Residents of the Bijlmer designed the zoning plan for their neighborhood themselves, with space for 500 extra homes

The municipality of Amsterdam came up with a new zoning plan for the K-neighbourhood in the Bijlmer. But residents revolted. The plan didn’t suit their needs, so they went on a ‘participation strike’.

When it turned out that the residents no longer wanted to participate in the participation process for this zoning plan, the municipality was shocked. She decided to remove all officials from the project and got back to work. Together with the inhabitants. Plans were drawn up that suited the needs of the inhabitants. For example, 500 more homes than were included in the first zoning plan.


“A lot of people in my neighborhood are illiterate,” says Mike Brandjes. He is one of the initiators of Hart voor de K-buurt. That is the committee that worked on the plans for the neighborhood after the participation strike. “People with a migration background hardly participate in those talking sessions and participation evenings. The municipality does not know how to reach them.”

Civil servant Harry Wien still remembers the participation strike well. “Homes were needed in the Bijlmer, so I presented a zoning plan. But suddenly the residents protested. I then renewed my entire team and started an experiment in which we as a municipality help to convert the residents’ plans into the new ones. destination for the neighborhood.”

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More homes

The collaboration did not go smoothly: Harry Wien and the municipality on the one hand, and Mike Brandjes and the neighborhood on the other, even followed a kind of therapy sessions to get into a good conversation with each other again. And the result does not lie.

Many more homes are being built than the municipality initially proposed. At the same time, the squares to which the neighborhood is attached will continue to exist. “The starter homes that are being added for young people are not only a home start, but also a life start. That is what the young people in this area need,” says Brandjes. He sees that the young people from Amsterdam Zuidoost experience in this way that there is a place for them.

Cuckoo Clock Participation

Researcher Krista van Mourik of Movisie recognizes that little is done with the input of residents. She followed the developments in the K-neighbourhood. “With resident participation, residents are allowed to think along, but co-deciding is a different story.”

Van Mourik sees a kind of ‘power-free participation’. “I call it ‘cuckoo clock participation’. The municipal system comes up with all kinds of plans, then the cuckoo comes out for a moment and the citizen can join in the conversation. Then the cuckoo goes back to the clock quickly and the plans are all completed. idea of ​​what is happening and what is being done with their advice.”

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Better plan, also according to official

What happened in the K-neighborhood may therefore be applied in more places according to Van Mourik. In that case, much more is thought of based on the needs of the people who live there.

The fact that the roles were reversed in Amsterdam, where the municipality helped residents realize their plans, instead of letting residents know what was going to happen to their neighbourhood, is therefore an example for Van Mourik.

Barbecue with your car

For example, the municipality could never have imagined that it is important for the inhabitants of the Bijlmer that there is a place where you can barbecue with your car. The residents of the K neighborhood have been doing this for years, but new residents of the neighborhood are complaining about it.

Now a special square has been designated where that is possible. Civil servant Harry Wien is ultimately very satisfied with the result. “I think it turned out better than the plan I initially proposed.”

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