In a densely populated country such as the Netherlands, a restrictive spatial planning policy is generally believed to be necessary to balance the numerous and often contradictory claims on space of households, industries, infrastructure and agriculture, and other functions. Clearly, such a policy is expected to have beneficial effects. However, it should be equally clear, from its restrictiveness, that there are costs associated with such a policy. In this contribution the appropriateness of social cost benefit analysis is considered as a tool for the evaluation of spatial policy in the Netherlands. The paper starts with a brief overview of a major characteristic of this analysis and discusses its potential importance for the evaluation of spatial planning in the Netherlands. The discussion continues with the possibility of assessing the cost and benefits associated with non-market goods, which is perhaps the main controversial aspect of SCBA, by focusing on the relevant example of the value of open space in cities. © 2007 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG.