EUR 450 million for improving urban centres

The government is to invest EUR 450 million up to the year 2010 in cleaning up hazardous land-use situations (such as railway yards), the development of urban networks, and the creation of strategic green amenities in and around urban areas. Agreement has to date been reached on five projects.

An initial inventory has also been drawn up of promising projects. The purpose of the investments is to support the implementation of the Fifth Spatial Planning Memorandum. This is stated in a letter to the Lower House by the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Jan Pronk.

The money (from the Spatial Quality Investment Budget, BIRK) is intended to promote the development of urban centres and to strengthen the rural environment - the main tasks as set out in the Fifth Spatial Planning Memorandum. In urban areas the aim will be to create safe, healthy centres where people will want to live, work and spend their time. This can be achieved by removing risks, health hazards and barriers and promoting the quality of the environment.

Investments are also needed in rural areas. Maintaining the open spaces around towns and cities and making green space accessible to town-dwellers, while at the same time protecting the countryside from the pressure of recreational activities, demands creative solutions. The development of Â'National LandscapesÂ' is a particularly important theme in the Fifth Spatial Planning Memorandum. Results should be achievable in the short term.

Agreements have been made for the following projects.

1. The Hasco paint factory will be moved from Schoonhoven to Tiel. This will prevent an undesirable expansion into the Â'Green HeartÂ', the largely unspoilt rural area in the central part of the Netherlands. The governmentÂ's contribution will be EUR 3.18 million.
2. The glasshouses in the Bommelerwaard region will be bought out. In consultation with the Rural Areas Department (Dienst Landelijk Gebied), an appropriate use will be sought for the land. The governmentÂ's contribution will be EUR 11.8 million.
3. Sinking the A4 motorway below ground level at the point where the HSL-Zuid high-speed rail link emerges from the tunnel under the Â'Green HeartÂ' (near Hoogmade) will enable the railway track to cross the motorway at ground level. The government is contributing EUR 7.9 million.
4. Extending the sunken section of the widened A4 motorway near Leiderdorp will create opportunities in the surrounding area for high-quality housing construction and business location. The government is contributing EUR 24.4 million.
5. Between 40 and 50 LPG filling stations will be cleaned up in urban areas. The governmentÂ's contribution amounts to EUR 15 million.

Assessment of projects
The eligibility of projects for funding will be assessed on the basis of concrete proposals. Those submitting proposals must state why they consider their proposal to be eligible for subsidy. Among other things, the assessment will look at the proposalÂ's contribution to spatial planning policy, funding by other parties, specificity, urgency and level of support.

Negotiations will then begin on the performance to be delivered, and the financial contributions of the various stakeholders will be assessed in connection with this. During this phase the projects will be prioritised in order of urgency; some proposals may be rejected at this stage.

Once agreement has been reached on the performance and funding, the agreements will be laid down in writing. Each project will be monitored to ensure compliance with the agreements made.

(source: Ministry of Housingm Spatial Planning and the Environment)

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