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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

How do higher density and better quality of life go together? 3/7

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A certain degree of compactness is essential for the viability of 15-minute cities.  This is due to the need for an economic threshold for facilities accessible by walking or cycling. A summary of 300 research projects by the OECD shows that compactness increases the efficiency of public services in all respects. But it also reveals disadvantages in terms of health and well-being due to pollution, traffic, and noise. The assumption is that there is an optimal density at which both pleasant living and the presence of everyday facilities - including schools - can be realised.  At this point, 'densification' is not at the expense of quality of life but contributes to it.  A lower density results in more car use and a higher density will reduce living and green space and the opportunity to create jobs.

The image above is a sketch of the 'Plan Papenvest' in Brussels. The density, 300 dwellings on an area of 1.13 hectares, is ten times that of an average neighbourhood. Urban planners often mention that the density of Dutch cities is much lower than in Paris and Barcelona, for example. Yet it is precisely in these cities that traffic is one of the main causes of air pollution, stress, and health problems. The benefits of compactness combined with a high quality of life can only be realised if the nuisances associated with increasing density are limited. This uncompromisingly means limiting car ownership and use.

Urban planners often seem to argue the other way round. They argue that building in the green areas around cities must be prevented at all costs to protect nature and that there is still enough space for building in the cities. The validity of this view is limited. In the first place, the scarce open space within cities can be better used for clean workshops and nature development in combination with water control. Secondly, much of the 'green' space outside cities is not valuable nature at all. Most of it is used to produce feed for livestock, especially cows. Using a few per cent of this space for housing does not harm nature at all. This housing must be concentrated near public transport. The worst idea is to add a road to the outskirts of every town and village. This will undoubtedly increase the use of cars.
 
Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities

Herman van den Bosch's picture #Mobility
Pelle Menke, Communications and Programme officer Mobility at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Demoday #22: Inclusive Prosperity & The Case Of Experiments In Public Space

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*This article makes use of the term Inclusive Prosperity as the English translation for the Dutch word; ‘Brede Welvaart’

In The Netherlands, the concept of Inclusive Prosperity* is on the rise. Policy makers are busy defining this concept, figuring out how to put this concept into practice and what it means for their decision-making process. Together with his colleagues at the Municipality of Amsterdam, Yurhan Kwee hosts sessions on decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity. With the input he gathers, he hopes to make the decisions needed for our Inclusive Prosperity ambitions more understandable and transparent, both for Amsterdam’s administrators and councillors as well as its citizens.

Inclusive Prosperity

Inclusive Prosperity is about more than just money. It involves everything that people consider valuable, such as health, the quality of education, the environment, a safe living environment, and equal opportunities for everyone. It's about the quality of life in the present, and the extent to which this affects the prosperity of future generations or those of people elsewhere in the world.

According to the definition, used by the Municipality, there are 8 themes to consider:

1. Subjective Well-being

Subjective well-being refers to the evaluation people make of their lives. Consider the question, "How satisfied are you with life in general?"

2. Health

The theme of Health encompasses physical illnesses and conditions, as well as mental health, living with limitations, perceived health, and self-regulation and resilience.

3. Consumption and Income

The theme of Consumption and Income refers to how income provides people with the freedom and opportunities to consume, including purchasing services and goods, maintaining a financial buffer, and shaping one's lifestyle.

4. Education and Training

Thinking about the theme of Education and Training involves the transfer of knowledge and skills, socialization, and considering the education or training experiences of individuals.

5. Spatial Quality and Cohesion

Regarding the theme of Spatial Cohesion and Quality, consider the following: a qualitatively well-designed space is a crucial precondition for the perceived broad prosperity. This includes spatial design on a functional level and with a focus on the future.

6. Economic Capital

Depending on the case, consider how it relates to:

  • Human capital: the combination of competencies, knowledge, and skills;
  • Physical capital: material possessions, such as machinery, buildings, and infrastructure;
  • Knowledge capital: intangible assets, such as research and development, data, and patents;
  • Financial capital: the financial resources of households and the government (purchasing power).

7. Natural Capital

Natural Capital refers to the stock of natural resources. Consider items such as (drinking) water, food, minerals, wind-sun-water energy, biodiversity, etc. Assess whether they are sufficiently available, in shortage, or if there is damage to these resources.

8. Social Capital

The concept of Social Capital often refers to the benefits of social networks, such as access to information and resources. This involves connections within and between groups. Positive effects can lead to trust, while negative effects can lead to loneliness.

Experimenting (with Mobility related policies) in public space

The case we used during this session is the use of experiments in public space, altering mobility or travel infrastructure. The months leading up to this afternoon, Amsterdam had put different experiments into practice (e.g. de ‘knip’ and de ‘paaltjesproef’) resulting in heated discussions, about both the success and desirability of using this method.

In a more objective manner, we used the Broad Prosperity principles to argue why its either desirable or undesirable to put such methods into practice.

Results

The group agreed that these Amsterdam experiments, concerned with creating calmer, more liveable urban areas, score well within themes like; Health (less air & noise pollution), Nature (more space for green and biodiversity), Social capital (more space and opportunity to meet and interact), Spacial quality (less dangerous and more moving space) and education (experimenting, learning by doing, viewing urban planning as experimenting and an ongoing learning process). However, as this year’s backlash on the experiments showed, there are some negative aspects to consider. Examples of domains in which we found some negative aspects, were; Economy (decreased speed and efficiency), Consumption & Income (local shop- and restaurant-owners need to be flexible and could be victims of changing infrastructure) and Subjective Well-being (citizens feel used, disadvantaged, and there is ambiguity about the purpose).

We found it difficult to arrive at a common answer because advantages and disadvantages exist on each theme separately. However, there was a common notion that the success of this method is rooted in clear and transparent communication on the effects and goals of such experiment. Frustration should be minimized and the opposing arguments should be taken seriously. Furthermore, we discussed the difference between a ‘real’ experiment in which every outcome is a success, and a trial, which is used to test a policy that’s envisioned for future years. The one who initiates the experiment should have this very clear for itself.

While one of the strengths of this method is the need to value these different domains in a more equal and objective manner, it proved to be difficult in practice. We all had the tendency to give some aspects more weight than others. While we were supposed to set up an advice and practice with decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity, it turned out to be challenging to let go of our prior experience, prejudices and opinions on this subject. We weren’t sure whether this is always a negative thing, but it’s one of the considerations Yurhan took home in the Municipality’s exploration of this approach.

Together, we experienced the challenge of working together with a new concept and approach. It should be an ongoing practice and discussion, a collective effort. Sessions like these serve that purpose perfectly.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you want to know more about the municipality’s and Amsterdam Economic Board’s efforts on the topic of Inclusive Prosperity.

Pelle Menke's picture #Citizens&Living
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

The 15-minute city: from metaphor to planning concept (2/7)

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Carlos Moreno, a professor at the Sorbonne University, helped Mayor Anne Hidalgo develop the idea of the 15-minute city. He said that six things made people happy: living, working, amenities, education, wellbeing, and recreation. The quality of the urban environment is enhanced when these functions are realized near each other. The monofunctional expansion of cities in the US, but also in the bidonvilles of Paris, is a thorn in his side, partly because this justifies owning a car.
 
A more precise definition of the concept of the 15-minute city is needed before it can be implemented on a large scale. It is important to clarify which means of transport must be available to reach certain facilities in a given number of minutes. The list of facilities is usually very comprehensive, while the list of means of transport is usually only vaguely defined. But the distance you can travel in 15 minutes depends on the availability of certain modes of transport (see figure above).
Advocates of "new urbanism" have developed the tools to design 15-minute cities. They are based on three zones: the 5-minute walking zone, the 15-minute walking zone, which coincides with the 5-minute cycling zone, and finally the 15-minute cycling zone. These are not static concepts: In practice, the zones overlap and complement each other.

The 5-minute walking zone

This zone corresponds to the way in which most residential neighbourhoods functioned up until the 1960s, wherever you are in the world. Imagine a space with an average distance from the center to the edge of about 400 meters. In the center you will find a limited number of shops, a (small) supermarket, one or more cafes and a restaurant. The number of residents will vary between two and three thousand. Density will decrease from the centre and the main streets outwards. Green spaces, including a small neighbourhood park, will be distributed throughout the neighbourhood, as will workshops and offices.
In the case of new construction, it is essential that pedestrian areas have a dense network of paths without crossings at ground level with streets where car traffic is allowed. Some paths are wider and allow cycling within the 5- and 15-minute cycle zones. The streets provide access to concentrated parking facilities.

The 5-minute cycle zone and the 15-minute walking zone.

Here the distance from the center to the edge is about one kilometer. In this area, most of the facilities that residents need is available and can be distributed around the centers of the 5-minute walking zones. For example, a slightly larger supermarket may be located between two 5-minute walking zones. This zone will also contain one or more larger parks and some larger concentrations of employment.
This zone can be a large district of a city, but it can also be a small municipality or district of around 15 to 25,000 inhabitants. With such a population there will be little room for dogmatic design, especially when it comes to existing buildings. But even then, it is possible to separate traffic types by keeping cars off many streets and clustering car parks. The bottom line is that all destinations in this zone can be reached quickly by walking and cycling, and that car routes can be crossed safely.
The car will be used (occasionally) for several destinations. For example, for large shopping trips to the supermarket.

The 15-minute cycle zone.

