

Do the new national frameworks provide sufficient guidance to all actors, in order to arrive at an energetic and at the same time careful approach to the spatial planning challenges the Netherlands is facing? How can public authorities make the necessary spatial planning decisions, and at which tier of government should they be made, in order to achieve results?

The report will further address the following sub-questions:

  • How can the results-oriented cooperation between and within tiers of government be optimally organised, so that choices can be made?
  • How can cooperation between government and private and social partners be properly arranged?
  • How can the active involvement of citizens/residents in policy decisions on spatial planning best be increased?
  • How should we manage implementation? How can better connections be forged between policy and implementation?

The advisory report focuses on the process side of spatial planning (management and governance), but this is not possible without first analysing the issue of spatial planning decisions. Various aspects are involved: Are the decisions being made? Are there too many decisions or too few? What do the decisions produce (sum of regional decisions for the whole of the Netherlands or for the landscape)? Will the result be assessed?


This advisory report is expected to be published on 23 november 2021.

Council committee

Jantine Kriens, Council member and committee chairperson
Jeanet van Antwerpen, Council member

External committee members

Joks Janssen (Professor of Practice ‘Broad Prosperity in the Region', Tilburg University)
Caspar van den Berg (Professor of Global and Local Governance at the University of Groningen)

Information or response: 

For more information about the advisory report, please contact Lianne van Duinen, project leader: or +31 (0)6 15369330