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The responsible capital

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Plan

Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s twin towns – a special relationship

Shrinking towns build a new future

Bridging the gap


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infographic 2015 population structure for 25 t/m 29 Amsterdam, Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl in absolute20 t/m 24 15 t/m 19 numbers. 10 t/m 14 Amsterdam has a large proportion of young 5 t/m 9 residents, while Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl 0 t/m 4 are ageing. 25.000 Source: Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL)

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Demographic development forecasts for each municipality. In Delfzijl shrinkage is expected to top 10% by 2030. In Heerlen and Sluis, shrinkage is easing off slightly. Source: PBL/CBS regional populations and households forecast 2015-2040

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Heerlen mannen vrouwen 95 + 90 t/m 94 85 t/m 89 80 t/m 84 75 t/m 79 70 t/m 74 65 t/m 69 60 t/m 64 55 t/m 59 50 t/m 54 45 t/m 49 40 t/m 44 35 t/m 39 30 t/m 34 25 t/m 29 20 t/m 24 15 t/m 19 10 t/m 14 5 t/m 9 0 t/m 4

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1 The four mayors at Mayor van der Laan’s official residence in 2015. From left to right: Gerard Beukema (Delfzijl), Eberhard van der Laan (Amsterdam), Annemiek Jetten (Sluis) and Ralf Krewinkel (Heerlen). Photo: George Maas

Authors

A motto to inspire

Julian Jansen Karin van der Wansem

Credits Plan Amsterdam is published by the City of Amsterdam, giving information about physical planning projects and developments in the city and the metropolitan region of Amsterdam. The magazine appears five times per year, of which two issues are in English. Editorial team Stella Marcé, Judith van Laarhoven Design Beukers Scholma, Haarlem Main cover image Siebe Swart, Hollandse Hoogte Photography see the captions Maps and illustrations City of Amsterdam, unless otherwise stated Translation Frank van Lieshout Lithography and printing OBT Opmeer, The Hague This publication has been prepared with the greatest possible care. The City of Amsterdam cannot, however, accept any liability for the correctness and completeness of the information it contains. In the event of credits for visual materials being incorrect or if you have any other questions, please contact the editors: planamsterdam@amsterdam.nl or tel. +31(0)20 2551550. A free subscription can be requested by sending an e-mail to: planamsterdam@amsterdam.nl. Volume 23, no. 2, July 2017 This magazine can also be downloaded: www.amsterdam.nl/planamsterdam

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Dear reader, A mayor should have a motto. At least, this is what several people told me when I started as Amsterdam mayor seven years ago. As it happens, I’m not too keen on mottoes, but then this one popped up and I’ve stuck with it ever since: Amsterdam responsible capital. The motto has been personally motivated by my experiences in 1970’s Amsterdam, when the city was bankrupt and people were leaving in their thousands each year; and by my time as a government minister in The Hague in the 2000’s, when the issue of regional shrinkage was first brought into sharp focus and Amsterdam’s arrogance was often frowned upon in the government corridors. In this edition of Plan Amsterdam magazine you can read how Amsterdam has become the responsible capital it is today, and why it is important that the country’s capital city feels this responsibility and acts accordingly. Amsterdam’s partnership with Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl, which takes centre stage in this edition, is one of the ways in which the city’s responsibility has been realised. But there are many other ways in which it has been adopted and inspired the organisation: it is now no longer just my motto, but our motto. I hope this edition of Plan Amsterdam will contribute to this.

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We are living in times of increased polarisation with growing divides and inequalities, such as those between city and countryside. Whereas the cities (and specifically the four major Dutch cities forming the ‘Randstad’) are thriving, some of the regions are experiencing depopulation and economic stagnation. Still, if you get to know the countryside a bit better, you will find that appearances can be deceiving. There are problems, but there is also a great deal of energy and activity. What’s more, I have noticed that a lot of people do not believe in this supposed polarisation and these growing divides. As a responsible city Amsterdam builds its strategy on mutual dependence and solidarity: we need each other, and we can make each other stronger. In the first article we look back on the birth of this special partnership between Amsterdam and three shrinking towns. Subsequently the towns of Sluis, Heerlen and Delfzijl also contribute to this edition, sharing with us their experience of this partnership and what it has brought them. Finally we will explore the consequences of population decline, such as a growing gap between city and countryside. The notion of a responsible city can help to bridge this gap. I hope you enjoy the read. Eberhard van der Laan

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1 In the 1960’s and 1970’s Amsterdam was experiencing shrinkage. In many parts, the city was in bad shape, including the Joan Melchior Kemperstraat (1985). Photo: Hans van den Bogaard

2 The Joan Melchior Kemperstraat in 2016. Since the 1990’s more attention has been paid to the quality of the public space. Photo: Alphons Nieuwenhuis

Amsterdam’s twin towns – a special relationship

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by Karin van der Wansem k.van.der.wansem@amsterdam.nl

On 7 July 2010 the newly elected mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan made his maiden speech to the City Council. Outlining the areas he intended to focus on in his new job, Van der Laan mentioned safety, community spirit, the economy and one other, unexpected ambition: to make sure Amsterdam helps other parts of the Netherlands to deal with regional shrinkage. Van der Laan’s statement caused all-round surprise, leaving the audience wondering what is Amsterdam’s interest in shrinkage. ‘Why would a thriving, prosperous capital city concern itself with the country’s fringe regions?’, they were asking. The new mayor duly explained. In his previous job as the Dutch government’s Minister of Housing, Communities and Integration, Van der Laan had got to know first-hand the issues surrounding regional shrinkage. He had visited the Northern provinces, the southern province of Limburg and the province of Zeeland in the far south-west corner of the country, and had seen with his own eyes the downward spiral a decline in population can cause, resulting in vacant homes and shops, schools that are forced to close down and a general weakening of the economy and social infrastructure, making the region progressively less attractive for people to live. For a long time, the issue of shrinkage had been a taboo subject, with some authorities pretending it did not exist, fearing it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So they just continued building houses and roads, hoping against all odds that people would stay. The mayor also reminded his audience that only a short time ago Amsterdam itself had been facing depopulation. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Netherlands’ major cities were experiencing massive problems. Young families moved en masse to the