This zone will be home to 100.00 or more residents. The large variation is due to the (accidental) presence of facilities for a larger catchment area, such as an industrial estate, a furniture boulevard or an IKEA, a university or a (regional) hospital. It is certainly not a sum of comparable 5-minute cycle zones. Nevertheless, the aim is to distribute functions over the whole area on as small a scale as possible. In practice, this zone is also crossed by several roads for car traffic. The network of cycle paths provides the most direct links between the 5-minute cycle zones and the wider area.
 
The main urban development objectives for this zone are good accessibility to urban facilities by public transport from all neighbourhoods, the prohibition of hypermarkets and a certain distribution of central functions throughout the area: Residents should be able to go out and have fun in a few places and not just in a central part of the city.
 
Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities.

Herman van den Bosch's picture #Mobility
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

The 15-minute city: from vague memory to future reality (1/7)

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Without changing the transport system in which they operate, the advent of autonomous cars will not significantly improve the quality of life in our cities. This has been discussed in previous contributions. This change includes prioritizing investment in developing high-quality public transport and autonomous minibuses to cover the first and last mile.
 
However, this is not enough by itself. The need to reduce the distances we travel daily also applies to transporting raw materials and food around the world. This is the subject of a new series of blog posts, and probably the last.
Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the sustainability of the need for people and goods to travel long distances. In many cities, the corona pandemic has been a boost to this idea. Paris is used as an example. But what applies to Paris applies to every city.
 
When Anne Hidalgo took office as the newly elected mayor in 2016, her first actions were to close the motorway over the Seine quay and build kilometres of cycle paths. Initially, these actions were motivated by environmental concerns. Apparently, there was enough support for these plans to ensure her re-election in 2020. She had understood that measures to limit car traffic would not be enough. That is why she campaigned on the idea of "La Ville du Quart d'Heure", the 15-minute city, also known as the "complete neighbourhood". In essence, the idea is to provide citizens with almost all of their daily needs - employment, housing, amenities, schools, care and recreation - within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of their homes. The idea appealed. The idea of keeping people in their cars was replaced by the more sympathetic, empirical idea of making them redundant.
 
During pandemics, lockdowns prevent people from leaving their homes or travelling more than one kilometer. For the daily journey to work or school, the tele-works took their place, and the number of (temporary) "pistes á cycler" quickly increased. For many Parisians, the rediscovery of their own neighbourhood was a revelation. They looked up to the parks every day, the neighbourhood shops had more customers, commuters suddenly had much more time and, despite all the worries, the pandemic was in a revival of "village" coziness.
 
A revival, indeed, because until the 1960s, most of the inhabitants of the countries of Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia did not know that everything they needed on a daily basis was available within walking or cycling distance. It was against this backdrop that the idea of the 15-minute city gained ground in Paris.
 
We talk about a 15-minute city when neighbourhoods have the following characteristics
- a mix of housing for people of different ages and backgrounds - pedestrians and cyclists
- Pedestrians and cyclists, especially children, can safely use car-free streets.
- Shops within walking distance (up to 400 meters) for all daily needs
- The same goes for a medical center and a primary school.
- There are excellent public transport links;
- Parking is available on the outskirts of the neighbourhood.
- Several businesses and workshops are located in each neighbourhood.
- Neighbourhoods offer different types of meeting places, from parks to cafes and restaurants.
- There are many green and leafy streets in a neighbourhood.
- The population is large enough to support these facilities.
- Citizens have a degree of self-management.
 
Urban planners have rarely lost sight of these ideas. In many cities, the pandemic has made these vague memories accessible goals, even if they are far from reality.
 
In the next post, I will reflect on how the idea of the 15-minute city is moving from dream to reality.

Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities

Herman van den Bosch's picture #Citizens&Living
Jonas da Silva, Professor and Researcher , posted

New article "Guidelines for a participatory Smart City model to address Amazon’s urban environmental problems"

Dear Amsterdam Smart City Managers and Members,

As a member of your digital platform, I would like to sincerely thank you for the insightful emails and contents you provide to members like myself throughout the year.

I am delighted to share with you my latest published article, "Guidelines for a participatory Smart City model to address Amazon’s urban environmental problems," featured in the December 12, 2023 issue of PeerJ Computer Science.
The article can be fully accessed and cited at:
da Silva JG. 2023. Guidelines for a participatory Smart City model to address Amazon’s urban environmental problems. PeerJ Computer Science 9:e1694 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj-cs.1694

I welcome you to read my publication and share it with fellow members who may find the digital solutions for the Amazon region useful. Please let me know if you have any feedback or ideas to advance this work.

Sincerely (敬具)
Prof. Jonas Gomes ( 博士ジョナス・ゴメス)
www.jgsilva.org
UFAM/FT Industrial Engineering Department (Manaus-Amazon-Brazil)
The University of Manchester/MIOIR/SCI/AMBS Research Visitor 2020/2023

Jonas da Silva's picture #DigitalCity
Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Amsterdam Region’s Insights on Local Green Deals during COP28

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Participating in a COP28 side event organized by the European Commission, the Amsterdam Region delved into Local Green Deals as instrument for achieving the green transition. The primary goal for the session was to uncover actionable strategies and prerequisites essential for fostering public-private collaboration to realize the sustainability transition. Marja Ruigrok, vice-mayor for the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, represented the Amsterdam Region alongside political and business leaders from Braga (Portugal), Aalborg (Denmark) and Skelleftea (Sweden).
 
Commencing the session, Valentina Superti, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs at the European Commission, highlighted Europe's ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This necessitates a transformative shift towards sustainability, digitalization, and resilience, which is why the Commission is introducing critical legislation like the Net-Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act.
 
Ruigrok shared insights from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region’s efforts in establishing Local Green Deals, emphasizing her role as political ambassador and champion for the Green Deal Bikes initiative. She stressed the importance of cycling, explaining that despite its reputation as a cycling paradise, approximately 20% of young people in the Amsterdam Region can not ride a bike: “If you don’t learn to ride a bike at a young age, you are also much less likely to use a bike for commuting later in life. That’s why in this Green Deal, we stimulate young people to learn to ride bikes, and encourage employers to support commuting by bike. This is crucial because employees who bike take on average 2.5 fewer sick days compared to those who don’t bike.”
 
Reflecting on success factors, Ruigrok emphasized the need for political commitment, and clear project ownership: "From a political point of view, you need long term commitment, and you have to create ownership. Someone has to take ownership and say ‘this is my project.’ This might be a governmental agency, a company, a knowledge institution, or civil society organisation - but someone has to take the lead. Otherwise, you will continue to talk, and nothing will happen."
 
Throughout the session, participants provided practical insights and recommendations for fostering successful public-private collaborations in general, and Local Green Deals in specific:

  • Lasse Frimand Jensen, mayor of the City of Aalborg, emphasized the necessity of accountability mechanisms: “Mutual commitment is necessary and there must be mechanisms in place to keep each other accountable.”
  • Ricardo Rio, mayor of City of Braga and Member of the European Committee of the Regions, highlighted the role of local authorities in mobilizing capacity and engaging stakeholders: “Local authorities need to have the spirit to engage stakeholders and shape partnerships. We  also need governance models that tranced political cycles, and that allow people to participate and hold us accountable.”
  • Jens Broberg, representing the business sector, emphasized the urgent need for appropriate incentives: “Governments must use policy frameworks to incentivize and regulate businesses and industry towards a green economy.”
  • Evelina Fahlesson, vice-mayor of Skelleftea Municipality emphasized the need for open and honest dialogue: “As a municipality, you have to be open about your challenges and willing to start a dialogue with your citizens and companies. Use procurement and new financing models as tools to implement a shared vision.”
  • David Nordberg, from Skanska Sweden, encouraged business leaders to align their business models with sustainability ambitions: "Be brave: try new ways of doing business and work in collaborations. In the long term, there is no conflict between sustainability and the economy."

The session highlighted the pivotal role of collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships in achieving the green transition, emphasizing sustained political commitment, robust governance structures transcending political timelines, and policy frameworks incentivising sustainable businesses.

In the context of COP28, the true challenge lies in replicating these successful approaches on a wider scale, extending beyond the relatively affluent European context to a global landscape with more limited resources. In many regions, the urgent and acute impacts of climate change are already pervasive, amplifying the need for swift, comprehensive action. This necessitates a global and concerted effort of nations and industries, to surmount the hurdles posed by resource scarcity and varying levels of socio-economic development. This calls for collaboration not only within regions but across continents, fostering knowledge-sharing, technology transfer, and collective efforts in tackling climate challenges. The urgency of the climate crisis demands a united global front, where the lessons learned and successes achieved in Local Green Deals can serve as guiding principles towards a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

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Emma van der Vet, Digital Marketing at Deloitte, posted

Vaart maken met bestaanszekerheid? Schaal goede initiatieven op!

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Welke concrete stappen kan de overheid op korte termijn zetten om kwetsbare burgers te ondersteunen?

Bestaanszekerheid was een van de cruciale thema's tijdens de verkiezingen en zal dat ook tijdens de formatie zijn. Er zijn veel ideeën over lange termijn oplossingen, maar mensen hebben nu direct hulp nodig. Hoe kan de overheid op korte termijn kwetsbare burgers helpen? Schaal succesvolle projecten snel op, benut fondsen beter en maak gebruik van de kracht en invloed van het bedrijfsleven, adviseren John Schattori, Johan Stuiver en Channa Dijkhuis van Deloitte.

