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City Limits: A Dated Phenomenon

Jeroen Lokerse • 08/10/2019

Historical city limits are outdated

Many of the urgent challenges that our country faces, such as urban densification, the energy transition but also the housing challenge, are being tackled at city level. Yet it does not take much thought to understand that these issues go far beyond the historical city limits - and even the provincial and national borders. Perhaps this domination of the city stems from the fact that developments are going the fastest in cities and that is why urgency is felt most there? But it is not workable and future-oriented in a society that is moving towards a more sustainable living environment.

A new playing field

In the years ahead, wealth creation, wealth distribution and economic growth will focus on a limited number of metropolitan regions in the world. That playing field for companies and industries worldwide is determined by the ecosystems that can be developed there: places where the best cooperation partners, the best knowledge institutions with the best economic production structure can be developed with optimum access to the labor market. A new economic order that requires great ambitions, but where polarization is lurking on all fronts. To counter that, we must now ensure that we will also be relevant later. Then we must now invest in what it is all about.

That means that cities and provinces can no longer "maintain a little cooperation and a little competition" among themselves. Our current city and provincial boundaries and our thinking about mobility must make way for a new facilitating system that connects government, politics, business and science. A system of functional cities and urban areas within which living, working, traffic flows, CO2 emissions, tourism, training and infrastructure are optimally coordinated. With a board that joins forces and combats polarization in an integral way and gives a sustainable interpretation to urban design, infrastructure and prosperity.

One city, one system

The agglomeration benefits of the Randstad, and therefore the Netherlands, have been underexposed in our spatial structure for far too long. We do not sufficiently benefit from the advantages of a large common labor market, more innovative power and more facilities at lower costs. The larger Randstad region - from Arnhem, Almere, Rijnmond to Eindhoven - offers a unique opportunity compared to world cities such as London and Paris: urban living and suburban living at prices that are unthinkable for residents of London, Paris or, for example, Toronto. If we make sure that the larger Randstad becomes one economic, interconnected, region of functional urban centers, then a new city - while preserving the existing unique historical centers - is created that counteracts polarization and ensures future-proof, ecologically responsible prosperity and economic growth. A city that is good for everyone, even if you do not live or work there. Because it is the agglomeration advantages of that city that ensure that the so-called "hinterland" also benefits from the prosperity that this will bring. And shall we just call that city Amsterdam? Internationally the strongest brand with a fantastic reputation?

This article is the latest in a series of three articles in which Jeroen Lokerse discusses the changing role and function of real estate due to the structurally changing world and the opportunities that this offers to create sustainable (corporate) value for society and for clients. Read more about Cushman & Wakefield's vision on urban densification and a new urban system in "Sweet Spot Randstad". Download the 'Sweet Spot Randstad' report to find out more.

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