City of Tilburg Area Report

The City of Tilburg is situated in the southern part of the Netherlands. With more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands. Tilburg was dominated by the textile industry until the 1960s, but it has now developed into a modern (industrial) city with the accompanying cultural and educational facilities. People of approximately 125 different nationalities live and work together in the city and two of its surrounding villages (Berkel-Enschot and Udenhout).

Tilburg has an important economic influence on the region with almost 8,000 (international) businesses, 1,100 hectares of industrial land and 460,000 square metres of office space.

Tilburg is still growing: population growth between 1997 and 2005 was 8.8% (average growth in the Netherlands is 4%). Tilburg chose to use two relatively small brownfield sites to test and demonstrate good practice methodologies developed through the REVIT project: one of the sites is Volt/Phoenix, which is located near the city centre; the other is Dirigentenlaan, located in the North of Tilburg. Despite their relatively small sizes (together approximately 15 hectares), a complex set of social, economic and environmental factors make them interesting sites that are ideal for developing and testing new processes and techniques. Tilburg is committed to the three main topics of REVIT: namely stakeholder engagement, Public Private Partnerships (PPP), and sustainable brownfield regeneration. However, the demonstration projects focus particularly on PPPs and sustainability. Stakeholder engagement processes are well-developed in this city and are already incorporated into Tilburg’s administration functions, being widely expected for new development proposals.

Stakeholder Engagement

In Tilburg, an area-specific working strategy is used to manage stakeholder engagement. This is based on four departments being responsible for their own, different, parts of the city. Staff within these teams deal with the aspirations and needs of the community, organisations and companies. This is undertaken within the boundaries of city policy. Professional staff actively seek joint solutions in the development and supervision of their respective areas. The advantage of this working method is that staff have ongoing stakeholder networks, from which ”up to date“ information is used to support compatible development proposals. In addition, Tilburg has a special public participation regulation.

This regulation states that the public concerned have the right to participate in every area of municipal policy. When new (spatial) plans are being developed, the mayor and aldermen decide which members of the public are likely to be affected and may therefore be invited to participate.

On this basis, stakeholders are invited to participate if they will, or are likely to be affected by the proposed development, or if they have an interest in it. Where stakeholders are represented by organisations, the mayor and aldermen take an active role to work with these organisations to agree the most appropriate engagement procedures and processes. The mayor and aldermen must provide information to invited stakeholders insuch a way that they are able to understand the proposals and the procedures for engagement. The stakeholders concerned are given the opportunity to formulate supplementary issues, which are then considered for inclusion. A communication plan is developed and agreed for the planning of larger brownfield regeneration projects. This plan details how communication should take place throughout the project. At least every three months the communication plan is reviewed and, depending on the project plan, may be revised to take account of new issues. This plan defines the different target groups, the communication strategy, the internal and external communication clients and the different ways of communicating. The communication plan also provides a detailed agenda about when, where and with whom the communication should take place. This communication plan is supplementary to the official public participation regulation.