Landscapes increasingly resemble each other as a result of the new-build  holiday parks, highways and residential areas. This causes an increased pressure on the quality of the spatial structure. Current regional planning culture in the Netherlands has no solution to this problem.This study is a search for a regional planning method that will reinforce the spatial quality and uniqueness of regions in northeastern Netherlands (consisting of the Hondsrug, the Veenkolonieën and Westerwolde).

In times that the population of this area is shrinking, the spatial quality needs to be guaranteed. Shrinkage will most likely occure in this area and can’t be ignored. Shrink extends over many developments, such as demographics, facilities, economics, etc.

The core of this research is the spatial analysis. By analyzing topographical material, spatial processes and qualities of the region are found. The spatial qualities are translated into thirteen settlement typologies. The spatial structure of each village in this research originates from one of these settlement typologies.

Development Processes

The development process has great influence on the occurrence of the final spatial structure. This development process consists of a sequence of events as a result of social trends and geographical features. Many settlements are formed by a sequence of events over a long period of time. These events often results in unique spatial characteristics.

The development processes are different for each region. For example: there is a difference between areas that are the result of unplanned processes and areas that are developed according a pre-made plan. Unplanned structures are more flexible.

Intermediat zones

When the differences between zones are considered, there appear to exist great contrasts. There are some "pure" regions were just one social and cultural force prevailes. These regions are often connected with 'intermediate zones'. These are areas that are developed with social / cultural influences from several surrounding regions. This new combination of influences results in a new region with unique characteristics.

In the project-area the intermediate zones have the biggest population shrinkage. In intermediate zones the identity appears to be hidden. Development of those regions can enhance the identity of the region.

Scenario

In the last chapter, the spatial research is applied in an scenario: The transformation of intermediate zone 'East Stadskanaal'  to a Consumption-Landscape. A transformation that will improve the economical diversity of the region. Here it is shown how knowledge of the spatial structure can be applied in an area-specific manner to shape future developments.

This is done by an inventarisation of spatial area characteristics. The flexibility of area characteristics will be used to shape small-scale developments. In addition: existing area characteristics will provide a source of inspiration for new housing initiatives.

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