In Nederland leven bijna één miljoen mensen onder de armoedegrens. Ook worstelen steeds meer mensen om financieel het hoofd boven water te houden. Uit recent onderzoek van Deloitte blijkt dat van de 5000 ondervraagde huishoudens slechts de helft zonder problemen alle rekeningen kon voldoen. En bijna één op de vijf huishoudens had afgelopen jaar moeite met het betalen van essentiële levenskosten. Dit illustreert dat zelfs in een van de rijkste landen ter wereld een grote groep mensen in aanzienlijke onzekerheid leeft.
 
Het is dan ook niet verrassend dat 'bestaanszekerheid' een belangrijk thema was in alle verkiezingsprogramma’s. En terecht, want in een wereld van economische onzekerheid en maatschappelijke veranderingen, moeten we mensen beschermen tegen financiële kwetsbaarheid en sociale ontwrichting.
 
De politieke partijen hebben sterk uiteenlopende oplossingen voor het aanpakken van bestaanszekerheid die vooral gericht zijn op de lange termijn. Zo is een stelselwijziging noodzakelijk om gaandeweg te zorgen voor een eerlijk, eenvoudig en rechtvaardig systeem dat bestaanszekerheid voor iedereen biedt. Maar zo’n verandering is complex en tijdrovend, terwijl er nu een groeiende groep burgers is die direct dringend hulp nodig heeft. Over de vraag wat de overheid op de korte termijn al kan doen, vertellen John Schattorie, Partner Centrale Overheid, Johan Stuiver, Director WorldClass bij de Deloitte Impact Foundation en Channa Dijkhuis, Director Public Sector.

Pak de regie en werk samen

Een eerste stap voor de overheid is om in te zetten op projecten die hun succes al hebben bewezen. Veel experimenten en pilots gericht op het verhogen van bestaanszekerheid vinden plaats op gemeentelijk niveau. Maar wanneer zo'n experiment of pilot slaagt, ontbreekt het vaak aan verantwoordelijkheid voor verdere opschaling, constateren Schattorie, Stuiver en Dijkhuis.

Stuiver: “Dat is kapitaalvernietiging, omdat een geslaagd initiatief daardoor op gemeentelijk niveau blijft hangen, net als de kennis en ervaring. In die leemte, waarbij niemand zich eigenaar voelt en verantwoordelijkheid neemt, kan het Rijk vaker de regie pakken om opschaling mogelijk te maken, in samenwerking met de gemeente waar veel kennis zit.”

Schattorie: “We hebben nu eenmaal verschillende bestuurslagen in Nederland, maar daar moet het Rijk zich niet door laten weerhouden. Zij moet juist over deze lagen heen kijken, succesvolle initiatieven selecteren en onderzoeken wat nodig is om ze op te schalen.”

Innovatieve arbeidsmarktconcepten

Neem het innovatieve arbeidsmarktconcept van de basisbaan. Deze is bedoeld voor mensen die al langdurig in de bijstand zitten en moeilijk aan regulier werk kunnen komen. Dankzij het salaris van de basisbaan zijn zij niet langer afhankelijk van een uitkering. Het werk is van maatschappelijke waarde en verhoogt de leefbaarheid in buurten, denk aan onderhouds- en reparatiewerkzaamheden, zorgtaken en toezicht in de wijk.   

Dijkhuis: “Het opschalen van experimenten naar landelijk niveau is primair de verantwoordelijkheid van het Rijk. Zij zijn dan ook aan zet om zelf of in samenwerking met experts de opschaling te realiseren.”  Schattorie: “We zien dat betrokkenen bij de basisbaan er netto direct op vooruitgaan wat leidt tot verlaging van tal van maatschappelijke kosten. Dat verdient landelijke opschaling met steun van het Rijk, gemeenten, het bedrijfsleven en maatschappelijke organisaties.”  
 Stuiver: “De basisbaan is in een aantal gemeenten succesvol, maar heeft nog geen grote navolging gekregen op nationaal niveau. In plaats daarvan ontwikkelen veel gemeenten het concept vaak opnieuw.”  Dijkhuis: “Dat is het bekende psychologische effect van not invented here, waarbij nieuwe ideeën worden genegeerd omdat ze elders bedacht zijn. De overheid moet dit effect actief tegengaan.”

Betrek het bedrijfsleven

Een ander inspirerend voorbeeld van een initiatief dat opschaling naar landelijk niveau verdient is Stichting het Bouwdepot. Dat begon als een project van gemeente Eindhoven waarbij dertig thuisloze jongeren een jaar lang 1050 euro per maand ontvingen.  
 
Dijkhuis: “Het merendeel van de jongeren woonde na dat jaar zelfstandig en meer dan de helft was schuldenvrij. Dit laat zien dat als je mensen vertrouwen geeft en voor rust zorgt, ze bewuste keuzes maken.”  
Stuiver: “Pas als mensen financiële rust hebben kunnen ze de stap zetten om hun bestaanszekerheid te verbeteren, bijvoorbeeld door eindelijk alle post weer te openen, maatschappelijk actief te worden of zich te oriënteren op scholing of werk.” 
 
De vraag is nu hoe je dergelijke projecten slim opschaalt. Schattorie, Stuiver en Dijkhuis zien een belangrijke rol weggelegd voor het bedrijfsleven en maatschappelijke organisaties. Zij dragen immers al structureel bij aan initiatieven om bestaanszekerheid te verbeteren, bijvoorbeeld in onderwijs, financiële gezondheid, schuldhulpverlening en armoedebestrijding.   
 
Dijkhuis: “Feit is dat in publiek-private samenwerkingen (PPS-en) bestaanszekerheidsvraagstukken doorgaans effectiever, sneller en duurzamer kunnen worden opgelost. Niemand - overheid, bedrijfsleven of onderwijs - kan de huidige vraagstukken alleen oplossen. We hebben elkaar nodig, uit de PPS-en komen nieuwe inzichten en innovaties voort.”   
Stuiver: “Vanuit de Impact Foundation werken we bijvoorbeeld samen met onze klanten aan allerlei projecten rond financiële gezondheid voor verschillende doelgroepen, zoals SchuldenLab NL en Think Forward Initiative. Ook werken we met impact ondernemers om ongeziene talenten te helpen die moeite hebben hun plek in de samenleving te vinden.”  
Schattorie: “Het is wel nodig dat het bedrijfsleven gebundeld en voor de lange termijn haar bijdrage levert aan dergelijke programma’s, waar zij samen met de overheid de richting en inrichting van de oplossingen bepaalt. Vanuit een gemeenschappelijk belang, resultaatgericht en in onderling vertrouwen. Onze ambitie is dan ook dat we vaker samen met onze klanten gebundeld impact willen maken.”  Dijkhuis: “Nu zitten we nog te vaak met een ‘duizend bloemen bloeien-strategie’, het zou veel impactvoller zijn als je dat meer in lijn brengt met elkaar.”

Benut fondsen beter

Volgens Schattorie, Stuiver en Dijkhuis is het essentieel om met een meer geïntegreerde blik te kijken naar wat er nodig is om mensen weer op de been te helpen. Ze benadrukken dat het bedrijfsleven zich medeverantwoordelijk voelt en, mits de juiste randvoorwaarden worden gecreëerd, bereid is om meer te doen dan nu het geval is. Met andere woorden: er is genoeg potentie voor experimentele innovatie, capaciteit en budget. Het is de verantwoordelijkheid van de overheid om de regie nemen en deze zaken samen te brengen, waarbij ook fondsen beter benut kunnen worden.  
 
Schattorie: “Het aantal toeslagen, budgetten en fondsen voor het verhogen van de bestaanszekerheid en verminderen van armoede is enorm. Veel van deze budgetten blijven echter ongebruikt, bijvoorbeeld uit vrees voor de mogelijke effecten op andere toeslagen en kortingen.”  
 
Dijkhuis: “Onbekendheid en complexiteit van de beschikbare financiële steun is een belangrijke reden. Daarnaast is er in een aantal grote steden een versnipperd aanbod van honderden maatschappelijke initiatieven die zich per wijk en doelgroep op specifieke thema’s richten.” 

Stuiver: “De communicatie over deze regelingen loopt vaak via kanalen die voor (kwetsbare) burgers moeilijk te vinden zijn. Een oplossing zou zijn om bedragen uit fondsen proactief en automatisch toe te kennen aan diegenen die het nodig hebben. De impact hiervan is direct merkbaar.” 
 
Ondanks de politieke onzekerheden is één ding duidelijk: actie is nu nodig. Zelfs een demissionair kabinet kan initiatief nemen door samenwerking te stimuleren, regie te voeren en de beste initiatieven landelijk uit te rollen, menen Schattorie, Stuiver en Dijkhuis. In onderstaande tabel geven zij een aanzet voor de eerste praktische stappen. Want: bestaanszekerheid mag dan een complex politiek vraagstuk zijn, het is vooral een dringende maatschappelijke behoefte waar elke bestuurder vandaag nog mee aan de slag kan. 

Stappen om succesvolle initiatieven op te schalen

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Emma van der Vet, Digital Marketing at Deloitte, posted

Hoe brengen we weer lucht in het stikstofvraagstuk?