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surrounding towns and villages, to enjoy more space and peace and new, high quality housing. During this period, the rest of the country helped Amsterdam and other cities to cope. In the coming years, the reverse would need to happen. For Amsterdam, the tide turned in 2010. Despite the economic crisis, the city was thriving and had become a magnet for people and businesses from the Netherlands and abroad. Amsterdam now found itself in an upward spiral. At the same time, whichever way you look at it, this growth was and is – directly or indirectly – accompanied by shrinkage in other places. As the mayor did not want his city to flourish at the expense of other areas, he introduced his motto: Amsterdam wants to be a responsible capital city.

Amsterdam as a responsible city Over the years this motto has started to resonate more widely and been put into action across the Netherlands as well as abroad. In his speech, Van der Laan took the first step to express Amsterdam’s solidarity and build a symbolic bridge between the thriving capital and the shrinking regions, announcing that he would invite the mayors from the country’s three municipalities experiencing the highest rates of shrinkage – which at the time were Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl – to see if they could help each other. >

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3 A meeting in Heerlen, with Mayor Krewinkel (Heerlen), Mayor Beukema (Delfzijl) and Portfolio Holder Councillor Werkman (Sluis). Photos: Heerlen Municipal Council

4 Following their meeting in Heerlen, the participants visited various projects in and around the town. Photo: Heerlen Municipal Council

5 Working visit in Heerlen. In 2016, the Canary in a Coal Mine mural won the Dutch Street Art Award in the Wanderwall category. In 2017, Heerlen won again, this time in the Local Government category. Photo: Heerlen Municipal Council Mural: Super A and Collin van der Sluijs

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6 In 2013, mayors Jetten and Van der Laan officially reopened the Sluis Belfort, which houses the Van Dale Foundation, marking the start of the Writers in Sluis project. Photo: Sluis Municipal Council

7 Performance of Delfzijl’s Eemsmond Big Band at the Amsterdam Vondelpark Open Air Theatre (2014). Mayor Van der Laan opened the event. Photo: Wietske Schober

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’The past no longer cast its dark shadow, it was a heritage to look back on with pride.’

Amsterdam council employees on their way to Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl Delighted with Van der Laan’s generous gesture, the three mayors called in soon after to engage in talks. At the request of the mayor, a team of Amsterdam city council employees visited the three towns to start getting more familiar with their problems. A whole new world opened up for the Amsterdam team, as they got to know Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl as three unique and beautiful towns, each with their own character, attractions and history, but also sharing one important characteristic: shrinkage. Here is a quote from the memo relating to the new relationship which was sent to the city council in 2013: “During their visit, the Amsterdam delegation were overwhelmed by the history of these three shrinking towns and their great national significance. In Sluis, they heard about the role the people from Zeeland played in the defence of the Dutch Republic during the 17th century, the Delta Project that keeps large parts of the Netherlands safe from the sea and the often forgotten bombardments during the Second World War. In Heerlen, they discussed the former coal mines in the area, the social fabric of the mining community when it was still thriving and its lasting significance, and the feeling among the community of having been abandoned by the ‘West’ (the western part of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, eds). In Delfzijl, they talked about the many villages in the area which had the life sucked out of them, the significance of the harbour of Delfzijl and the failed transition to develop new industries. All these discussions touched on lost identities and the search for a new one.” At that point, much had already been written about the issue of regional shrinkage. The Amsterdam team learned that there are different forms of shrinkage. They explored concepts such as dejuvenation and ageing, and the difference between hard and soft shrinkage. They found out which measures had proved successful and which had not, and they discovered that there are no real ready-made solutions. One of the most important lessons the three towns learned was to accept the situation, stop building new roads and shopping malls against better judgement and adapt to

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the new reality. Another issue the Amsterdam team discovered is that these towns have too little capacity in terms of council employees to deal with problems of this magnitude. With its 15,000 city council employees, Amsterdam can handle a large array of issues all at once, but in these shrinking towns often a handful of council workers have to face a huge and complex task on their own. The start of a new collaboration The mayors met at Van der Laan’s official residence in Amsterdam and decided to meet up every year. Discussing their collaboration, Mayor Van der Laan was adamant to get rid of Amsterdam’s image of being ‘the arrogant capital’, and insisted that discussions were held on an equal footing. The Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl mayors and their staff indicated what they needed, including expertise on restructuring, civil participation, urban planning and applying for European funds. A team led by the Director of Mayor Van der Laan’s Office organised the collaboration, mediating between Amsterdam and the three twinning municipalities. The team was made up of the same people who made the initial visit and who were pioneering this special collaboration. They received the questions and queries from the shrinking towns and asked their colleagues in Amsterdam to come up with answers. As well as serving as a go-between, they also became ambassadors for this special collaboration and spread the motto of ‘responsible capital’ with flair and enthusiasm across the Amsterdam organisation and beyond. Here is an example of how things went during this first period. The Amsterdam team soon found that if they wanted to get to know Heerlen better, they should delve deeper into the town’s mining history. Heerlen’s demographic shrinkage and economic decline has often been directly linked with the closure of the mines in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Seen from this perspective, Heerlen is still overshadowed by its past. However, when the Amsterdam delegation visited, Heerlen council had just initiated a positive comeback from this dark past. Shining a different light on the town’s mining heritage, they were preparing for the


8 DelfSail 2016. Preparing the DelfSail event, Delfzijl called upon the City of Amsterdam to support them in their security, communication and relation management efforts. Photo: Yolanda Wals

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Year of the Mines in 2015, celebrating this special heritage. The Amsterdam mayor was made patron of the Year of the Mines and Amsterdam city council staff helped with the marketing of the event. Private parties were also getting involved, with Amsterdam platform for urban transition Pakhuis de Zwijger organising a series of presentations on the Year of the Mines. These presentations turned out to be a resounding success and a great catalyst for renewed self-confidence. The past no longer cast its dark shadow over the town and surrounding area; it was a heritage to look back on with pride, an example of an identity which had been reclaimed.

