Strategies of municipal land policies: housing development in Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands

Sina Shahab, Thomas Hartmann, Arend Jonkman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


How do municipalities strategically use land policy to develop land for housing? The development of housing is a challenge for many European countries, though the scale and time of it differs. Issues are not always about the absolute number of houses that need to be supplied in a country. The distribution and quality of houses affect the demand for housing. Land policy determines where and how future developments take place, and as a result, it has a considerable impact on both supply and demand of housing. Municipalities use different strategies of land policy to pursue housing goals. This paper aims to explore the rationalities underpinning such strategies of land policy. Therefore, a theory on pluralism – Cultural Theory – is employed to understand municipal strategies in different contexts, i.e. Germany (Ruhr region), Belgium (Flanders), and Netherlands. Applying Cultural Theory to land policy results in four ideal-typical strategies of active, passive, reactive, and protective land policies. Despite the fact that the decisions of municipalities are made within (or constrained by) their institutional environments (i.e. national/regional planning systems, development cultures, etc.), we found that there are key similarities between the strategies of the studied municipalities regardless of their different institutional environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1132-1150
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number6
Early online date10 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cultural Theory
  • housing
  • instruments
  • Land policy
  • strategy


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