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De problematiek rondom stikstof is complex en ingrijpend. Ze is diep verweven met uiteenlopende sectoren, belangen en maatschappelijke discussies. Van de veehouderij tot de industrie, van de woningbouw tot de luchtvaart: de opgave die er ligt is enorm — ook voor overheden. Tegen welke dilemma's lopen zij aan? Hoe is de onderlinge rolverdeling? En welke concrete stappen kunnen overheden zetten om zaken weer vlot te trekken? Een dubbelinterview met Deloitte’s Gijsbert Duijzer, Partner Real Estate bij Deloitte, en Mario Kortman, Director Major Programs Public Sector bij Deloitte.

Gijsbert Duijzer kent de stikstofproblematiek op het platteland van binnenuit. Hij heeft in Wageningen gestudeerd en woont op een boerderij in de Gelderse Vallei: nergens in Nederland is de stikstofopgave groter dan daar. In zijn directe omgeving ziet hij veehouders op dit moment worstelen met hun toekomst-perspectief en signaleert hij veel wantrouwen in de (rijks)overheid.

Mario Kortman heeft uitgebreide ervaring in het begeleiden van complexe en politiek gevoelige dossiers voor de rijksoverheid, onder meer voor de ministeries van Economische Zaken, Sociale Zaken en Financiën. Hij is op z'n best als gangmaker van grootschalige transformaties voor beleidsdepartementen en uitvoeringsorganisaties.

Om te beginnen, waar zit de grootste uitdaging?

Kortman: "In de kern draait het om de vraag: hoe kom je tot een gebiedsgerichte aanpak die werkt? Hoe zorg je dat rijk, provincies en gemeenten elkaar gaan vinden in het belang van de regio? En dat al die verschillende lagen van stakeholders ook echt met elkaar gaan samenwerken? Dat organiseren is bij stikstof al extreem ingewikkeld. In die dynamiek spelen ook technische aspecten een rol. Zoals met wat voor model je stikstof meet en of de uitkomst van zo’n model zwart of wit is. Als je daarover een knoop hebt doorgehakt en een fragiele balans hebt gevonden tussen alle belangen, dan moet je dat ook nog toetsen aan de menselijke maat. Met andere woorden: hoe organiseer je na al die afspraken en modellen en regels ook nog ruimte voor individueel maatwerk? Ga er maar aan staan."

Wat wordt er specifiek van de overheid verwacht?

Duijzer: "Uiteindelijk draait het allemaal om twee vragen: 'Wat wordt het beleid?' en 'Hoe gaan we het uitvoeren?'. In dit dossier hebben we het dan concreet over perspectief en duidelijkheid bieden aan de agrariërs. Als overheid zul je boeren op korte termijn helderheid moeten bieden. Alleen dan kunnen zij onderbouwd keuzes maken. En op de lange termijn zijn betrouwbaarheid en voorspelbaarheid cruciaal, maar wees ook transparant als die helderheid nog niet op alle fronten geboden kan worden."

Bij wie zou de regie moeten liggen?

Duijzer: "Rijk, provincies en gemeenten hebben allemaal een cruciale rol. De rijksoverheid zal stabiele kaders moeten bieden voor de lagere overheden, zodat zij die kunnen invullen. Maar wie gaat er formeel over de natuurvergunning? Dat is de provincie. Zij is het bevoegd gezag dat een uitspraak kan doen over het langjarige perspectief van een boerenbedrijf op een specifieke plek. En die provincies komen net uit de verkiezingen, ze hebben zojuist nieuwe gedeputeerden aangesteld. Zij zitten met veel vragen, kijken naar het rijk, naar het RIVM, naar Europa... Dat helpt niet om snel duidelijkheid te kunnen geven. Ten slotte moeten we ook de rol van de gemeenten niet vergeten, zij zijn degenen die de boeren het best kennen en vaak veel vertrouwen genieten."

Hoe staan we er momenteel voor?

Kortman: "Veel problemen in onze tijd komen neer op het anders inrichten van de balans tussen economische activiteiten en onze natuurlijke omgeving. Dat is niet eenvoudig. Hoe bescherm je het milieu en onze voedselproductie? Hoe versnel je de reductie van uitstoot, maar verlies je geen mensen onderweg? Als rijksoverheid ben je daar niet altijd op ingericht. Veel vraagstukken overstijgen individuele beleidsdepartementen, bevatten interne tegenstrijdigheden die ook in de overheid zelf tot uitdrukking komen of missen een natuurlijke regiepartner in de samenleving. En dan heeft het stikstofvraagstuk nog een eigen minister — wat voor veel andere integrale vraagstukken niet geldt."

"Wat heb je in dit dossier aan consultants die nog nooit een koe van achteren hebben gezien?"

Duijzer: "En laten we niet vergeten: de samenleving zit niet altijd te wachten op een regievoerende overheid. Op het platteland wordt toch vooral met achterdocht naar de plannen uit Den Haag gekeken. Ook niet zo gek, want boerengezinnen worden geraakt in hun bestaanszekerheid en maatschappelijk worden er heel andere verwachtingen uitgesproken richting de boeren. Daar komt nog bij dat de huidige regelingen natuurlijk open staan voor agrariërs die willen stoppen — maar er zijn er heel veel die juist dóór willen. En ook zij staan momenteel op pauze. Ze weten niet óf ze door kunnen, hoe dan en waar. En wat hun buren gaan doen... Mensen weten niet waar ze aan toe zijn."

Vraagt dat om een andere rol van de overheid?

Kortman: "Absoluut. Het rijk moet structureel met onzekerheden leren omgaan. Immers, techniek is ambigu, wetenschap geeft geen eenduidige antwoorden, de spagaat tussen collectieve en individuele belangen groeit... In de afgelopen tien jaar is besturen gewoon veel ingewikkelder geworden. En dat zal ook niet eenvoudiger worden. Daar moeten we ons op instellen. Anders communiceren, anders kijken naar het mandaat van uitvoerders, naar de samenwerking tussen departementen. Dit speelt nu op stikstof, maar eigenlijk op veel méér terreinen, alleen al als gevolg van klimaatverandering."

Duijzer: "Tegelijk moeten we wel, overal waar het kan, die complexiteit zien te reduceren. Anders kom je eenvoudigweg niet uit de startblokken. Op een gegeven moment moet je zeggen: op de plekken waar we kúnnen beginnen met een gebiedsgerichte aanpak, gaan we ook starten. Dat vraagt om bestuurlijk lef: starten met de uitvoering terwijl er nog vragen open staan."

Misschien een gekke vraag, maar wat werkt níet?

Kortman: "We maken het onszelf vreselijk lastig als we met z'n allen blijven zoeken naar die silver bullet, naar die technische uitweg. Vastklampen aan technologische oplossingen is niet de oplossing. En als we ons vastleggen in complexe akkoorden waardoor er geen flexibiliteit meer is: dat werkt ook niet. Het leidt af én het heeft veel ongewenste neveneffecten. Want iedereen die net iets buiten de norm valt, belandt buiten de regeling — terwijl er maar een fractie verschil is met de buren. We moeten realistisch zijn en beseffen dat kleine stapjes voorwaarts soms het maximaal haalbare is."

Duijzer: "En wees daar ook eerlijk over. Veel zekerheden uit het verleden zijn er vandaag niet meer. Neem bijvoorbeeld de bank. Die financierde boeren altijd op basis van twee zekerheden, naast het onderpand: de vergunning en goedgekeurde technologie. Beide staan nu ter discussie. En dat zou best wel eens blijvend kunnen zijn. Alles kan veranderen. En dat geldt voor de overheid net zo. Als provincies nu op zoek gaan naar garanties voor boeren over vijftien jaar, dan gaan ze die niet vinden. We moeten niet vergeten: op dit moment staat de veehouderij praktisch stil. Bij de bank komen vrijwel geen nieuwe financieringsaanvragen meer binnen. Je moet als overheid durven zeggen dat je die duidelijkheid wél kunt geven voor de komende jaren en een richting voor de langere termijn, maar geen zekerheid voor de komende decennia."

En wat werkt wél?

Duijzer: "Momenteel maken we als onderdeel van onze opdracht van het ministerie van LNV een rondgang langs provincies, gemeenten, de georganiseerde landbouw en andere betrokken partijen om de huidige situatie in kaart te brengen. Onze inzet is: laat je niet verlammen door complexiteit. Er zijn voldoende punten waar je wel degelijk duidelijkheid kunt geven en waar je nu al concrete stappen kunt zetten. Ook als die boodschap niet leuk is. Er zijn nu eenmaal plekken waarvan je al weet: op deze locatie kan ik een boer wél perspectief bieden — maar op die andere plek is dat perspectief er gewoon niet. Begin op die punten met het verschaffen van duidelijkheid."

"Stel je als overheid kwetsbaar op, je hoeft niet alles te weten, maar je moet wel in beweging komen."

Kortman: "Precies. Begin klein waar het kan. Durf te starten zonder dat alle problemen al helemaal opgelost zijn. Ga een constructieve dialoog aan, met belangengroepen, banken en boeren, maar mobiliseer ook alle lagen van de overheid. Stel je als regievoerder kwetsbaar op, je hoeft niet alles te weten, maar je moet wel in beweging komen."

Tot slot: zijn er nog do's en don'ts die het stikstofvraagstuk meer lucht kunnen geven?

