Cities and Private Planning

Cities and Private Planning

Property Rights, Entrepreneurship and Transaction Costs

Edited by David Emanuel Andersson and Stefano Moroni

Through comprehensive case studies of privately planned cities and neighbourhood in Asia, Europe and North America, this book characterizes the theoretical basis and empirical manifestations of private urban planning. In this innovative volume, Andersson and Moroni develop an understudied aspect of urban planning and re-evaluate conceptions of our urban future.

Chapter 12: The public planning of private planning: an analysis of controlled spontaneity in the Netherlands

Edwin Buitelaar, Maaike Galle and Niels Sorel

Subjects: economics and finance, austrian economics, institutional economics, urban economics, urban and regional studies, cities, urban economics, urban studies


There is a resurgence of the ideas of Jane Jacobs (1961) in several advanced economies, including the Netherlands. Many people want cities that are mixed, have a human scale and are developed from the bottom up, using what is already there and not starting from scratch. It appears that the modernist project is in decay. Although there are still many large-scale strategic spatial projects (Oosterlynck et al., 2010), often executed as public-private partnerships, there is a tendency in the direction of more small-scale initiatives in which the end-users are involved more directly and earlier in the process (Urhahn Urban Design, 2010; Hajer, 2011; 00:/, 2011). This process seems to have been accelerated by the financial crisis of 2008. Both government and corporate actors have run out of resources. Therefore, a book on ‘private planning,’ or more specifically on the planning by end-users, is very timely. In a country such as the Netherlands, this shift towards more incremental bottom-up urban development is not straightforward, particularly not for the government. It requires different–not necessarily less–government, government that is enabling rather than active and steering. Contemporary institutions do not always allow for such a shift. Path dependence (North, 1990) does seem to play a role. This institutional conflict is the subject of this chapter. How do small-scale private planning initiatives relate to an institutional setting that has evolved around a type of urban development that is comprehensive, integrated and strongly public?

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