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ResearchUrban and Regional Studies InstituteResearch projects

Improving road infrastructure planning in the Netherlands, Towards a programmatic planning approach

Principal researcher

Tim Busscher

Type of research


Supervisor(s) Taede Tillema

Prof.dr. Jos Arts


The current project-oriented infrastructure planning in the Netherlands often does not run smoothly. Many projects are halted because of negative court cases. They fail to meet the dynamic (environmental) regulations in a complex environment. An important reason is the direct and strict linkage between decision-making regarding infrastructure (and spatial) projects on the one hand, and environmental permits on the other hand. The room for mitigation measures to ease negative environmental impacts is rather limited at a project level. In addition, EU-regulations tend to focus not only at impact assessments and permits of activities/projects, but also on the maintenance of the environmental quality of areas by requiring monitoring, management plans, and by taking action to remediate negative developments. Recently, a policy shift can be seen from project-oriented towards more program-oriented assessments of infrastructure and of environmental policies. A program aims to reach an overarching goal and contains different projects. Examples are the Long-range Program Infrastructure, Space and Transport (MIRT, ‘Meerjarenprogramma Infrastructuur, Ruimte en Transport’) and the National Cooperation Program on Air Quality (NSL, ‘Nationaal Samenwerkingsprogramma Luchtkwaliteit). Decision-making on a higher (programmatic) level offers opportunities to give more attention to ‘use and necessity’ discussions and gives the possibility to deal with complex issues in a more flexible way. This research theme aims to gain insight into the extent to which a programmatic approach for infrastructure planning can relieve the current problems in Dutch infrastructure planning (i.e., time and cost overruns, and low quality project plans). The effectiveness of programs is mapped out and key factors for success and failure as well as essential conditions to come to a useful program planning approach are explored. To develop sustainable planning approaches for infrastructure also insights are necessary into: relationships between program management and project development, the relevance of strategic policy planning, the cooperation between relevant actors (both public-public and public-private partnerships), and the potential institutional hindrance. Case study methods, questionnaires and interviews are used to gain such insights.

Last modified:03 June 2014 10.34 a.m.