Kortman: "Een dichtgetimmerd landbouwakkoord of een technische eindwaarde die alles oplost? Dat gaat niet de oplossing bieden in dit dossier. De onzekerheid en complexiteit zijn daar eenvoudigweg te groot voor. Alleen door transparant te zijn over onzekerheden kun je de stikstofproblematiek verteerbaar en hanteerbaar maken. En als je ondersteuning zoekt van consultants, eis dan dat zij niet de materie platslaan in een kortetermijnoplossing — maar duurzaam begrip hebben van jouw uitdaging. Dat ze de strategische problemen snappen én dat ze met praktische, haalbare oplossingen komen."

Duijzer: "Bij Deloitte werken we vanuit begrip van de situatie, de problematiek en de context, zowel op inhoud en techniek als op de dynamiek in het stakeholderveld. Mooi voorbeeld in dit verband: we hebben voor het ministerie van LNV en de provincies de zaakbegeleiders geworven om met de boeren in gesprek te gaan, om samen op zoek te gaan naar een werkbare oplossing. We snappen welk profiel daarvoor nodig is en weten de juiste mensen te vinden. Verder voeren wij verkenningen uit bij alle betrokken partijen. Wat is er nodig om boeren perspectief te bieden? En wat is er minimaal vereist om te kunnen starten met een oplossing? We zijn vooral een verbinder die kan helpen om verbeteringen daadwerkelijk te realiseren en in te richten. Maar daarvoor moet je dus wel die brug kunnen slaan. Want wat heb je in dit dossier aan een consultant die nog nooit een koe van achteren heeft gezien?"

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Emma van der Vet, Digital Marketing at Deloitte, posted

Gevraagd: menselijke maat. Hoe de overheid een bijdrage kan leveren aan herstel van vertrouwen

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Deloitte experts Channa Dijkhuis en Franklin Heijnen delen in deze whitepaper hoe de overheid een bijdrage kan leveren aan het herstel van vertrouwen en hoe de menselijke maat een verschil kan maken.

Vertrouwen is de startmotor voor dingen die vanzelf lijken te gaan. Dat de auto zal starten en de tram zal rijden. Dat de collega's zich op tijd melden voor de meeting. Zonder vertrouwen raken processen geblokkeerd. Als dat op grote schaal gebeurt, gaat er maatschappelijk heel veel mis.

Deze whitepaper gaat over de vicieuze cirkel van wantrouwen — en hoe we die vanuit de overheid kunnen doorbreken. Hoe de menselijke maat een bijdrage kan leveren aan herstel van vertrouwen en welke zaken daar een rol bij spelen.

Want hoe belangrijk instituties, wetten en procedures ook zijn: uiteindelijk gaat het om mensen en relaties. Precies daarom is de menselijke maat de onmisbare norm bij alles wat we doen.

Er ligt een grote uitdaging. Overheden zullen het goede voorbeeld moeten geven. We zullen het moeten aandurven om vertrouwen te geven, voordat we het krijgen. En op de weg daarnaartoe zijn veel obstakels te overwinnen. Maar gelukkig hoeft niemand dat werk alleen te verrichten. Herstel van vertrouwen kan alleen in samenspel gebeuren.

Want in één ding hebben wij het volste vertrouwen: de menselijke maat mag bescheiden zijn — het resultaat is groots.

Download onze whitepaper voor diepgaande inzichten in het herstel van vertrouwen en de cruciale rol van de menselijke maat.

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Emma van der Vet, Digital Marketing at Deloitte, posted

Aanpak woningtekort: Begint met regievoering, verbinding en vereenvoudiging

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De gevolgen van de woningnood manifesteren zich op vele manieren, van studenten en dertigers die nog bij hun ouders wonen tot mensen met een middeninkomen die tussen wal en schip raken, en dak- en thuislozen zonder nachtopvang. Onbetwistbaar is dat huisvestingsproblemen en het ontbreken van een stabiele woonsituatie grote sociaaleconomische gevolgen met zich meebrengen, waaronder impact op werk, gezondheid en onderwijs.

Het is dan ook niet verrassend dat het woord 'bestaanszekerheid' vaak voorkomt in diverse verkiezingsprogramma's. Het vraagstuk is urgenter en nijpender dan ooit. Er is een behoefte aan 900.000 woningen vóór 2030 vastgesteld. Daarnaast stijgt het huidige woningtekort dit jaar van 3,9 procent naar 4,8 procent, grotendeels als gevolg van toenemende migratie, ouderen die langer thuis blijven wonen en het feit dat er steeds minder mensen samen in een huis wonen.

Hoe pakken we het woningtekort aan?

In reactie op het oplopende woningtekort zei demissionair minister Hugo de Jonge (Volkshuisvesting en Ruimtelijke Ordening): “We moeten met meer tempo en meer regie, meer betaalbare huizen gaan bouwen.” Maar: hoe doe je dat in zo'n complex krachtenveld?

Lennert Middelkoop en Gijsbert Duijzer leiden het Deloitte Real Estate team dat zich bezighoudt met alles rondom woningbouw. Momenteel werken ze in opdracht van het ministerie van BZK onder meer aan het versnellen van de realisatie van tijdelijke huisvesting.

Middelkoop: “Dat is ontstaan vanuit het idee dat we, naast analyses en diepgravend onderzoek, vooral de noodzaak zagen om te helpen bij het tekort aan realisatiekracht.”Duijzer: “We staan nu met onze voeten in de klei en zijn inmiddels betrokken bij zo'n 230 woningbouwprojecten door heel Nederland. We helpen onder meer woningcorporaties, bouwers, gemeentes, provincies, nutspartijen, en kijken wat er nodig is om de projecten van de grond te krijgen en richting realisatie te brengen. We spreken iedereen, werken met alle partijen samen, en maken op die manier verschil.”

Knelpunten

Duijzer en Middelkoop benadrukken dat het een complex vraagstuk is. Ze zien vier belangrijke knelpunten die de realisatie van huisvesting bemoeilijken. Draagvlak en locaties is een eerste punt. Middelkoop: “We merken dat er op bestuurlijk, politiek en maatschappelijk niveau vaak discussie en terughoudendheid is om bepaalde locaties toe te wijzen aan aandachtsgroepen, zoals arbeidsmigranten.” Duijzer: “Ruimte is schaars en er is altijd wel een reden te bedenken waarom er iets anders op een bepaalde plek moeten komen. Zeker als het gaat om mensen die momenteel niet tot de gemeenschap behoren van een bepaalde gemeente.”

Een tweede knelpunt is de business case die, zowel voor tijdelijke als reguliere huisvesting, op dit moment vaak niet rond te krijgen is. Duijzer: “Oorzaken zijn onder meer de stijgende rente en de hoge grond- en bouwkosten, waardoor de kosten van woningen te veel stijgen. Tegelijkertijd kun je de huurprijzen in de sociale huursector nauwelijks verhogen. Bovendien worden locaties nu vaak tijdelijk vergund voor een periode van maximaal 15 jaar, wat onduidelijkheid schept over de toekomst van deze woningen. Dit resulteert in een negatieve business case.”

Ruimtelijke ordening is een derde knelpunt. Duijzer: “De regelgeving rondom ruimtelijke ordening was al ingewikkeld, en de nieuwe omgevingswet zal bij veel gemeenten waarschijnlijk eerst vooral tot onzekerheid en vertraging leiden.” Middelkoop: “Iedereen heeft het recht er iets van te vinden, en er spelen vaak veel belangen. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de regels voor bezwaar en beroep of de flora- en faunawet. Het is belangrijk dat we regelgeving hebben voor dit soort zaken, het gaat immers over belangrijke thema's als leefbaarheid en duurzaamheid, maar op dit moment ontbreekt een integrale uitvoering.”

Het laatste knelpunt is nutsvoorzieningen. Duijzer: “In veel delen van het land is er netcongestie en een tekort aan materialen en personeel bij netbeheerders, wat leidt tot lange wachttijden voor elektriciteitsaansluitingen.”
Het laatste knelpunt is nutsvoorzieningen.

Duijzer: “In veel delen van het land is er netcongestie en een tekort aan
materialen en personeel bij netbeheerders, wat leidt tot lange wachttijden voor
elektriciteitsaansluitingen.”
 
"Om verschil te maken als overheid, moet je een uitvoerende regie pakken."

deloitte-nl-gijsbert-duijzer-inline.webp

Actieve betrokkenheid bij projecten

De grote vraag is hoe je binnen dit krachtenveld laveert en vooral wat dan wel werkt in de aanpak van het woningtekort. Als je als overheid verschil wilt maken, moet je een uitvoerende regie pakken, stellen Duijzer en Middelkoop. “Sturen door actief betrokken te zijn bij projecten”, zegt Duijzer. “Alleen op die manier kun je eigenaar worden van het probleem en echt snappen wat er in praktijk speelt. Actieve betrokkenheid legitimeert bovendien het beleid en helpt om de echte knelpunten te identificeren. Dat heeft tot gevolg dat je beleid en interventies kunt ontwikkelen die echt iets oplossen.”

Middelkoop: “Regie vanuit de Rijksoverheid is nodig. Als het gaat om draagvlak en locaties is het een illusie om te denken dat gemeenten daar alleen doorbraken zullen forceren. Daar ligt een taak voor de hele overheid.”
Duijzer: “De overheid moet locaties aanwijzen, maar dat moet wel hand in hand gaan met de uitvoering. Als je als Rijksoverheid actief en constructief betrokken bent bij de realisatie van woningbouwprojecten, en op basis daarvan locaties aanwijst, is dat veel effectiever en zal dat meer geaccepteerd worden dan wanneer je op afstand beleid formuleert.”

