Since 1997, the Netherlands Ministry of Housing has taken a new course in its effort to restructure urban neighbourhoods. Compared with traditional urban renewal policy, the new approach is both similar and different. The traditional policy was to ‘build for the neighbourhood’ and was thus mainly concerned with accommodating sitting tenants and providing social housing. The new policy differentiates its approach and targets a diverse urban population, specifically by reducing the stock of social rented housing and expanding the stock of expensive owner-occupied dwellings. This paper reviews the new policy and questions the conventional wisdom of avoiding spatial concentrations of low-income households. Instead, it proposes objectives that seem much more viable: objectives related to strategic housing stock policy, economic vitality, and the sustainability of the city.
As an outcome of urban restructuring, cities may become vibrant, undivided, and sustainable while providing a housing stock for which there is a real demand—four birds with one stone, not a bad, score.