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Signed and sealed Amsterdam and its twin towns had been exchanging people and information, and the four mayors had already met a number of times when in 2014 the partnership was officially signed and sealed with three agreements, between Amsterdam and Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl respectively. In January 2014, the mayors jointly signed the agreement at Van der Laan’s official residence in Amsterdam. In the background the partnership was steadily moving forward and expanding. The various exchange programmes included not only information and expertise but sometimes also cultural matters, such >

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’It was an enriching experience to step out of the Amsterdam bubble.’

as Sluis being the birthplace of Johannes Hendrik van Dale, the founding father of the official Dutch dictionary, also known as the Dikke van Dale (Big van Dale). In 2013, the Amsterdam mayor visited the re-opening of the Belfort in Sluis, where the Van Dale Foundation resides, and the Writers of Sluis project was launched. One of the first writers to take up a residency in the medieval building was the Amsterdam poet Menno Wigman. During his time there, Wigman wrote a poem about Sluis, which Mayor Van der Laan presented to his Sluis colleague at the opening event. Interestingly, the poem describes Sluis in a rather negative fashion, which will not help much to counteract the town’s shrinkage. Another example of cultural exchange is the performance of part of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2013 in Delfzijl. A year later Delfzijl returned the favour with a performance by their local Eemsmond Big Band at the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre.

More than just twin towns

Mutual benefits Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl also felt the urge to respond to any issues, queries or requests the capital might have. In 2013, this ambition was first realised with an initiative to invite a group of Amsterdam school children to spend part of their holidays in Sluis. It was reminiscent of the old days, when pale looking boys from the city were sent away to the countryside to breathe in the fresh air and recover. In 2015, a group of pupils from a school in Amsterdam Nieuw-West sailed from Delfzijl to Den Helder across the Wadden Sea along with the sea cadets corps, before being invited by Mayor Van der Laan to tell him all about this spectacular and unforgettable adventure. During the joint masterclasses the participants discovered that, despite the different challenges they face, they also have much in common and can learn a lot from each other. For instance, all four parties know first-hand the importance of making and keeping local neighbourhoods attractive places to live, and the way Delfzijl approached this issue was a real eye-opener to Amsterdam council officers. More often though these mutual connections and shared interests appear on a more subtle level. All the Amsterdam council staff who were involved expressed that meeting the teams from the shrinking towns was

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a truly enriching experience – not only for members of the pioneering core team, but also for executives working in the Public Order and Safety, City Development, Housing, Planning and Sustainability, Legal Services and Communication departments. Using their expertise, they worked with their counterparts from these remote corners of the Netherlands to come up with solutions to their problems, small and large. To them, it was an enriching experience to step out of the Amsterdam bubble and deal with a completely different set of issues – which on closer inspection turned out to be not that different from the problems facing a city such as Amsterdam. On top of this, many of the executives involved really enjoyed being able to support these towns, to shake off Amsterdam’s image as an arrogant city and to help it become the responsible capital city it wants to be.

Plan Amsterdam

As I indicated before, Amsterdam’s motto of being a ‘responsible capital city’ stretches further than just a friendly relationship with other towns. Using his motto, Mayor Van der Laan wanted to make clear that a capital city must also have the ambition to set an example. Not as an arrogant, selfish city believing itself a cut above the rest of the world, but as a city which is aware of its own strengths and limitations, and which wants to share its know-how and prosperity with the rest of the world. Most Amsterdam people the Amsterdam team discussed this with in recent years fully understood and agreed with this. In 2012 Amsterdam chaired the G4, an informal partnership between the Netherlands’ major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. In previous years, the G4 had been wont to join forces against the central government if needed. Van der Laan was happy to join forces, but he did not like the idea of ‘doing battle’ against the government. Instead he advocated that the four major cities can solve their problems themselves by combining their strengths, and allowing each city to excel in the role that most suits them. Amsterdam also changed its course in relation to the EU. Just like many other cities and regions, Amsterdam had been used to see Brussels as the proverbial cash


cow you turn to if you needed funding. But Mayor Van der Laan stressed that the city should not just present Brussels with a wish list. In talks with commissioner Hahn, responsible for the EU’s urban policy at the time, Van der Laan expressed his wish to be of help to other cities such as Athens – this was at the time that Greece was on the brink of financial collapse. Hahn was surprised by this original approach and the generous offer was eagerly accepted. Ever since, Amsterdam and Athens have been working together on several fronts, with Amsterdam advising on care for homeless people and other issues. Amsterdam’s motto of being a responsible capital city is also the guiding principle in its global relations. This means, for instance, that a working visit abroad by the mayor will tend to be set up as a joint project with another region in the Netherlands. Amsterdam can use the expertise these regions have - for example in food safety, which is of great interest to Amsterdam’s partners in China. Vice versa it is of great interest to regional institutes such as Wageningen University to travel with a delegation from Amsterdam, simply because Amsterdam has international appeal and can help other parts of the Netherlands promote their goods and services. Amsterdam’s global policy is emphatically geared towards mutual benefit. Amsterdam has a lot to offer when it comes to arts and culture, water management and planning. Taking this expertise along on foreign visits, the city can sometimes use it to secure a new commission, but, more importantly, to help build a balanced relationship with its partners: Amsterdam does not just visit to acquire contracts, it also wants to give something in return. As a responsible capital city, Amsterdam will no longer try and attract companies from other cities or regions in the Netherlands. On a number of occasions the mayor even contacted his colleagues directly to assure them that a certain organisation or company will not be actively pursued. Vice versa, other cities, towns and regions can help to ease crowding in the capital. On the Amsterdam Marketing website, tourists and visitors can read not only about Amsterdam but also about all the sites and activities they can visit outside of the city, benefitting

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both Amsterdam and these other towns, cities and regions.