Middelkoop: “Een bindend beleidskader dat aanwijzen mogelijk maakt, heeft bovendien tot gevolg dat het voorspelbaar wordt waar in Nederland voor welke ruimtelijke invulling gekozen wordt. Daar is veel behoefte aan, ook bij professionele partijen die nu vaak moeten anticiperen op vele mogelijkheden en dan terugdeinzen voor grote investeringen zoals een robotlijn in een woningfabriek.”

Problemen vereenvoudigen

Volgens Duijzer en Middelkoop is er naast sturing en betrokkenheid bij de uitvoering van projecten nog een belangrijke rol weggelegd voor de Rijksoverheid: het verminderen van complexiteit. Middelkoop: “Bij de 230 projecten waar we bij betrokken zijn, zijn we continu bezig met het aanpakken van alle beren op de weg. We nemen elk probleem afzonderlijk ter hand en proberen het op te lossen."

"Ga in de bouwkeet of bij het projectteam zitten en vraag: wat hebben jullie nodig om een woning sneller neer te zetten?"

Duijzer: “Projecten lopen vaak vast door een overvloed aan uitdagingen. Het werkt echt om deze één voor één te lijf te gaan. Daarbij is het wel van belang dat alle partijen samenkomen, lef tonen en bereid zijn om concessies te doen.”Middelkoop: “Naast het geven van richting en het begrijpen van de lokale situatie, is het eveneens de taak van de Rijksoverheid om alle relevante partijen bijeen te brengen om samen te zoeken naar oplossingen. Het klinkt zo simpel, maar we merken vaak dat mensen soms jaren over elkaar kunnen praten, terwijl ze elkaar amper kennen.”

Het is verre van makkelijk om Nederland op een goede manier in te richten als het gaat om woningbouw. Middelkoop en Duijzer zeggen daarom: draai het om. Als het zo complex is op een plek, ga dan naar die plek toe om te praten met de betrokken partijen. Middelkoop: “Voer regie, zodat de uitvoering daar baat bij heeft, en niet andersom. Geef bindend richting en help waar nodig. Ga in de bouwkeet of bij het projectteam zitten en vraag: wat hebben jullie nodig om een bepaald type woning sneller neer te zetten? En pas dáár vervolgens je randvoorwaarden, beleid en regie op aan.”

Duijzer: “Regie en uitvoering zijn niet los van elkaar te zien. Als je draagvlak wilt creëren voor die regierol, hoort uitvoering daar altijd bij. Durf je te verhouden tot individuele projecten en ga ermee aan de slag. De rest volgt vanzelf. Na een bezoek aan een bouwkeet, gemeentehuis, woningcorporatie of participatieavond, ga je altijd naar huis met het idee: het kan anders, simpeler, en minder complex.”

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The Netherlands: country of cars and cows

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Last months, 25 facets of the quality of streets, neighbourhoods and cities have been discussed on this spot. But what are the next steps? How urgent is improvement of the quality of the living environment actually?
 
I fear that the quality of the living environment has been going in the wrong direction for at least half a century and in two respects:  

Country of cars

 
Firstly, the car came to play an increasingly dominant role during that period. Step by step, choices have been made that make traveling by car easier and this has had far-reaching consequences for nature, air quality, climate and environmental planning. Our living environment is designed based on the use of the car instead of what is ecologically possible and desirable for our health. At the same time, public transport is rarely a good alternative, in terms of travel time, costs and punctuality.  

Country of cows

 
A second structural damage to the quality of the living environment comes from the agro-industry. About one half of the surface of our country is intended for cows. These cows make an important contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that further destroy the remaining nature. But this form of land use also leads to inefficient food production, which also results in health problems.
 
In the next months I will explore two themes: 'Are 'self-driving' cars advantageous ' and the 'The merits of the 15-minute city'. These themes are case studies regarding the quality of the living environment and in both cases mobility and nature  play an important role.
 
After the publication of these two miniseries with zeven posts each, the frequency of my posts on this site will decrease, although I will continue to draw attention on the fundamental choices we have to make regarding environmental issues.
 
Meanwhile, I started a new blog 'Expeditie Muziek' (in Dutch). I have always neglected my love for music and I am making up for it now. I think readers who love music will enjoy my posts in which pieces of text alternate with YouTube videos as much as I enjoy writing them.
 
Curious? Visit the link below

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

25. Happiness

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This is the 25st and last episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is happiness. Happiness is both a building block for the quality of the living environment and at the same time it is shaped by it. This is what this post is about.

A municipality with residents who all feel happy. Who wouldn't want that? It is not an easily attainable goal, also because there are still many unanswered questions about the circumstances that make people happy.
In its broadest sense, happiness refers to people's satisfaction with their lives in general over an extended period.

Can happiness be developed?

Only in a limited way. According to Ruut Veenhoven, the Dutch 'happiness professor', half of happiness is determined by character traits, such as honesty, openness, optimism, forgiveness, and inquisiveness. Five societal characteristics determine the rest. These are a certain level of material wealth, social relations, health, living conditions and self-determination. In between, culture plays a role.

Happy and unhappy cities

What about the happiness of cities, for what it's worth? The happiness of cities depends on the self-declared degree of happiness (of a sample) of its inhabitants. Scandinavian cities dominate the top 10: Helsinki (Finland) and Aarhus (Denmark) rank first and second, Copenhagen (Denmark), Bergen (Norway) and Oslo (Norway) rank fifth, sixth and seventh. Stockholm (Sweden) is ninth. Amsterdam follows in 11th place. Two of the top ten cities are in Australia and New Zealand: Wellington, New Zealand's capital, ranks third and Brisbane (Australia) ranks tenth. The only top ten cities not in the Scandinavia or Australia and New Zealand are Zurich (Switzerland) and Tel Aviv (Israel).
The bottom five cities are mainly cities that have been strongly marked by wars and conflicts: Kabul in Afghanistan, Sanaa in Yemen, Gaza in Palestine, and Juba in South Sudan. Delhi (India) ranks the fifth place from the bottom, because of the perceived very poor quality of life.
Independently from the place where they live, people who are happy are characterized by longevity, better health, more social relationships, and active citizenship.

Can cities improve their inhabitants’ happiness?

A happiness-based policy provides 'resources' in the first place, such as a livable income, affordable housing, health care and, in addition, creates circumstances ('conversion factors') to support people in making optimal use these resources. For instance, through social work, opportunities for participation, and invitation to festivities, such as street fairs, car-free days and music in the street.
Municipalities such as Schagen and Roerdalen consider the happiness of their citizens as the first goal for their policy. Cities abroad that intend the same are Bristol, Seoul, and Vilnius, among others. Nevertheless, Nancy Peters (project leader happiness of the municipality of Schagen) remarks: <em>We cannot make people happy. But the government offers a frame that helps people to become happy</em>.
Together with the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO), the municipality of Schagen has agreed on 12 spearheads: meaningful work, meaningful contact, participation in social life, connection with the neighbourhood, social safety net, trust in the municipality, pride in the place where people live, satisfaction with relationships, sports facilities, quality of public space, neighborhood-oriented cooperation and the relationship between citizens and community.

The importance of participation

In the previous blogposts, many topics have been discussed that easily fit in one of these spearheads. In his book <em>The Architecture of Happiness</em>, Alain de Botton notes that the characteristics of the environment that ignite social activities contribute most to the pursuit of happiness.  In addition to the tangible properties of the living environment, participation by citizens plays is of importance as a direct consequence of self-determination.
25 years ago, residents of two streets in Portland (USA) decided to turn the intersection of those streets into a meeting place. At first, only tents, tables, chairs and play equipment were placed on the sidewalks, later the intersection itself was used at set times. After some negotiations, the city council agreed, if this would be sufficiently made visible. The residents didn't think twice and engaged in painting the street as visible as possible (See the image above). The residents agree that this whole project has made their lives happier and that the many activities they organize on the square still contribute to this.

The impact of happiness on the quality of the living environment.

But, what about the other way around, happiness as a building block for the quality of the living environment? Happy people are a blessing for the other inhabitants of a neighbourhood, because of their good mood, social attitude, willingness to take initiatives, and optimism regarding the future.  At their turn, happy people can make most of available resources in their living environment because of the above-mentioned characteristics.  Environmental qualities are not fixed entities: they derive their value from the meaning citizens give them. In this context, happiness is a mediator between environmental features and their appraisal by citizens.
Therefore, happy citizens can be found in Mumbai slums, and they might be happier than a selfish grumbler in a fancy apartment. At the same time, happy citizens might be best equipped to take the lead in collective action to improve the quality of the living environment, also because of the above-mentioned characteristics.
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Matias Cardoso, Data, Sustainable Mobility, Architecture , posted

Walkability index for Amsterdam 🚶‍♀️

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🚶‍♀️ How walkable is Amsterdam? 🚶‍♂️

🏘️ Ever wondered how pedestrian-friendly is your neighbourhood?
Do you feel encouraged and safe to walk in your surroundings?
Do the streets have too much traffic 🚦 and not enough trees 🌳?
 
Together with Vasileios Milias, we've developed CTstreets map, a new tool where you can check how your street scores in different walkability factors and what might be missing to make it more attractive for pedestrians.

