Unsolicited & Welcome

An inquiry into the desirability and feasibility of Unsolicited Proposals in Dutch urban area development

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Traditionally, municipalities in the Netherlands have been taking a dominant and leading role in the urban area development. Currently, the municipalities pursue more often a facilitating and passive role, and prefer to utilize market resources and capabilities. The lack of municipal resources, stacking complexity of the objectives and insufficient municipal capacity, makes the shift both preferable and necessary. Unsolicited proposals are emerging along this shift to more market and networked practices. These informal proposals are original, SMART, feasible, complete, value-adding plans for exclusively municipal lands that aim to get the land directly awarded. The creativeness and smaller reliance on municipal resources makes the proposals attractive for municipalities. However, the societal desirability and legal feasibility of this instrument are ambiguous as little about the phenomenon is documented and the Didam-judgement from late 2021 bars the direct award of land.

This research aims to investigate whether the instrument is still available for Dutch municipalities and how municipalities may improve their management of these proposals. A literature study, 2 case study projects and an expert panel have covered the topics of unsolicited proposals, urban area management, public values and the legislative context. These research methods and topics have been the main components for the delivery of a process model to improve the municipal management.

The process model entails a phased model of preparatory policy design stage by the municipality to steer the market and set out the legal basis for the Didam selection procedure. The latter is complied with through a first-come first-serve open selection procedure which meets the Didam-criteria of being measurable, objective and reasonable. The process continues with a parallel Ambitioning phase by the municipality and a Design iteration phase of the private party, during which communication and process management are important. Follow up by a feasibility and elaboration phase the collaboration and project management becomes more important. Concludingly, Unsolicited proposals are still feasible and through proper employment of all management tools and activities desirable outcomes can be achieved.