Planning and the challenges of the metropolitan landscape : innovation in the Netherlands

A. van den Brink, A. van der Valk, T. van Dijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The physical appearance of the Netherlands is rapidly changing. The land of prosperous towns and villages embedded in rich, flat and open agricultural land is turning into a metropolis. A distinctive quality of this metropolis is the mix of highly urbanized centres and open, green areas that come in different shapes and sizes. But how to design an appropriate planning system for this environment? Mixing “red” (urban) and “green” (rural) land uses, for instance, now becomes problematic as Dutch spatial planning has always focused primarily on the urban domain whereas planning of green areas has its origins in agricultural land consolidation policy. A genuinely integrated approach to the planning of built-up areas and green areas in the open spaces is a distant ideal in this setting. In addition, the regional administrative level, being so important for metropolitan spatial challenges, needs reinforcing. The authors make a plea for a reframing of the notion of spatial planning at the national and provincial geographical and administrative scale. It takes a new object for planning, design and analysis to do the trick. The traditional rural–urban opposition is traded for “metropolitan landscape”, a new image reflecting the integration of built-up and non-built-up distinctively urban and rural land uses. Planning for the metropolitan landscape requires a reassignment of duties and responsibilities among national, provincial and municipal governments and other stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-165
JournalInternational Planning Studies
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • landscape
  • regional planning
  • rural urban relations


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