National strategic planning to enforce co-operation – VINEX, Netherlands
The Dutch VINEX policy, from a report issued in 1991 for the period 1995-2005, strategically designated sites for delivering housing nationally over the long-term. The policy has delivered compact neighbourhoods close to existing cities, in areas well-connected to services and jobs.
Neighbourhoods included inner-city brownfield sites, urban extensions and semi-independent satellite towns; but all were compact and well-connected to existing cities. 750,000 homes were built nationally during the VINEX period, 60 per cent of which were through the scheme. Most (61 per cent) have been on suburban sites just outside of the city.106 The development sites were chosen by national government through working groups of national, regional and municipal authorities.107 This three-tier system has been embedded in national spatial development since 1958 and enshrines cross-boundary co-operation into the planning process.
As in the UK, around 80 per cent of funding for local services in the Netherlands comes from central government, but in the Dutch context it is administered through central plans.108 Central government provides subsidies to the region to cover land acquisition, decontamination and public transport infrastructure costs. Regions then sign covenants with national government, which outline their spatial plans, but the local authorities implement the development with independent planning powers.109 This requires local authorities to work together under the regional authority.
Conflict over whether or not development would take place was taken out of local authority hands as strategic decisions were taken nationally. Furthermore, money for the local costs of development was allocated nationally and decisions made in working groups. Therefore there was a strong incentive to carry out the development and a strategic decision making process.110
VINEX was replaced in 2006 by the Nota Ruimte which is a more decentralised policy. Projects are still nationally co-ordinated, but there is more provincial decision-making in which local authorities are encouraged to bring about small-scale housing developments.110
Where visions or priorities do not align, national strategic planning can ensure that housing is delivered by backing local authorities with a clear plan and the tools to deliver homes where they are needed most.