Instituting post-growth planning: urban-rural-industrial conflicts in the Amsterdam city-region


  • Federico Savini University of Amsterdam




Post-growth planning has been defined as a practice and a new planning regulatory framework that puts care (for land and communities), sufficiency, well-being, and autonomy at its center. Within post-growth planning scholarship, the key argument is that planning needs to indent the consolidated ideology of growth at many levels, from the regulatory frameworks that govern land use and value to the deeper worldviews and ideologies that motivate planning practitioners. Yet, scholars have hardly explained how these values, worldviews, and new regulatory frameworks come about. This is what I define as the problem of instituting post-growth planning, namely the challenge to create public support, political legitimacy, and institutional capacity to produce frameworks, regulations, and procedures for post-growth planning. In my paper, I will argue that this process includes both a deconstruction and a reconstruction of the institutional apparatus of planning, starting from processes of interruption of planned (future) growth and the undoing of established planning rules. This deconstruction is sided by an active practice of reconstructing new social norms and institutions, which is an active socio-political struggle for the careful management of land and its socio-ecological valorization. In the paper, I will conceptualize this double ‘movement’ of post-growth planning and trace the contestation of existing planning frameworks and the institution of new planning norms. To do so I will discuss the example of the Lutkemeerpolder, 100 hectares of land situated at the boundary between the city, countryside, and airport in the South-West fringe of the Amsterdam city-region. Today, the polder is the site where existing planning frameworks are contested by grassroots political movements, motivated by new post-growth policy frameworks (i.e.. the ‘doughnut city’ framework recently approved by the Amsterdam administration). For 20 years, the area has been developed as a key site for the economic growth of the city, a logistical hub providing jobs related to smart logistics and airport traffic. At the same time, the area is recognized as the last fertile soil of the city, with significant ecological, social, and historical value. It has become the struggle of a vibrant, committed, and organized advocacy community that tries to protect it. By tracing the history of this planning project, I will show the dialectic way in which post-growth planning emerges as a real-life alternative to existing (growth-led) planning processes.