Public-private collaboration in urban transformation: different models, same results?

Authors: Martijn Van Den Hurk*, University of Amsterdam
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: Public-private, partnership, redevelopment, regeneration, contract, risk, planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Poydras, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the early 1990s Dutch local governments have embarked on public-private partnerships to regenerate inner-city areas and brownfields (‘urban transformation’). These arrangements are often organized as joint-ventures, concessions, or other structures involving risk transfer from the public to the private sector. Few scholars have analyzed in-depth the underlying contractual agreements. This is striking in the light of many partnerships that have failed to deliver their promises. Moreover, the legal, often rigid character of contracts is likely to impact on the ability of actors to control urban space. The paper examines the contracts of Dutch transformation trajectories in order to answer the following question: to what extent and why have contractual arrangements changed over time, and how does this evolution reflect the lessons learned by planning professionals? Employing a unique database of development agreements on typical urban transformation projects between the early-1990s and today, complemented by interviews with fifty respondents, the paper describes the evolution of contracts over time. Furthermore, it ties the contracts’ content to project success and failure. It is expected that different times demonstrate diversity in terms of the amount of risk transferred, the spirit of the contracts used, and the attention for detail contract makers have. By discussing these diversities the paper contributes to the debate on the social impact of contracts, particularly on city building, and it demonstrates the need to understand contracts as planning tools just as much as ‘traditional’ instruments of land use control.

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