The Dutch Environment and Planning Act enters into force in 2021. All the rules on the physical living environment that are currently still fragmented in environmental law, such as construction, the environment, water management, spatial planning, preservation of monuments and nature, will soon brought together under one law and in four decrees. This reduction in rules should improve the quality of the living environment, lead to greater freedom of choice for entrepreneurs, shorter decision-making procedures and lower research costs, while also accelerating the realisation of projects.
With the arrival of the Environment and Planning Act, zoning plans will be replaced by environmental plans. As a result, municipalities will be able to create flexibility and enable organic area development. With flexible zoning within certain predetermined parameters, for example.
Municipalities can already prepare for the arrival of the Environment and Planning Act and the opportunities it will create. Like the thinking behind the Dutch Crisis and Recovery Act, zoning plans under the Environment and Planning Act can be drawn up with a ‘wider scope’ and thus utilise additional advantages. Moreover, many authorities are currently in the process of drawing up an environmental vision, which will serve as a framework for drawing up an environmental plan (municipalities) or an environmental ordinance (provinces).
This zoning plan ‘new style’ requires a different way of thinking. The key aim is to create flexibility. Authorities can simply explain what they do not want instead of specifying what they do want. The details are open and can be left to the market.
The question of how to write a plan that already encompasses the concept behind the Environment and Planning Act – and therefore benefits from the advantages – can be answered with an increasing amount of certainty. Our Environmental Law team advises municipalities and initiators in the field of area development on a daily basis. This enables us to incorporate the desired flexibility into a plan while ensuring that local residents can be certain that the quality of the physical living environment will not be endangered. For a number of municipalities, we are assisting in the development of zoning plans with a broader scope - the precursors of the environmental plans under the Environment and Planning Act.