Spatial Planning Strategy for The Hague’s Central Innovation District

90,000 people are employed there, 30,000 people study there, and in the coming twenty years 50,000 residents will move into a home there. The Central Innovation District (CID), located between three train stations - Den Haag Centraal, Den Haag Hollands Spoor and Den Haag Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië - is only going to continue growing in the coming years. The Municipality of The Hague wants to develop the area into a highly urban, sustainable, economic, liveable and inclusive heart of the city, with excellent accessibility and international allure.

The municipality intends for all developments in the area to be interconnected, to strengthen each other, and to create synergy with one another. To achieve this, the existing CID Agenda is being converted into a strategy with a spatial development perspective for the period until 2040. Witteveen+Bos was contracted by the municipality to produce the spatial planning strategy and an accompanying environmental impact assessment.

The CID is one of the largest inner city development locations in the Netherlands. Approximately 20,500 additional homes, with living space for around 40,000 new residents, will be created there. The municipality also envisages 600,000 m2 of new offices and 260,000 m2 of commercial and social services.

How do you fit all that in? And what is the best mix?

Witteveen+Bos investigated a number of alternative plans for the area and mapped out their respective impact, including on the environment. A Memorandum on the Scope and Detail and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) were created as part of this. Witteveen+Bos also provided advice on the EIA procedures to be followed, including the process to be undergone with the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment. The EIA results were then incorporated in the spatial planning strategy for the CID. This currently forms the legal/planning framework against which the municipality can assess the CID’s spatial development.

The EIA

The EIA investigated various alternatives regarding the relevant challenges and ambitions. The alternatives focused on the two most dominant choices for the area: (1) the height of the construction programme and (2) the mobility transition strategy. Comparing these alternatives made it clear which advantages and disadvantages of certain choices for the environment existed, as well as what the conditions, limitations and opportunities of the plans were. The EIA demonstrated that a mobility transition is needed to keep the CID accessible and liveable. A transition from car to either public transport, bicycle or walking would offer many opportunities to genuinely achieve health, climate and energy objectives.

Spatial planning strategy for the CID

The (interim) results of the EIA were used to prepare the CID’s spatial planning strategy. The strategy is the following step in translating the strategic vision as well as ambitions, policy choices and investment priorities into a spatial planning perspective. It forms a substantive framework for assessing initiatives and proposed zoning plans for the area. With this strategy, the Municipality of The Hague offers an integrated long-term vision for the area’s spatial development, including spatial framework, mobility strategy, programming economic functions and housing, and sustainability. The strategy also determines the contours of the programming challenge for priority areas, as well as ensuring connectivity and safeguarding cohesion.

This integrated long-term vision envisages a CID that will develop into an innovation district: a global meeting place and an international hub for innovation. The biggest challenge is to continue finding a suitable balance between the use of space and the range of existing ambitions - ‘densification and strengthening of functionality’, ‘connecting people and areas’ and ‘greening and improving sustainability’. The spatial planning strategy for the CID means that a document now exists which aims towards the desired level of integration and provides the municipality with greater control. In the spatial planning strategy’s further development, various products which contribute to improved spatial quality will be drawn up for the different areas.

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