Research Due to the further densification of Dutch cities, the concepts of heritage and space are increasingly linked. The new value approach from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency makes the environmental value of heritage clear. Area developers can thus make a transparent assessment.
“Too often plans are made that, while consistent with political intentions, are unwise in the light of other values or future developments.” Rienk Kuiper, program manager for spatial planning at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), expressed his concerns earlier this year. When densifying the city further, politicians often do not take sufficient account of the vulnerability of water and soil, but also the vulnerability of cultural history and other heritage. According to the researchers, valuable elements are in danger of disappearing as a result.
In the essay Heritage as a living environment value, published last month, PBL explains why a particular building, landscape or neighborhood is seen as a valuable part of the residential environment. What does the ‘environmental value’ of heritage consist of? With the answer, area developers and other professionals can introduce these values into the planning process. Think of drawing up an environmental vision, designing a spatial intervention or overseeing a redevelopment.
It is not disputed that heritage has value, the researchers emphasize. But exactly what that value lies in is more difficult to define. It is not just a matter of taste that differs from person to person. The value of inheritance is also named very differently by these people. These are the ‘environmental values’ of heritage.
The essay introduces the value approach, with which a qualitative picture of heritage can be created. In this way, the social costs and benefits of choosing a particular design can be mapped. Based on these values, stakeholders can make a transparent trade-off between heritage and space.
The value approach consists of . These are important for residents, users and other parties involved in a spatial effort. This creates a high quality image that is practical. It makes visible the differences and similarities between the various scenarios that may be on the table in a decision-making process. “Across the dividing lines between specialties and sectors. A design is not only the end product of a particular choice process, but itself supports the conversation necessary to make that choice.”
According to the researchers, this is important because heritage is usually “not a separate, individual object, but interwoven in people’s living environment and also with the changes therein”. In practice, this means that the value of inheritance is becoming increasingly difficult to determine. “This reinforces the need for and provides a starting point for a good dialogue about a spatial effort.”
Conclusion of the study: The value approach has added value in practice with area development in several ways. The eight values create a frame of reference that provides insight into the diversity of heritage values in the planning process. Practical examples are drawing up an environmental vision, designing a spatial intervention or overseeing a redevelopment. “In this way, the reference framework can contribute to a more integrated planning process, in line with the Environmental Act and NOVI, but also in line with the development in the cultural heritage sector towards a broader approach to the concept of cultural heritage. “
The researchers emphasize the importance of a transparent instrument in a society where citizen involvement in planning in (public) space is increasing. Because the combination of greater involvement and more diversity in society ensures that the diversity of voices increases and that heritage is given different values. The reference frame with the eight living environment values serves as a ‘framework’ for interpreting the different opinions.
Remains a political choice
And the idea is that that stick will remain throughout the planning process. Throughout the planning process there are and the reference framework helps to make transparent “what is weighed against what in relation to living environment values” in all those moments. In this way, the effects of a plan or the effects of different variants within the same plan can also be visualized. “This can also form a starting point for mapping the social costs and benefits of choosing a particular design. But the decision on how to strike the balance remains a political choice. The value approach can help describe this choice and make it transparent.”