The Netherlands, but the rest of Europe as well, has a number of municipalities and regions that have to deal with declining populations and a changing demography of residents, also called shrink
. Young people move to the big cities and the inhabitants of the villages are aging. Shrink results in unoccupied homes, not used offices and empty shopping streets which has a major impact on the spatial development and the quality of life.
Each contracting region in the Netherlands has its own opportunities and abilities
that can be enhanced to increase the quality of life in a town or city. This can be a historic centre, proximity to primary and secondary schools or for example the presence of a beautiful green landscape or water. Because of our interest in the built environment we have investigated both the cause and possible strategies to shrinkage, where we came up with ‘acceptance’ as a strategy to be a unpopular but good and sustainable solution.
Shrinkage is often contested by local governments by investing in shopping areas and by building more homes on the high-end market in order to attract more people. However, there is also another possibility; Accepting the populations decline where the consequences are monitored properly. A city, town or region will be forced to think about his abilities to emphasize those facts. This allows for enhancing the quality of the living environment for the current residents so that the downfall of inhabitants stops, and an increase may be even made possible again. For example, strengthen the historic centre by improving access and identity and do not invest in the shopping area with the empty shop premises. Pick up the cause at the base and prevent "sticking plaster", only thus you create a sustainable and stable future. As an example, we have developed this strategy for a city in Limburg, for more information please contact us. If you would like to know more about our research on this subject, please feel free to contact us.
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