For more than 25 years, the Groningen-Assen region (Regio Groningen Assen, or RGA) has been a successful partnership based on the daily urban system and the cohesive housing market of the cities of Groningen and Assen and their surrounding areas. The region is characterized by a wide range of living environments, from dynamic and highly urban to quiet and green. The diversity of the landscape is another distinguishing feature, providing an attractive environment for living, working and recreation. The RGA plays an important economic role in the Northern Netherlands. Almost half a million people live in the region, which provides almost a quarter of a million jobs. It has a strong knowledge-based economy and is home to leading knowledge and education institutions. In recent decades, the RGA has invested heavily in high-quality public transport links throughout the region.
The Netherlands has a severe housing shortage, and the Groningen-Assen region is no exception. For this reason, in 2019 the municipality of Groningen made a ‘housing deal’ (Woondeal) with the government to build 20,000 homes by 2030. The housing deal is being developed on a regional level (36,000 new homes by 2040), because the effects of the housing shortage and the development of new construction affect the entire region .
The housing challenge offers opportunities to do much more for strong regional development. Several challenges are converging in the region:
1) Housing: responding to the challenge of construction and development while preserving spatial quality
2) Jobs: boosting the region’s competitiveness
3) Mobility: maintaining permanent access to current and future prime locations and a well-functioning daily urban system
|4) Energy: providing space for the energy revolution
5) Landscape: leveraging and strengthening current climate and quality-of-life ambitions
These shared challenges require an integrated, regional and strategic approach
The RGA’s urbanization strategy offers the prospect of a complete, cooperative and complementary region where everyone has the opportunity to find a suitable and affordable home in a pleasant and inspiring living environment.
The construction of these 36,000 new homes naturally requires some changes. To this end, seven development principles have been drawn up for the RGA. These principles focus on smart concentration, strategic distribution, exploiting and reinforcing the public transport network, and the improvement of green spaces in and around the city.
- Boost the existing urban area
- Increase agglomeration strength
- Encourage polycentric development
- Balanced mobility Proportional and appropriate
- Leverage restructuring
- Work together for a sustainable region
Housing creates proximity
The region has focused on locations for the construction of 36,000 homes, which has resulted in greater proximity to work and home, amenities and nature, as well as more freedom of choice and equality of opportunity for everyone throughout the region. Active mobility and healthy lifestyles are key: there is more walking and cycling in towns and villages. And for longer distances, the proximity of public transport offers an alternative to the car.
This new direction is a fitting response to the high demand for urban living, close to work and amenities. There were opportunities in all the region’s existing towns and villages, which presented financial and spatial challenges in the short term, but which will add social value once completed. Speed was also important: the starting situation was urgent and the focus was on affordability. In addition to new construction, smart conversions and other housing-market solutions were used to achieve this.
The beautiful and varied landscape of the region and the existing cities and villages have been enhanced. The ‘green contrast’ has become more cohesive and the areas have developed into a landscape of value to the RGA and beyond. In this way, the region has maintained its individuality as a ‘starry sky with big and small cores’ and uses the contrasts as a strength. The working landscape has developed in a polycentric way. The centres have developed their own specializations and profiles as economic drivers, while maintaining and reinforcing regional cohesion.
The various strategic challenges are summarized in the nine sub-areas. To this end, the various map layers (themes) are literally superimposed.
- City of Assen, intensifying the heart of the green city
- City of Groningen, making a leap in scale on the western and eastern flanks
- Sustainable renewal along the transport axes
- Hoogezand core, a connecting ribbon
- Leek-Roden core, further development on a village scale
- The landscape of Wierden and Zeeklei, landscape taking the lead
- The Drentse Dorpsweg, a connecting ribbon
- The Laagveengordel landscape and Esdorpen, landscape taking the lead
From urbanisation strategy to implementation strategy
Residential projects can be grouped regionally to work towards common goals and overcome common challenges. For example, they can include station areas, regeneration areas, work area plans, expansion plans and, most importantly, ‘small is beautiful’ plans. We call these shared projects strategic programmes. Some projects are also called key projects because they are an example of how you can work in an integrated way, combining living, working, greening, energy and mobility. The seven principles of regional development come together in these key projects. They are examples of putting the new regional initiative into practice and they form an important part of the RGA implementation strategy.
Proximity is central to the RGA’s urbanization strategy. Adding homes to existing urbanized areas also creates investment power for better green-blue provision in towns and villages. As a result, the quality of life in the region improves. The working landscape is developing in a polycentric way. The centres have developed their own specializations and profile as economic drivers, while maintaining and strengthening regional cohesion. The rural space remains vast, but is also richer in integrated solutions to the major societal challenges of the 21st century: climate adaptation, biodiversity enhancement, sustainable agriculture and the energy transition. This spatial quality and economic strength in a sustainable regional system puts the whole RGA on the map: a complete, complementary and cooperative region where everyone can live, work and enjoy spending time.
Groningen-Assen Urbanization Strategy
Proximity is central to RGA’s urbanization strategy. Adding homes to existing urbanized areas also creates investment power for better green-blue balance in towns and villages. This improves the quality of life in the region. The working landscape is developing in a polycentric way, with the centres having their own specializations and profiles as economic drivers, while maintaining and strengthening regional cohesion. The rural space remains vast, but is also richer in integrated solutions to the major societal challenges of the 21st century: climate adaptation, biodiversity enhancement, sustainable agriculture and the energy transition. This spatial quality and economic strength in a sustainable regional system puts the whole RGA on the map: a complete, complementary and cooperative region where everyone can live, work and enjoy spending time.
- Groningen-Assen Urbanization Strategy
- Regio Groningen Assen, NL
- Regio Groningen Assen, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken & Koninkrijksrelaties
- Urban Design
- De Zwarte Hond
- Bureau PAU, Estheticon Projectadvies
- More info