Seven years on: the highlights and where to go from here? Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl are no longer the regions worst affected by shrinkage in the Netherlands. In Heerlen the process of depopulation has been reversed. But the overall trend of regional shrinkage and growing inequality between city and countryside is still relevant. New shrinking regions are emerging, also close to Amsterdam; and although the initial motive for the partnership was never to stop shrinkage, the question does arise how to continue from here. In 2016, the programme was evaluated and new ideas and suggestions for the future were proposed. One of them was for the three towns to work together more and learn from each other’s experiences. Another was to make their expertise and experience available to other shrinking regions in the Netherlands. The evaluation also stated that the partnership has changed in character, because Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl are no longer in the top tier of shrinking regions in the Netherlands. It was also recommended that the ideas, values and beliefs supporting the partnership, based on the idea of the responsible city, should be more firmly embedded in Amsterdam’s organisation and policies, so they will not be lost. The mayors will address this point in their next meeting. The evaluation has an appendix comprising all the activities and exchanges which took place over the last seven years, ranging from city marketing masterclasses to making available the Amsterdam training programme to council officers from the three towns; from advice on planning development in Sluis to Heerlen’s council officers getting some insight into the methods used by the famous Amsterdam Van Traa team to fight organised crime; and from advice on quay walls in Sluis to a collaboration between the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam and the MuzeeAquarium in Delfzijl. The list goes on for pages, a reminder of the successes that seven years of partnership between Amsterdam, Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl has brought and a positive sign of more constructive collaboration to come.

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1 Sluis’ Cadzand Maritime project included reinforcing the coast at Cadzand-Bad and making it more attractive for visitors. The project was nominated for the 2017 Landezine International Landscape Award. Photo: Sluis Council

2 A boost for tourism in Sluis: the new marina at Cadzand-Bad, completed in the spring of 2017. Photo: Sluis Council

Shrinking towns build a new future

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by the towns Sluis, Heerlen and Delfzijl

The populations in our towns and cities are changing. Local councils need to anticipate these changes – whether they are growing, shrinking or ageing. The councils of Heerlen, Delfzijl and Sluis have taken on this challenge by strengthening their regional role and re-using space to drive a new socio-economic dynamic. At the same time, all three treasure their heritage. Initially, the special partnership between Amsterdam and Delfzijl, Sluis and Heerlen was focused on their problems with shrinkage. However, over the course of time, this focus has shifted, as new challenges emerged which were not always directly linked to shrinkage. Through their collaboration on a wide variety of issues, Amsterdam and its three twin towns have become familiar with each other’s distinctive characteristics. Although they have a lot in common, they have also found that each of them needs to build their future on their inherent identity and history. How have they experienced this process of discovery? And how have they benefitted from the mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise? In this article, Sluis, Heerlen and Delfzijl share their findings.

Inspiration in Sluis Brave, determined, compassionate and …responsible? As far as Sluis is concerned, the latter qualification can rightfully be added to Amsterdam’s famous motto since they engaged in their partnership with the Dutch capital in 2010. Initially, there were doubts in this small town near the Belgian border about their collaboration with the Dutch capital, because of the huge difference in size between the two. Soon though, scepticism was replaced with trust and the idea of a partnership based on equal terms was firmly established as the foundation for further collaboration.

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No doom and gloom Following their first meeting, a programme of knowledge exchange was set up to propose tools for practical solutions and share insights and experiences through masterclasses covering a range of different topics related to demographic change. Sluis’ beach pavilion proved an inspiring environment for the meeting on citizen participation they hosted, with participants being able to experience for themselves that shrinkage does not always automatically mean doom and gloom. Frequently Sluis called upon Amsterdam’s expertise to give advice or a second opinion on a wide range of subjects. These included the restoration of the quay walls of the Napoleonic canal running through the historical market town, but also the evacuation of a neighbourhood to detonate a thousand pound bomb dropped by the Allied Forces during the devastating bombardment of Breskens at the end of World War II. Highlighting the added value of these exchanges, Sluis’ mayor Cammaert commented: “The introductory visit by Amsterdam City Council’s Responsible Capital project group was a real eye opener for us here in Sluis. We became more aware that we were undervaluing and underpromoting our post World War II reconstruction architecture. Amsterdam also helped to give extra >

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3 Sluis was given advice by Amsterdam on the evacuation of a residential area to demolish a thousand pound bomb from the Second World War. Photo: Sluis Council

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sparkle to the sixtieth anniversary of the Ledel Theatre in Oostburg. And Amsterdam’s City Theatre and National Ballet provided stage and ballet masterclasses for young people in Sluis. A sustainable, long-term relationship is about giving and taking. This is why we are delighted that for some years now every summer we have been able to provide a week-long holiday for an Amsterdam family victimised by serious bullying in their neighbourhood.” Dikke van Dale As the founder of the Dutch language dictionary, Johan Hendrik van Dale was one of Sluis’ most distinguished residents. Ever since Van Dale, Sluis has had a special relationship with the Dutch language. Recently this has culminated in the Writers in Sluis project, with Amsterdam mayor Eberhard Van der Laan as its official patron. The project has provided residencies for several writers, poets and linguists to live and work in the quiet and inspirational environment Sluis has to offer. The first to take up residency in the town was Amsterdam poet Menno Wigman. You can read his poetical impressions of his stay in Sluis on page 29.

