The Dutch Approach that makes strong midsize cities

In the autumn of 2017, a working conference was held to update the Dutch National Retail agenda for the period 2018 – 2020. Five focus points were recognized for the near future:

  • The importance of a regional approach and vision. Team play instead of solo activity.
  • Locally shopping areas should develop from “places to buy” into ”places to be”. Municipalities facilitate stakeholders’ discussions as to HOW: How can they be persuaded to work together? How can mutual learning be organized?
  • Property owners and tenants should establish their common denominators.
  • Investments must be made in the skills, knowledge and agility of people working in retail and skills of startup entrepreneurs should  be improved
  • Knowledge, best practices and research should be shared for the benefit of quick learning of all involved.

During the International City Retail Experience 2018 (ICRE2018), a Retailink event hosted by the municipality of Hoogeveen, April  5, you will learn about this Dutch approach first hand from five midsize Dutch cities. They will gladly share their experiences and learnings with you.

Dutch are famous for their ‘Poldering’ process, an incessant effort to keep all parties at the table at all times. An intricate process of ‘give and take’, it’s main goal is to create a win-win situation for all involved.  As a result of this long-term, cooperation can be created.

Want to know more about the Dutch Approach? Enlist for one of the below discussion tables at the ICRE2018 congress, April 5, Hoogeveen.  For more information:

What exactly is “the Dutch Approach”? Five Dutch cities share their experiences at ICRE2018


The table of Gouda: how to attract more visitors and at the same time create more housing?

Gouda is a city with 72.000 inhabitants. It is situated in between the four biggest cities in the Netherlands. Because of its central location, it is a popular place for people to live.  Gouda’s most important asset is its historical city center. The monuments, historical streets and canals and the square market are valuable sights. And Gouda is world famous for its cheese. In the tourist season, there is a cheese market every Thursday.  Gouda attracts more and more visitors every year, up to 700.000 unique visitors last year.

Gouda’s investments in the historical city are focused on both attracting more visitors and at the same time creating more housing for inhabitants in the city center. The challenge is to create a balance in investments to serve both goals.

In recent years Gouda invested in cooperation between all stakeholders involved in creating an attractive city center. In the case of Gouda it resulted in being elected as best city center 2015-2017. Gouda would love to share its ideas and insights with you!


The table of Harderwijk

Harderwijk city is part of the famous historic and international Hanze trade collaboration. Harderwijk is situated on the waterfront and the extensive Veluwe forest. Today shopping is not the only reason for visiting the Harderwijk center. Harderwijk offers a rich mix of retail, hospitality, culture, events and housing.

In Harderwijk stakeholders cooperate in an incessant effort to give visitors a good time, organized in the city marketing office “Heerlijk Harderwijk” (‘wonderful Harderwijk’) and the network organization ‘City center office’. Harderwijk would like to share their ‘city experience’ with you.


The table of Hilversum: changes to stop the downfall of visitors

Hilversum is the Dutch media city, located between Amsterdam and Utrecht. In 2018 Hilversum will have been the center of radio and television broadcasting in the Netherlands for 100 years. Hilversum is also known for its modern architecture (especially Marinus Dudok) and its beautiful surroundings.

The city center of Hilversum has gone through a difficult period. Visitors’ numbers dropped dramatically and the vacancy rate was historically high. Inhabitants shopped and recreated elsewhere. In 2014 the municipality made arrangements with entrepreneurs and real estate owners to make Hilversum a place for inhabitants to be proud off again and for visitors to feel welcome. In the past four years important changes have been made and more is yet to come. Hilversum now has a beautiful market square, food hall and city brewery Mout, the renewed shopping center Hilvertshof and the restored Hotel Gooiland, the first Dutch brand hotel in the Netherlands. Hilversum is glad to share with you how the city was revitalized.


The table of Ede: what is the city center?

The city of Ede (115.000 inhabitants) positioned in the very center of the Netherlands, has an excellent accessibility by means of both highway and railway. Employment and the number of inhabitants are growing fast. With its forests and moors of the Veluwe just around the corner, it is one of the greenest municipalities in the Netherlands. Together with Wageningen, Ede is the engine of the Food Valley region, a cooperation of high tech research centers and production companies of food and food-related products.

While the city of Ede is thriving, the inner city suffers from a number of unfortunate decisions in the past. These have led to a situation where the original city center has almost vanished and the people of Ede don’t feel attracted to it anymore. As a consequence, Ede suffers from negative publicity, low visitors numbers and high vacancy rates. In 2015 a joint effort of stakeholders was launched to “save” the inner city. This programme is currently picking up speed. The main goal is that citizens of Ede will fall in love with their city center once more, be proud of it and visit it more often. Leading principles in this quest are: more green, more food, more ‘local color’, higher quality of public spaces and buildings, better shops and events, which must all eventually lead to positive publicity.
Lout van der Hoeven coordinates this table of Ede to tell you more about Ede’s approach.


The table of Oss: no-nonsense and hard work

Oss (90.000 inhabitants in 23 villages and (65.000) in the city of Oss) is situated in the middle of the Netherlands, near the Maas river. The municipality of Oss has a strong track record in agrifood and Life Sciences as well as logistics. Unilever and its Unox brand originate in Oss. As well as renowned medicine such as insulin and contraceptive products.

The people of Oss are known for their resilient no-nonsense attitude, their mantra of work hard and work smart. In Oss, we create partnerships in business, education and government. In the city center entrepreneurs cooperate with the local government. The results are noticeable in the public space, the facades, center promotion, events and the way we address the challenges of a medium-sized regional city. Oss joint forces and made a long-term vision to reduce retail space and add new functions. The largest retail shop, a large department store, will be demolished next year and become a refreshing new area with less commercial space, more leisure en cultural functions and plenty of housing opportunities. Curious about Oss? Visit the table of Oss on April 5 at

To enlist for this Retailink conference: This conference is in English.

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