👀 Explore the web tool here: https://miliasv.github.io/CTstreets/?city=amsterdam#15.18/52.371259/4.895385/0/45
🔍 Dive into the methodology and process on our info page: https://miliasv.github.io/CTstreets/info_page/

CTstreets is based on the results of my thesis "Amsterdam on Foot" where I developed a participatory approach to evaluate walkability in every street segment of Amsterdam using open data.
The categories available on the map are Overall walkability, Landscape, Crime Safety, Traffic Safety, Proximity and Infrastructure.

📍 With this tool, you can check how is the walkability per street, neighbourhood or walkshed (5 or 15 minutes) and switch between categories.

A disclaimer about the results presented: While based on the opinions of municipality workers, urban designers and advocates for pedestrian accessibility, this work might not reflect the opinion of everyone. After all, walkability is also influenced by personal factors. Furthermore, the data we used comes from open sources and it might not always be accurate / up to date. Ctstreets aims to enable the exploration of factors that impact walkability according to the experts in a simple, interactive, and fun way, and spark a conversation about how we think and design for pedestrians.

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

24 Participation

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This is the 24st episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is how involving citizens in policy, beyond the elected representatives, will strengthen democracy and enhance the quality of the living environment, as experienced by citizens.

Strengthening local democracy

Democratization is a decision-making process that identifies the will of the people after which government implements the results. Voting once every few years and subsequently letting an unpredictable coalition of parties make and implement policy is the leanest form of democracy. Democracy can be given more substance along two lines: (1) greater involvement of citizens in policy-making and (2) more autonomy in the performance of tasks. The photos above illustrate these lines; they show citizens who at some stage contribute to policy development, citizens who work on its implementation and citizens who celebrate a success.

Citizen Forums

In Swiss, the desire of citizens for greater involvement in political decision-making at all levels is substantiated by referenda. However, they lack the opportunity to exchange views, let alone to discuss them.
In his book Against Elections (2013), the Flemish political scientist David van Reybrouck proposes appointing representatives based on a weighted lottery. There are several examples in the Netherlands. In most cases, the acceptance of the results by the established politicians, in particular the elected representatives of the people, was the biggest hurdle. A committee led by Alex Brenninkmeijer, who has sadly passed away, has expressed a positive opinion about the role of citizen forums in climate policy in some advice to the House of Representatives. Last year, a mini-citizen's forum was held in Amsterdam, also chaired by Alex Brenninkmeijer, on the concrete question of how Amsterdam can accelerate the energy transition.

Autonomy

The ultimate step towards democratization is autonomy: Residents then not only decide, for example, about playgrounds in their neighbourhood, they also ensure that these are provided, sometimes with financial support from the municipality. The right to do so is formally laid down in the 'right to challenge'. For example, a group of residents proves that they can perform a municipal task better and cheaper themselves. This represents a significant step on the participation ladder from participation to co-creation.

Commons

In Italy, this process has boomed. The city of Bologna is a stronghold of urban commons. Citizens become designers, managers, and users of part of municipal tasks. Ranging from creating green areas, converting an empty house into affordable units for students, the elderly or migrants, operating a minibus service, cleaning and maintaining the city walls, redesigning parts of the public space etcetera.
From 2011 on commons can be given a formal status.  In cooperation pacts the city council and the parties involved (informal groups, NGOs, schools, companies) lay down agreements about their activities, responsibilities, and power. Hundreds of pacts have been signed since the regulation was adopted. The city makes available what the citizens need - money, materials, housing, advice - and the citizens donate their time and skills.

From executing together to deciding together

The following types of commons can be distinguished:
Collaboration: Citizens perform projects in their living environment, such as the management of a communal (vegetable) garden, the management of tools to be used jointly, a neighborhood party. The social impact of this kind of activities is large.
Taking over (municipal) tasks: Citizens take care of collective facilities, such as a community center or they manage a previously closed swimming pool. In Bologna, residents have set up a music center in an empty factory with financial support from the municipality.
Cooperation: This refers to a (commercial) activity, for example a group of entrepreneurs who revive a street under their own responsibility.
Self-government: The municipality delegates several administrative and management tasks to the residents of a neighborhood after they have drawn up a plan, for example for the maintenance of green areas, taking care of shared facilities, the operation of minibus transport.
<em>Budgetting</em>: In a growing number of cities, citizens jointly develop proposals to spend part of the municipal budget.

The role of the municipality in local initiatives

The success of commons in Italy and elsewhere in the world – think of the Dutch energy cooperatives – is based on people’s desire to perform a task of mutual benefit together, but also on the availability of resources and support.
The way support is organized is an important success factor. The placemaking model, developed in the United Kingdom, can be applied on a large scale. In this model, small independent support teams at neighbourhood level have proven to be necessary and effective.
 
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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

AMS Conference: Final call for submissions & keynote speaker announcement

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We're thrilled to share another round of exciting updates on the AMS Conference (April 23-24, 2024). As a quick reminder, the submission deadline has been extended to November 14th, providing you with an opportunity to be a contributor to this multi-dimensional event celebrating urban innovation and sustainability. Submit your abstract, workshop, or special session here 👉 https://reinventingthecity24.dryfta.com/call-for-abstracts
 
🎙️ Meet our keynote speaker: Charles Montgomery
We are honored to introduce Charles Montgomery, an award-winning author and urbanist, named one of the 100 most influential urbanists in the world by Planetizen magazine in 2023. Charles Montgomery leads transformative experiments, research, and interventions globally to enhance human well-being in cities.
 
His acclaimed book, Happy City, Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, explores the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. His presentation at the AMS Conference, "Your city should be a trust machine," delves into the critical role of trust in human happiness and societal success. As the world grapples with a trust deficit, Charles Montgomery shares insights drawn from over a decade of using lessons from behavioral science and psychology to turn cities into better social machines.
 
🚀 Don't miss your chance to contribute to the future of cities! For more details about submissions and to submit your abstract, workshop, and/or special session, visit our conference website 👉 https://reinventingthecity24.dryfta.com/call-for-abstracts

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

23. Governance

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This is the 23st episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is the way how the quality of the living environment benefits from good governance.

In 1339 Ambrogio Lorenzetti completed his famous series of six paintings in the town hall of the Italian city of Siena: The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. The image above refers to the characteristics of governance: Putting the interests of citizens first, renouncing self-interest, helpfulness, and justice. These characteristics still apply.

Rooted in the community

The starting point of urban policy is a long-term vision on the development of the city that is tailored to the needs and wishes of citizens, as they become manifest within and beyond the institutional channels of representative democracy. In policies that are rooted in the community, knowledge, experiences, and actions of those involved are also addressed. Each city has a pool of experts in every field; many are prepared to commit themselves to the future of their hometown.

Participation

Governance goes beyond elections, representative bodies, following proper procedures and enforcing the law. An essential feature is that citizens can trust that the government protects their interests and that their voices are heard. The municipality of Amsterdam has access to a broad range of instruments: co-design, Initiating a referendum, subsiding local initiatives, neighbourhood law, including the 'right to challenge' and neighbourhood budgets. I will deal with participation in the next post.

Two-way communication

Barcelona and Madrid both use technical means to give citizens a voice and to make this voice heard in policy. Barcelona developed the platform Decidem (which means 'We decide' in Catalan) and Madrid made available Decide Madrid ('Madrid decides'). Both platforms provide citizens with information about the policy, allow them to put topics on the policy agenda, start discussions, change policy proposals, and issue voting recommendations for the city council.
Madrid has developed its participatory electronic environment together with CONSUL, a Madrid-based company. CONSUL enables cities to organize citizen participation on the internet. The package is very extensive. The software and its use is free. Consul is in use in 130 cities and organizations in 33 countries and has reached some 90 million citizens worldwide.

City management

Each city offers a range of services and facilities, varying from the fire brigade, police, health services, municipal cleaning services to 'Call and repair' lines, enabling residents to report defects, vandalism, damage, or neglect. Nuisance has many sources: non-functioning bridges, traffic lights, behavior of fellow citizens, young and old, traffic, aircraft noise and neighbours. In many cases, the police are called upon, but they are too often unable or unwilling to intervene because other work is considered more urgent. This is detrimental to citizens' confidence in 'politics' and seriously detracts from the quality of the living environment.

Resilience

Cities encounter disasters and chronic problems that can take decades to resolve. Resilience is needed to cope and includes measures that reduce the consequences of chronic stress (e.g., communal violence) and - if possible - acute shocks (e.g., floods) and eliminate their occurrence through measures 'at the source.'
For an adequate approach to disasters, the fire brigade, police, and ambulances work together and involve citizens. This cooperation must be learned and built up through practice, improvisation and trust and is not created through a hierarchical chain of command.
 
 
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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

22. Nature, never far away

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This is the 22st episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is the way how the quality of the living environment benefits from reducing the contrast between urban and rural areas.

Photos from space show a sharp contrast between city and countryside. Urban areas are predominantly gray; rural areas turn green, yellow, and brown, but sharp contrasts are also visible within cities between densely built-up neighborhoods and parks. Even between neighborhoods there are sometimes sharp transitions.

The division between city and country

Large and medium-sized cities on the one hand and rural areas on the other are worlds apart in many respects and local government in municipalities would like to keep it that way. For a balanced development of urban and rural areas, it is much better if mutual cohesion is emphasized, that their development takes place from a single spatial vision and (administrative) organization and that there are smooth transitions between both. The biggest mistake one can made is regarding the contrast between city and country as a contradiction between city and nature. Where large-scale agriculture predominates in the rural area, the remaining nature has a hard time. Where nature-inclusive construction takes place in cities, biodiversity is visibly increasing.
The idea that urban and rural areas should interpenetrate each other is not new. At the time, in Amsterdam it was decided to retain several wedges and to build garden villages. Some of the images in the above collage show such smooth transitions between urban and rural areas: Eko Park, Sweden (top right), Abuja, Nigeria (bottom left), and Xion'an, China (bottom center). The latter two are designs by SOM, an international urban design agency that focuses on biophilic designs.