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Innovation in Heerlen For Heerlen, the changing demographic of its population has motivated the town to change the way it uses its space and create a new socio-economic dynamic. In several parts of the town new small-scale parks have been developed and recently the council introduced a new programme stimulating local residents and businesses to transform available spaces such as former sports fields and brownfield sites to reinforce the social structure of neighbourhoods. This has resulted in new types of shared spaces such as a Remembrance Forest, a Dream Square and a Horses’ Paradise. International Architecture Exhibition Another initiative to transform Heerlen town and region was the first Internationale Bau Ausstellung (IBA, International Architecture Exhibition) ever organised in the Netherlands. Originally, IBA is a German concept which over the years has evolved into a vehicle for creative solutions to boost economic growth in a particular area. The IBA explores innovative projects which can drive sustainable future development of a city or area, and finds companies, authorities, institutes and community partners to work together on these projects and bring them to fruition. In Heerlen, the IBA Parkstad 2012>


4 In Heerlen, local residents have transformed a brownfield site into a small-scale park. Photo: Heerlen Council

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5 The renewed Maan quarter, where Heerlen is building apartments as well as shops and a new railway station, connects the northern and southern parts of Heerlen. Photo: Heerlen Council

6 Working visit in Heerlen. The mural was created as part of Cultura Nova, an annual arts and culture event presenting theatre, visual arts, music, dance and film. Photo: Heerlen Council www.heerlenmurals.nl

7a/b Cultura Nova in Heerlen. Heerlen is the centre of Parkstad Limburg, which was voted best destination worldwide by the World Travel & tourism Council in 2016. Photos: Luc Lodder

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2020 has set up a range of projects to create a new, prosperous future for the city and the area, including a development strategy for North Heerlen (Gebrookerbos), building a new link between the north and south parts of the city at the Maan quarter and developing the Beaujean silver sand quarry and the Brightlands Smart Services Campus. Inspiring partnership Heerlen’s mayor Ralf Krewinkel stresses the importance of collaboration: “Our city is constantly evolving and we are inspired by our partnership with Amsterdam.

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Exchanging our experiences has been enlightening and enriching. Amsterdam have not only offered us a number of training courses, but they have also shared with us their approach to security, city marketing, restructuring and environmental licensing. Speaking for myself personally, I have learned some valuable lessons from Amsterdam’s security plans. Vice versa, we have been able to inspire Amsterdam as well. Especially our IBA was of great interest to them. What we have built here is a climate of innovation and transformation which fits in with the urban area we are a part of and which stretches across the border with Germany.” >

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’The challenges are not always directly related to shrinkage’

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Delfzijl, harbour city A smaller population with more elderly people – Delfzijl’s shrinkage means the town needs to rethink the spatial planning of its area, as well as address issues such as how to retain shops, a theatre, sport facilities, schools and healthcare. These are issues which affect not only the town and the twenty villages immediately surrounding it, but also other municipalities in the wider region.

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Three-track approach Delfzijl’s planning development is structured by a three-track approach: – Reinforcing the town centre by reducing the square footage of retail space and concentrating retail locations. – Retaining and working with the town’s historic layout. – Reopening the route from the town centre to the harbour and the sea. >


8 Delfzijl’s harbour connects Groningen Province with the rest of the world. Photo: Delfzijl Council

9a-c The redeveloped town centre in Delfzijl has been given a maritime theme, with a water square (a), a beach carpet (b) and sails above the main shopping street (c). Photos: Yolanda Wals

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10 Delfzijl’s MuzeeAquarium. In the background the iconic Vennen tower block which will be demolished in 2017. Photo: Yolanda Wals

11 Delfzijl Council’s Eemshaven-Delfzijl Dike Improvement Project provides nearly 12 kilometres of improved primary water barriers. Photo: Yolanda Wals

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Guided by the Second National Planning Policy Document in 1966, the town’s central shopping area was built in the 1970’s for a projected population of 85,000 people. However, in 1981 Delfzijl’s population had already peaked at only 35,000 and has subsequently fallen to around 25,000 in recent years. The town centre has now been restructured and the vacancy rate is lower than the national average. In addition, the council has also decided to demolish the iconic Vennen tower block and re-develop the area. Opening up the view of the old dike and the harbour will reinforce the link with the harbour and the sea. With the redevelopment of the train station, part of the town’s sixteenth century layout which is now only visible in a water on the edge of the town centre, will be further extended. The groundwork for this three-track development was laid in collaboration with urban planning experts from Amsterdam. A quality team was set up to advise on the management of the plans and the capital also provided expertise to prepare the spatial planning.

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City marketing In 2014, a group of business people from Delfzijl visited Amsterdam to find inspiration for planning and developing their city marketing. Following their visit, the Stichting Stadsmarketing Delfzijl (SMD, City Marketing Delfzijl Foundation) and Stichting Activiteiten Delfzijl (STAD, Activities Delfzijl Foundation) were set up. The SMD receives funds from municipal advertising taxes to support and help develop recreational and tourist activities in the town centre. Also in 2014, board members and volunteers of the MuzeeAquarium visited Amsterdam to explore new avenues for their museum. As in Heerlen and Sluis, the people in Delfzijl are very happy with the Amsterdam partnership: “All these new developments have been made possible with Amsterdam’s professional support and inspiring input.”

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1 In 2040 in many Dutch municipalities one third of the population will be 65 years or over. Photo: Alphons Nieuwenhuis

2 Many highly educated young people migrate

to the cities, putting pressure on employment and facilities in shrinking regions. Photo: Ton Schaap

Bridging the gap

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by Julian Jansen j.e.jansen@amsterdam.nl

Population growth in some regions along with shrinkage in others is creating an increase in regional inequality. Combined with economic, spatial and political disparities, the result is a growing gap between the city and the countryside. The innovative idea of a ‘responsible capital city’, an approach which is unique in Europe, can help to bridge this gap.

