Government bodies, do not miss the opportunity to collaborate in NOVEX!

Cobouw column by Ellen Weerman

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The perception that prevailed around 2010 that ‘the Netherlands is done building’ and that there was no immediate need for national spatial planning is proving outdated. Issues such as housing shortage, the nitrogen crisis, energy transition, groundwater depletion and salinisation and changing mobility are now dominating the news on a daily basis. Dealing with the limited space poses a huge headache. This requires a revised vision of spatial planning. A first step was taken to this end with the return of the ministerial post for Housing and Spatial Planning in 2021, occupied by Hugo de Jonge. In 2022, the Minister introduced the NOVEX programme, with the aim of gaining more control in the battle for our limited space.

Government bodies can use NOVEX to help shape the acceleration, reinforcement and implementation of the spatial conundrum. First, it needs to be clear what the spatial requirements are and what we need to accommodate spatially. The provinces can then translate the national challenges and goals into provincial plans. NOVEX areas have been designated where plans overlap or transcend regions. The provinces and NOVEX areas will come up with a spatial proposal for the resolving the puzzle in October 2023.

These are ambitious plans. How do government bodies realise this within such a short time frame? How do they ensure projects are both feasible and sanctioned while complying with legislation and regulations? How do they accelerate decision-making and implementation capacity? This requires early insight into support and whether the plans can be executed. And it is precisely in these areas that government bodies need the construction industry to bridge the gap between strategic governmental planning and concrete projects. To this day, it remains quiet. A missed opportunity.

Which is why I would like to advocate early involvement of market expertise. Involve builders, developers, design agencies and engineering firms as much as possible! We are used to working on complex and multidisciplinary projects and can help with making plans concrete, with feasibility studies and SCBAs, and by providing insight into environmental and ecological aspects. The issues are much too urgent and the time frame too short for government bodies to tackle this alone. 

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