Pulling nature into the city

Marian Stuiver is program leader Green Cities of Wageningen Environmental Research at WUR. In her just-released book The Symbiotic City, she describes the need to re-embed cities in soil, water and living organisms. An interesting example is a design by two of her students, Piels and Çiftçi, for the urban expansion of Lelystad. The surrounding nature continues into the built-up area: soil and existing waterways are leading; buildings have been adapted accordingly. Passages for animals run between and under the houses (see photo collage, top left). Others speak of rewilding. In this context, there is no objection to a small part of the countryside being given a residential destination. Nature benefits!

Restoration of the rural area

The threat to nature does not come from urban expansion in the first place, but mainly from the expansion of the agricultural area. Don't just think immediately of the clearing of tropical rain woods to produce palm oil. About half of the Dutch land area is intended for cows. Usually, most of them are stabled and the land is mainly used to produce animal feed.
The development of large-scale industrialized agriculture has led to the disappearance of most small landscape features, one of the causes of declining biodiversity. Part of the Climate Agreement on 28 June 2019 was the intention  to draw up the Aanvalsplan landschapselementen . Many over-fertilized meadows and fields that are intended to produce animal feed in the Netherlands were once valuable nature reserves. Today they value from a biodiversity point of view is restricted and they are a source of greenhouse gases. Nature restoration is therefore not primarily focusses at increasing the wooded area. Most of the land can continue to be used for agricultural and livestock farming, provided that it is operated in a nature-inclusive manner. The number of farmers will then increase rather than decrease.

Pulling the city into nature

There are no objections against densification of the city as long this respects the green area within the city. So-called vertical forests by no means make up for the loss of greenery. Moreover, space is needed for urban agriculture and horticulture (photo collage, top center), offices, crafts, and clean industry as part of the pursuit of complete districts. Nature in the Netherlands benefits if one to two percent of the land that is currently used to produce animal feed is used for housing, embedded in a green-blue infrastructure. Some expansion and densification also apply to villages, which as a result are once again developing support for the facilities, they saw disappearing in recent decades.
Finally, I mentioned earlier that nature is more than water, soils, plants, and trees. Biophilic architects also draw nature into the built environment by incorporating analogies with natural forms into the design and using natural processes for cooling and healthy air. The 'Zandkasteel' in Amsterdam is still an iconic example (photo collage, bottom right).
 
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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

21. Work, also in the neighbourhood

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This is the 21th episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. Its topic is the combination of living and working in the same neighbourhood. This idea is currently high on the agenda of many city councils.  

Benefits for the quality of the living environment

If there is also employment in or near the place where people live, several residents might walk to work. That will only apply to relatively few people, but urban planners think that bringing living and working closer together will also increase the liveliness of the neighborhood. But more reasons are mentioned: including cross-fertilization, sharing of spaces, the shared use of infrastructure (over time), a greater sense of security and less crime. Whether all these reasons are substantiated is doubtful.
In any case, mixed neighbourhoods contributes to widening the range of residential environments and there is certainly a group that finds this an attractive idea. The illustrations above show places were living and work will be mixed (clockwise): Deventer (Havenkwartier), The Hague (Blinckhorst), Leiden (Bioscience Park), Amersfoort (Oliemolenterrein), Amsterdam (Ravel) and Hilversum (Wybertjesfabriek).  

Break with the past

Le Corbusier detested the geographical nearness of work and living. In his vision, all the daily necessities of residents of the vertical villages he had in mind had to be close to home, but the distance to work locations could not be great enough. Incidentally, very understandable because of the polluting nature of the industry in the first half of the 20th century. Nowadays, the latter is less valid. An estimated 30% of companies located on industrial sites have no negative environmental impact whatsoever. A location in a residential area therefore does not have to encounter any objections. The choice for an industrial site was mainly dictated because the land there is much cheaper. And that's where the shoe pinches. The most important reason to look for housing locations on industrial estates is the scarcity of residential locations within the municipality and consequently their high prices. Moreover, in recent decades the surface of industrial estates has grown faster than that of residential locations, at least until a couple of years ago.  

Companies are still hesitating

Companies are generally reserved about the development of housing in their immediate vicinity. Apart from the realistic expectation that the price of land will rise, they fear that this will be at the expense of space that they think they will need to grow in the future. This fear is justified: In the Netherlands 4600 hectares of potential commercial sites disappeared between 2016 and 2021. Another concern is that future 'neighbors' will protest against the 'nuisance' that is inherent to industrial sites, among others because of the traffic they attract. The degree of 'nuisance' will mainly depend on the scale on which the mixing will take place. If this happens at block level, the risk is higher than in case of the establishment of residential neighborhoods in a commercial environment. But as said, there is no need to fear substantial nuisance from offices, laboratories, call centers and the like. Companies also see the advantages of mixing living and working, such as more security.  

Searching for attractive combinations of living and working

Project developers see demand for mixed-use spaces rising and so do prices, which is an incentive for the construction of compact multifunctional buildings, in which functions are combined. To create sufficient space for business activity in the future, they advocate reserving 30% for business space in all residential locations. The municipality of Rotterdam counters this with a 'no net loss' policy regarding gross floor surface for commercial spaces.
Gradually, attractive examples of mixed living and working areas emerge. Park More (from Thomas More), the entrance area of the Leiden Bioscience Park, which will consist of homes, university facilities and a hotel (photo top right). The idea is that in the future there will also be room for the storage of rainwater, the cultivation of food and the production of the estate's own energy.
Another example, which can probably be followed in more places, is the transformation of the Havenkwartier Deventer into a mixed residential and working area, although part of the commercial activity has left and the buildings are being repurposed as industrial heritage (photo above left). The starting point is that, despite hundreds of new homes, the area will retain its industrial and commercial character, although some residents complain about the 'smoothening' of the area'. Living and working remains a challenging combination, partly depending on where the emphasis lies. In this respect, many eyes are focused on the substantiation of the plans of Amsterdam Havenstad.
 
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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Expeditie Muziek

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Ik heb de laatste jaren honderden posts geschreven over stedelijke ontwikkeling, innovatie en organisatie. Vele daarvan hebben op deze website gestaan. Ik verschuif mijn schrijfactiviteiten geleidelijk naar het thema waarvan mijn hart sneller gaat kloppen, namelijk muziek.  In mijn nieuwe Nederlandstalige blog 'Expeditie muziek' (zie de link hieronder) verken ik wekelijk een ander facet.  Deze week is dat de geschiedenis van de blues, vorige week heb ik een top tien samengesteld van de in mijn ogen mooiste Nederlandstalige liedjes 'ooit'. Neem eens een kijkje.

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

19. Safe living environment

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This is the 19th episode of a series 25 building blocks to create better streets, neighbourhoods, and cities. This post is about increasing the independent mobility of children and the elderly, which is limited due to the dangers that traffic entails.

For safety reasons, most urban children under the age of ten are taken to school. The same goes for most other destinations nearby. It hampers children’s independent mobility, which is important for their development.

Car-free routes for pedestrians and cyclists

For security reasons, car-free connections between homes and schools, community centers, bus stops and other facilities are mandatory (photo’s top left and bottom right). Car routes, in their turn, head to neighborhood parking spaces or underground parking garages. Except for a limited number of parking spaces for disabled people.

Design rules

Model-wise, the design of a residential area consists of quadrants of approximately 200 x 200 meters in which connections are primarily intended for pedestrians and cyclists. There are routes for motorized traffic between the quadrants and there are parking facilities and bus stops at the edges. Inhabitants might decide that cars may enter the pedestrian area at walking pace to load and unload to disappear immediately afterwards. The routes for pedestrians and cyclists connect directly with the shops and other destinations in the neighborhood, based on the idea of the 15-minute city. Shops 'ideally' serve 9 to 16 quadrants. In practice, this mode will have many variations because of terrain characteristics, building types and aesthetic considerations.

Examples

The number of neighborhoods where cars can only park on the outskirts is growing. A classic example is 'ecological paradise' Vauban were 50 'Baugruppen' (housing cooperatives) have provided affordable housing (photo bottom middle ). Car-free too is the former site of the Gemeentelijk waterleidingbedrijf municipal water supply company in Amsterdam - (photo bottom left). Here almost all homes have a garden, roof terrace or spacious balcony. The Merwede district in Utrecht (top middle) will have 12,000 inhabitants and for only 30% room for parking is available, and even then only on the edge of the district. Shared cars, on the other hand, will be widely available. The space between the houses is intended for pedestrians, cyclists and children playing.

More emphasis on collective green

Due to the separation of traffic types and the absence of nuisance caused by car, there are no obligatory streets, but wide foot- and cycle paths. Instead there are large lawns for playing and picnicking, vegetable gardens and playgrounds. Further space savings will be achieved by limiting the depth of the front and back gardens. Instead, large collective space appears between the residential blocks; remember the Rivierenwijk in Utrecht that I mentioned in the former post (top right). Behind the buildings, there is room for small backyards, storage sheds and possibly parking space.
 
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