A decline of their populations was the direct reason for Amsterdam to engage in a special relationship with the towns of Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl. In the coming years, total population growth in the Netherlands will level off and in some regions population numbers will decline. This new demographic trend is the result of falling birth rates since the 1970’s, following a period of high birth rates after the Second World War. In 2040, a third of the population wil be over 65 in many parts of the country. In so-called shrinkage regions the mortality rate has already overtaken the birth rate. This type of population decline caused by an ageing demographic is called hard shrinkage. Growth is concentrated in the Randstad region (which comprises the Netherlands’ four largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), particularly in Amsterdam. Many regions are experiencing an exodus of young people to the Randstad and Amsterdam in particular. Sometimes they first move away to study in a regional town or city, such as Groningen for instance, only to move to the Randstad later, after their studies, to find work. This migration away from the regions is called soft shrinkage, and often involves young, highly educated people. Often referred to as selective migration, this brain drain puts further pressure on employment and facilities in shrinkage regions.

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Regional differences Shrinkage in the Netherlands first started in Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl. A contributing factor was their location near the Netherlands’ borders, relatively far removed from the economic centre of the country and prone to cross-border migration. Since, shrinkage has also started to affect regions such as the Achterhoek (in the eastern part of the Netherlands) and North Friesland, as well as, closer to Amsterdam, the northernmost part of North-Holland Province. In towns and villages with an ageing population but located close to metropolitan regions and offering attractive living environments, the decline in population due to ageing is often compensated by young families moving in from the cities. This trend is noticeable in areas such as Het Gooi and in small towns like Bergen in North-Holland Province. As well as employment and distance to work, the quality of living environment, culture, identity and charm also determine the ability of councils to retain their young residents and attract newcomers. Migration The growing regional divisions caused by population growth and decline are sometimes reinforced by migration from abroad. As a result of low skilled labour migration within the European Union and, to a lesser extent, refugee migration, several shrinking municipalities >

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3a/b Demographic development for each municipality 2006-2011 (a) and 2011-2016 (b). In recent years, regions such as the Achterhoek, North Friesland and North Holland Province have also experienced population decline. See page 2 for the forecast up to 2030. Source: CBS

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Change in % < â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2 â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2 to 0 0 to 2 2 to 4 >4

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4 General election 2017, largest party for each municipality. At the general election in 2017, the Socialist Party (SP) and the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, Party for Freedom) won the largest share of the vote in border municipalities in the east of Groningen and in South Limburg respectively. Source: NOS/Wikipedia VVD (33) PVV (20) CDA (19)

D66 (19) GL (14) SP (14) PvdA (9) CU (5) PvdD (5) 50+ (4) SGP (3) Denk (3) FvD (2)

have recorded a population rise. At the same time, cities such as Amsterdam and The Hague are seeing an influx of large numbers of highly educated foreign professionals and students. The net effect is that foreign migration can lead to growing inequalities in income between regions.

Political differences In 2014, both the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (SCP, Netherlands Institute for Social Research) and the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR, Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy) reported a growing gap between lower and higher skilled people in the Netherlands. There is less interaction between these groups, they have different lifestyles and they meet less frequently in their own living environments. This gap is widened by selective high skilled migration into the metropolitan regions and even further reinforced by highly skilled people choosing their friends and partners from their own select group. One of the issues caused by this growing gap between these groups, is a growing distrust of the political process and the ‘governing elite’ among lower and medium skilled workers. In border regions affected by population decline this is sometimes accompanied and reinforced by resentment at the ‘arrogant Randstad’. At the 2017 general elections the Socialist Party (SP) and Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, Party for Freedom) emerged as the largest parties in border municipalities in the east of Groningen Province and South Limburg respectively. Both these parties attract a relatively large share of voters who have little trust in politics and the ‘governing elite’. Within Amsterdam itself, a similar pattern can be seen, as the influx of higher educated people has reinforced cultural and political divisions within the city. While PvdA (Labour) suffered a significant loss of their share, D66 (Liberal Democratic Party) and Groen Links (Green Left party) made large gains in the Centre, Zuid, West and East districts, whereas in the less gentrified and poorer North district the SP and PVV picked up a large share of the vote. Two new parties performed particularly well in the North and New West districts (DENK) and in the Southeast district (Artikel 1). Judging from these results, political preferences are shifting and >

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5a/b Porthmadog, Wales (a). The vote in Wales decided the British referendum in favour of Brexit, despite pro EU demos such as the Cardiff for Europe event in 2016 (b). Photo (a): National Assembly for Wales, Flickr Photo (b): Jeremy Segrott, Flickr

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6 Population growth and decline in Europe (%, 2015). Large parts in Eastern Europe, Spain and Italy, but also Wales, were experiencing shrinkage. Source: Eurostat

–5 to –20 0 to –5 0 to 5 5 to 20 20 to 35 no data

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differences between different groups of the population are polarising, especially between lower and higher skilled residents.

Europe The link between polarised political opinion and a growing divide between cities and the countryside is not confined to the Netherlands – it has also emerged in the rest of Europe. The most prominent recent example is the British referendum on the United Kingdom leaving the EU, with Brexiteers hailing mostly from rural areas, former industrial towns and cities with high unemployment and also poorer parts of London. Ironically, in the end the vote in Wales, a predominantly rural area which has received relatively large amounts of EU subsidies, swung the referendum towards a Brexit victory. One of the EU’s main goals is to promote territorial cohesion and decrease social economic differences between regions. This is why poorer regions, mainly in eastern and southern Europe, receive subsidies from so-called cohesion funds. The difficulty with granting these subsidies however, is that there are large disparities between different areas within these regions, especially between urban and rural areas. This is why the European commission has set up a special programme to promote partnerships between cities and the countryside, so-called urban-rural cooperation initiatives. If metropolitan areas want to have more say in Europe, they will

