Analysing the potential for further urban densification: a case study for the Netherlands

J. Claassens, E. Koomen, B.C. Rijken

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Urban areas in the Netherlands are rapidly transforming. Many new houses have been built to replace e.g. vacant industrial buildings or fill under-used sites, but it is unclear whether such transformations can accommodate the projected growth in housing stock. This study analyses the spatial and economic feasibility of further intensification. It focusses on quantifying the costs and benefits of two types of densification: changing the main function of current urban areas (e.g. from industrial to residential), or densifying these areas (i.e. adding extra housing units to existing residential areas). In order to quantify the different components of these transformation costs, a literature study and interviews with sector experts were conducted. These main factors influencing the local costs and benefits for densification include: actual land-use, building-type, building age, soil contamination, accessibility, and others.

In cooperation with the municipality of The Hague, a case study was set up to analyse a selection of potential transformation sites in the city. This case study aided in revealing the different costs and benefits of transformation projects. Using the insights gained in the literature review and case study analysis and applying a spatially-explicit modelling approach (Land Use Scanner), we simulated potential transformation under different socio-economic scenarios. In this approach the potential for transformation was calculated based on current land-use, zoning regulations, building characteristics, transformation costs and other location-specific characteristics related to for example local accessibility. These suitability scores were used in combination with the regional projected housing demand to find the most likely areas for urban densification/transformation. Furthermore, this tool is used to evaluate the implications of relevant alternative policy measures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event57th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: Social Progress for Resilient Regions - Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 29 Aug 20171 Sept 2017
Conference number: 57


Conference57th Congress of the European Regional Science Association
Abbreviated titleERSA
Internet address


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