Regional diversity in residential development: a decade of urban and peri-urban housing dynamics in The Netherlands

D. Broitman, E. Koomen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Residential development is a dynamic process, as changes in housing stock vary substantially over space and time. These spatiotemporal dynamics are expected to differ in various hierarchical levels of urban areas. Urban cores, peri-urban areas and predominantly rural areas are likely to experience different housing development processes as the economic and demographic drivers of change are different in these areas. To obtain a deeper understanding of recent changes in urban development, we analyse the residential stock development in the Netherlands, measured as the number of housing units available. At the national level housing stock is continuously growing at a fairly stable rate of 1.1 %. Disaggregating the national data into different hierarchical levels we find that in absolute numbers urban cores are growing more than peri-urban areas. However, in relative terms, peri-urban areas are growing faster than urban cores. At the regional level we find substantial differences between different geographical zones. The Randstad—the western and most urbanized region of the country—is growing more than the other regions. This is the only region, however, where residential stock in peri-urban zones grew faster than their associated urban cores. Testing the different regions and hierarchical levels for their correspondence with the generally accepted Gibrat’s law of proportionate growth, we find that the urban cores in the Randstad are growing less than could be expected from their initial size. Their peri-urban areas, on the other hand, are growing faster than their initial size would suggest. These findings hint a degree of saturation of the current urban cores in this region and a spill-over of residential development into their peri-urban areas. The study is complemented by an explanatory analysis linking socio-economic indicators and physical planning criteria (such as the amount of land available for the development and the presence of restrictive policies) to the observed residential stock development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-217
JournalLetters in Spatial and Resource Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date10 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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