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need to address this issue and take part in these cooperations themselves. Sectoral policy Another issue widening the urban-rural divide is Europe’s ‘sectoral policy’. Half of the EU’s budget is still spent on farming subsidies. This can lead to depopulation and upscaling of farming activities in the same regions, turning them into large scale production areas and adversely affecting their historical identity and character. In addition, the European climate change goals could transform large swathes of land into energy production areas, making them less attractive to live and possibly leading to a further decrease in population. This sectoral policy also risks widening the urban-rural divide in the Netherlands. Investments in metropolitan infrastructure and growth regions could confirm rural and shrinking regions in their belief that they are being left behind. This would go contrary to the important challenge of preserving the quality of life, identity and unique character of these areas, of promoting people’s pride in their home regions without letting them feel abandoned by the social and political elite in the west of the country. A prime example of this latter sentiment can be felt in parts of Northeast Groningen, where people have been suffering emotional and material damage from a series of earthquakes caused by decades of local gas drilling operations. Sectoral investments to >


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Depopulation and upscaling of farming activities is turning European regions into large scale production areas.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

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7 Blauwestad in Northeastern Groningen is an example of sectoral investment to attract higher educated people and businesses. Source: Arjan Veen, Flickr

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attract higher educated people and companies to the region in order to counter population decline and loss of jobs have on the whole proved to be unsuccessful. This was evidenced, for instance, by the lack of interest from buyers for the Blauwestad project, a new luxury village development in the northeast of Groningen. European urban-rural partnerships Within the European context, Amsterdam is actively involved in urban-rural partnerships, and chairs the METREX European metropolitan network expert group, which has adopted the ‘responsible capital city’ approach in its European URMA project. Currently, Amsterdam is a partner in the follow-up to this project, RUMORE, which is geared towards economic innovation through fostering of urban-rural partnerships and impacting on European structural funds. In 2013 the ‘responsible capital city’ approach was also included in the OECD’s Rural-Urban Partnerships report, commissioned by the European Commission. The ESPON research agency, which studies regional development within Europe, has also pleaded for partnerships between large and small municipalities and between growing and shrinking regions. Amsterdam’s initiative to link up with Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl perfectly fits in with this ambition.

Environment and Planning Visions The Dutch Environment and Planning Visions play a major role in the development of spatial policy. With the introduction of the Environment and Planning Act in 2019, central government, provinces and municipalities will need to develop comprehensive Environment and Planning Visions which will replace the old Structural Planning Visions. The Environment and Planning Visions can provide solutions to larger issues such as meeting climate targets or bridging growing demographic

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divides. To be able to do this, the Visions must be allowed to transcend sectoral approaches, as they have been originally intended. This is an important point, because it’s part of the Environment and Planning Vision to promote participation and devolve responsibilities to lower levels as much as possible and practicable. In this scenario, it’s essential to have an overall guiding vision to avoid negative spatial effects on a larger scale and between different sectors. This calls for a social spatial vision which takes into account the growing divisions we can see emerging. It’s also the approach the OECD advised to take on a national and regional level in its report Governance of Land Use, the case of Amsterdam (2017). Commissioned by the City of Amsterdam, the OECD remark in their report that for smaller municipalities implementation of the Environment and Planning Act will make great demands on their knowledge, expertise and capacity, especially after earlier decentralisation reforms. Larger towns and cities could support smaller municipalities to deal with these challenges. This so-called capacity building on a mutual basis was one of the main principles on which the partnership between Amsterdam, Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl was built.

Setting an example Where do we go from here? Is the onus now on other major Dutch cities to replicate Amsterdam’s initiative? Or is there more needed? In a critical article in 2014, Marco Bontje, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam argued that the responsibility felt by Amsterdam should really lie with the central Dutch government in The Hague. This goes to show that the ‘responsible city’ approach is not only of interest to other major cities to adopt, but can also serve as an example on regional, national and European levels to bridge the gap.


Written to mark the collaboration between Amsterdam and Sluis. Sluis is also the town where Van Dale worked on his famous dictionary.

A night away from Amsterdam A night away from Amsterdam. Below the window of my hotel I see some youngish waiters smoking.

The cook – big gut, big quiff – has pleased a palate or two and dreams out loud of better jobs to come. When asked

about Sluis, his answer’s gruff: “One word, four letters.” The waiters too will leave here soon enough.

I hear how Zeeland sighs: people, please, come back. But it’s a place the sea itself has fled. – What’s left: the book Van Dale drudged at here close by, for every poet still a shining light.

I think and think but I don’t know. Maybe the cook will ride off to his girl and drink a blissful pint.

And later five waiters will all be homeward bound, five waiters going down five streets to their five houses,

and waiting in each house there is a wondrous bed, enormous, with a canopy of galaxies, a dozen, overhead.

Menno Wigman / translation: David Colmer

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Summary

The responsible capital Amsterdam’s twin towns – a special relationship In his maiden speech to Amsterdam’s City Council, the new mayor Eberhard van der Laan expressed an unexpected ambition: to be a responsible capital city. While the provinces of Limburg and Zeeland and the North of the Netherlands were experiencing population decline and facing a downward spiral, Amsterdam was going the opposite way. As the mayor did not want to celebrate the success of his city at the expense of others, he invited the mayors of the three municipalities experiencing the highest rate of shrinkage in the country at the time: Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl. At the request of Amsterdam, these three towns indicated what they most needed to cope with their problems, such as expertise in restructuring, community participation and how to apply for European subsidies. A team of Amsterdam council workers and officials was formed to provide them with support and advice. During the joint masterclasses the participants discovered that they can learn a lot from each other. For instance, making and keeping local neighbourhoods attractive places to live, proved an issue that all four parties were familiar with, and Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl were keen to answer Amsterdam’s questions on this subject.

