Private-led Development Processes: U.S. lessons for The Netherlands?

This paper explores the opportunities for a private-led urban development system in The Netherlands. Its initial focus is on the transition that is occurring in The Netherlands. Then it shifts towards the American approach, which is very much private-led. The goal is to understand what, if anything, The
Netherlands can learn from the American practice. The key finding is that it is the mindset of the Dutch stakeholders that has to change. Most of the stakeholders (mainly municipalities and developers) stick too much to their former role in the process instead of adapting to new roles. When looking at the
American practice there are multiple advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is the low financial risk for governments. The biggest disadvantage is the lack of governmental control on the process. We provide multiple arguments for a private-led system to be suitable for the Netherlands, but also takes into account the downsides that are linked to such a process.

This paper shifts perspective. It asks what the Netherlands can learn from the U.S. This may seem strange given the great differences between the two nations in overall population, population density, physical size, and geography. Yet the planning institutions in the Netherlands are changing (Bontje, 2013; Buitelaar, 2010). As they do the U.S. with its experiences of more market friendly policy and developer led planning and (re)development processes seems as if it might have lessons the Netherlands can draw upon.

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Authors: Stijn Vos MSc, Prof. (retired) Harvey M. Jacobs, dr. ir. D. Ary A. Samsura