Erwin van der Krabben

Professor of Planning and Property Development, Radboud University (NL)
Honorary professor of Planning and Real Estate Development, Hong Kong University (HK)

Keynote presentation abstract:

To/Thu 22.4. klo 10:00-11:00

Never waste a good housing crisis:

How the Dutch try to restore their “planner’s paradise” and Hong Kong decides on a no-nonsense technology-driven way out

The Netherlands faces a severe housing crisis, with unsustainable increases in housing prices year after year, a housing market becoming more and more unaffordable particularly for first-time buyers and tenants, and the annual construction of new houses substantially lagging behind increasing demand. The current estimation is that for the next ten years one million new homes must be built, to meet with expected demand (on a total of around 7.8 million in 2021). In a very different institutional context, Hong Kong is facing similar housing market problems, with an estimated demand for half a million new homes in the coming years. With the comparison of the approaches to the housing market problems in the Netherlands and Hong Kong I hope to offer a perspective on the (limitations to) the effectiveness of spatial planning in dealing with housing markets.

The housing crisis in the Netherlands has led to the reopening of a (political) debate on the role of the national government in spatial planning. While the Netherlands may still have some international reputation of a “planner’s paradise”, reality is very different. For 20 years, spatial planning has been almost fully decentralized, with the ministry of spatial planning cancelled since then and no ministerial responsibility for spatial planning anymore. However, the current housing crisis has brought national responsibility for planning and housing back on the political agenda, declaring local and regional governments incapable of solving the problems. This will probably lead to the (temporary) installment of a ministry for spatial planning and housing by the new coalition later this year, for the first time in twenty years’ time. I will argue in my presentation, however, that the new minister should not expect to arrive in a planner’s paradise and may be feared to lack the planning power to get the country out of the housing crisis.

After an intensive public consultation process on how to supply more land to build new homes, Hong Kong has decided on a very different, technology-driven strategy that must lead to a more sustainable and affordable housing market. With a massive land-reclamation project, it will build an artificial island (Lantau Tomorrow) that will provide sufficient land to build more than half of the new homes needed. Commentators cannot agree: the artificial island may be a silver bullet for Hong Kong’s housing market problems, or will appear to be a very costly white elephant.


Erwin van der Krabben was in 2010 appointed as Professor of Planning and Property Development in the Department of Planning (Radboud University). From 2011 to 2018 he also held a (0.2) position as a Professor of Real Estate in the School of the Built Environment (University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland). From 2018 he is a visiting professor to Hong Kong University (HK). A substantial part of his recent work concentrates on land management policies, financial instruments and value capturing related to urban regeneration projects and the financing of public infrastructure, both in a Dutch context and internationally. At the moment, he works on several research projects focusing on innovative governance and finance solutions for urban development and transit oriented development. Internationally, he works and has worked in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, South-Korea, Taiwan, Europe, the United States and Brazil and is frequently involved in international research.

Professionally, Erwin van der Krabben regularly advices to local, regional and national authorities in the field of land policy, value capturing and transit oriented developments and is frequently invited to address both national and international audiences (industry and government) on topics like value capturing and transit oriented developments.

Paneeli / Panel

Ilmiöpohjaisuus kaupunkitutkimuksessa-paneeli

Pe/Fri 23.4. klo 11:45-12:45

Paneelin moderaattori, Samuli Laita, Sitra.


Kaisa Kosonen; Ilmasto- ja energia-asiantuntija , Greenpeace.

Raine Mäntysalo; Maankäytön professori, Aalto yliopisto.

Aale Luusua; Tekniikan tohtori, Oulun yliopisto.

Ari Koivumäki, Yliopettaja, Tampereen Ammattikorkeakoulu.