Shrinking towns build a new future How have Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl experienced the partnership with Amsterdam? And how have they benefitted from the mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise? Initially, there were doubts in Sluis, because of the huge difference in size between the two. Soon though, scepticism was replaced by trust and the idea of a partnership based on equal terms was firmly established as the foundation for further collaboration. Sluis frequently called upon Amsterdam to lend its expertise, for instance with the restoration of the quay walls of its canal and the evacuation of a residential area. In turn, Sluis hosted a meeting on community participation. According to Mayor Cammaert of Sluis: “A sustainable, long-term relationship is about giving and taking. This is why we are delighted that for some years now every summer we have been able to provide a week-long holiday for an Amsterdam family victimised by serious bullying in their neighbourhood.”

Amsterdam wants to be a responsible capital in an international context as well, which is reflected in, among other projects, the advisory role they have taken to help the Greek capital Athens take care of its homeless people. Amsterdam’s international policy is also emphatically geared towards generating mutual benefit. This means, for instance, that a working visit abroad by the mayor will normally be set up as a joint project with other Dutch regions. Within the Netherlands, Amsterdam will no longer try and actively attract companies away from other regions or cities.

For the town of Heerlen, their changing demographic is an incentive to start using their space differently, trying to create a new socio economic dynamic. In several neighbourhoods small-scale parks have been laid out and local residents are adopting former sports fields or other brownfield sites. Heerlen also organised the Netherlands’ first Internationale Bau Ausstellung (IBA, International Architecture Exhibition). Originally a German concept, IBAs explore innovative projects which can drive a city or region’s sustainable future development. Heerlen’s mayor Krewinkel has said about the partnership: “Exchanging our experiences has been enlightening and enriching. Amsterdam have not only offered us a number of training courses, but they have also shared with us their approach to security, city marketing, restructuring and environmental licensing. Vice versa, we have been able to inspire Amsterdam with our IBA.”

As Amsterdam’s three twin towns are no longer the worst shrinking regions, the twinning relationship with Amsterdam has changed in character over the years. The three can now offer their experience and expertise to newly emerging shrinking regions. With his motto, Mayor Van der Laan has tried to make clear that a capital city needs to set an example.

Confronted with population decline, Delfzijl also needed to rethink their spatial planning and find ways to retain facilities for the region. The town’s planning development is structured by a three-track approach: 1 Reinforcing the town centre by reducing the square footage of retail space and concentrating retail locations.

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2 Retaining and working with the town’s historic layout. 3 Reopening the route from the town centre to the harbour and the sea. These choices and the preparations for the land-use plans were developed in collaboration with urban planning experts from Amsterdam. Other areas in which Delfzijl were able to benefit from Amsterdam’s expertise were city marketing and advice on the possibilities for the town’s museum.

Bridging the gap In the coming years, total population growth in the Netherlands will level off and in many regions population numbers will decline. These regions see their young and highly educated people move away to the Randstad, and Amsterdam in particular. In combination with foreign migration, this will result in a growing gap between the city and the countryside. The idea behind the ‘responsible capital’ is to close this gap. The ‘responsible capital’ represents a unique approach which has attracted wide interest in Europe. An important European issue is the EU’s sectoral policy. Half of the EU’s budget is still spent on farming subsidies. This can lead to rural regions being faced with depopulation as well as upscaling of farming activities, turning them into large scale (energy) production areas. This sectoral approach also risks increasing the urban-rural divide in the Netherlands. The Dutch Environment and Planning Visions, which will replace the old Structural Planning Visions from 2019 onwards, will play a major role in the development of spatial policy in the Netherlands. The Environment and Planning Visions can provide solutions to bridging growing demographic divides. To be able to do this, these overall guiding Visions must be allowed to transcend sectoral approaches. Larger towns and cities could support smaller municipalities to deal with these challenges. This so-called capacity building on a mutual basis was one of the main principles on which the partnership between Amsterdam, Heerlen, Sluis and Delfzijl was built.


The Authors

Plan Amsterdam is published by the City of Amsterdam. The magazine can be read online on www.amsterdam.nl/ planamsterdam

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Julian Jansen (1970) Urban planner and demographer Planning and Sustainability, City of Amsterdam since 2009 Member of the Twinning Project Group Amsterdam – Heerlen – Sluis – Delfzijl Studied Geography at the University of Amsterdam Specialises in national and international demographic developments bearing on spatial planning, including migration, household structures and regional population growth and decline

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Karin van der Wansem (1975) Has been working for the City of Amsterdam since 2008 Director Mayor’s Office since 2013 Project Lead Twinning Project Amsterdam – Heerlen – Sluis – Delfzijl MA Philosophy at University of Amsterdam

Other contributors to this issue: Eberhard van der Laan, Diana Janssen, Joyce van den Berg, Karla Gutierrez and Jepke van Hengst Special thanks to: The towns of Delfzijl, Heerlen and Sluis

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Cityscape 02/17 Van der Pekstraat

Photo: Alphons Nieuwenhuis

A vision on public space Amsterdam is growing faster than ever before and the pressure on the public space has increased accordingly. In recent years, planning has not been able to keep up and cater for this rapidly changing and intensified use of the public space. The Public Space Vision For 2025 document (published 8 June 2017) offers guidelines for the development and management of Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s public space. The redevelopment of the Van der Pekstraat in Amsterdam North has shown how planning can have a positive effect on the entire

neighbourhood: the street has become a popular destination for both local residents and people from further afield to visit, meet up and do business. Before the redevelopment, you would often see cars speeding through. Now it has become a place to dwell and enjoy, offering flexibility with a market in the afternoons and parking spaces for cars at the end of the day. The Van der Pekstraat has become the most popular street in this part of North Amsterdam and an attractive destination for people from all over Amsterdam. Wouter van der Veur and Hans Straver www.amsterdam.nl/visieor

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Plan Amsterdam: the responsible capital  

Plan Amsterdam: the responsible capital