Divergence of rural spatial planning policy in the Netherlands

P.H. Roodbol-Mekkes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Many European countries have changed their spatial planning systems in the last decade. Tasks and responsibilities have been redivided over the different government tiers. Spatial planning has thereby become a policy field that is spread over several tiers of government, in which multi-level coordination, and scale sensitivity is becoming more important. The changes made to spatial planning systems can be attributed to the shift towards a more integrative, development oriented and participative approach in spatial planning. These approaches require a good insight into the specific needs and possibilities of a certain area. The new planning systems are designed to give the regional or local governments the possibility to adapt their policies and planning system to their specific situation. It can therefore be expected that the introduction of these new spatial planning systems will lead to a divergence in both spatial planning policy and systems on the regional and local level. The paper will explore this assumption based on the case of the Investment Fund for Rural Areas (ILG) in the Netherlands. The ILG is a major decentralisation scheme in which the national government decentralised the implementation of national rural policies to the 12 provinces. The paper will analyse the range of different policies and systems of the provinces and the reasons that lay behind these differences. It will also explore if and how the national government facilitates the development of differences in practice. Results show that actual differences between the provinces are limited, despite the fact that policy divergence is seen as a prerequisite for the success of the ILG. This is largely due to the fact that the national government does not ‘let go’. On the other hand, the provinces are not fully using the opportunities that do exist. Practitioners at both the national and provincial levels feel that this has a negative effect on ILG results. This conclusion is in line with earlier studies that state that policy divergence, although widely recognized as important, is not accepted in the Dutch (political) culture. So far, ILG has not been able to break though this, limiting the possibility for the use of new planning approaches that were at the heart of ILG philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScaling and Governance Conference 2010 "Towards a New Knowledge for Scale Sensitive Governance of Complex Systems", 11-12 Nov. 2010, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen UR
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventScaling and Governance Conference 2010 - Wageningen, Netherlands
Duration: 10 Nov 201012 Nov 2010


ConferenceScaling and Governance Conference 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Divergence of rural spatial planning policy in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this