Town Planning Review

Needham, Barrie, Koenders, Patrick and Kruijt, Bert, "The Netherlands" (Book Review)

Town Planning Review (1995), 66, (3), 329


BOOK REVIEWS dimension, was the lack of tables, diagrams and maps. ~n 206 pages there is just one table. There appears to . e a built-in assumption that readers would have an Ultimate knowledge of the geography of Europe and each of the case study cities. A map of the location of ~ese cities within their European context could have then extremely useful. Furthermore, within each of b e chapters, much emphasis was placed upon the rO~d planning strategy and the role of specific ~ro)ects. A simple schematic map would have greatly elped the reader's understanding of the spatial impliIUUons ofurban policy upon the city under discussion. Ustrative material communicates messages very effee.tively and it is a pity that the authors did not consIder this issue more fully. 20Doespite these shortcomings, European Cities towards odoes provide an excellent and enjoyable summary ~ urban policy throughout Europe and deserves to be Ide~y. read. Despite the great heterogeneity between :ehlues, what is striking is the similarities observed !hit e approaches of their urban policy makers. Does e s represent another step on the road to closer ticonomic and political harmonisation with the potenpal for urban policy mechanisms and initiatives to be rOmoted explicitly at the European scale? DAVE SHAw University of Liverpool EUropean Land and Property Market Series, ~armut Dietrich, Richard H. Williams and Barry ood (eds), London, UCL Press: The Nether~nd~, Barrie Needham, Patrick Koenders and Bert ruI)t, 1993, xv + 228 pp., £38.00; Germany, ~armut Dietrich, Egbert Dransfield and Winrich Aofi, 1993, xii + 275pp., £40.00; France, Rodrigo £:osta and Vincent Renard, 1993, xix + 166 pp., .~/,oo; The UK, Richard H. Williams and Barry ood, 1994, xii + 275 pp., £40.00 ~f 1991 the German Federal Government commis- tn~nkd S~parate reports on urban land and property In r ets In five EC countries: the Netherlands, Ger- coan~~ France, the UK and Italy. The research was un~ Inated at the University of Dortmund, but Se ertaken by academic teams in each country. Sub- up~UentlY, the first four reports have been revised and PUbUted .forpUblication as a book series by UCL Press. and CationIS awaited both of the fifth volume on Italy \ralu of a separately prepared text on Sweden. This OUt able series of books represents early tangible EuiUt from PRODEST EUROPE, the consortium of °Pean universities involved in property develop- Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press. 331 ment and planning studies, to which all the national teams belong . Collaborative work of this type, in which all participants follow a common framework in investigating their respective countries, can create significant challenges. In this case, although the structure adopted seems designed to highlight national similarities, an alternative approach devised to pinpoint national differences or the distinctive national characteristics might have proved easier to apply and perhaps more enlightening. Indeed, the framework chosen for this series appears unduly restrictive, creating unnecessary repetition and resulting in a loss of focus. For instance, the Dutch text requires entirely separate treatment of land and property and a similar structure is thus imposed on the other three books, making them follow suit. Moreover, mention is made in each book of topics irrelevant to the particular country, if only to deny their existence. Readers of the UK text are thus presented with the statement that 'there is in the UK no cadastral survey, and no interest shown in creating one' (p. 86), but no explanation of the nature of a land cadastre or any evaluation of its possible costs and benefits in a British context is offered. The transfer of research material from a factual report written for specific clients to a discursive commentary suitable for a wider audience presents a related and more substantive publication challenge. Although it would have been welcome to have had more material presented in graphs and diagrams than in tables, each book certainly sets out basic facts and figures well. Explanation of the legal and policy contexts for each national land and property market is sound, with perhaps the clearest outline given by the Dutch team, who seek to explain their planning system not from an official standpoint but from the perspective of the developer. Although the UK text is intended to cover the country as a whole, its treatment of the Scottish system is at best peripheral. It might have been better to delete the limited references to Scotland, and entitle the book England and Wales (or merely England!). The extent to which the series moves beyond basic factual reporting to provide a considered evaluation of the distinctive characteristics of each national market is limited. The artificial structure relegates this task primarily to the final chapter of each book, but even this opportunity is underplayed by the German and particularly the French text. The best final evaluation comes in the British version. The potential contribution of the series to critical market analysis is further weakened by the sparse references each book makes to earlier research. Thus, the UK text presents us with the bald statement that 'very little is known

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Author details

Adams, David