An evaluation of an alternative provincial approach to the spatial (re) development process in the participation society : evaluating the province of Noord-Brabant programme, ‘Mijn Mooi Brabant’ – R.P. Mulder

Society is changing and this bottom-up process forces the government to adapt. Reinforced by the inflexibility of the large organisation a government is, it struggles to do so and fulfil the demand of the public. That demand is facilitates initiatives from the public that act on the governmental domain, on behalf of the public and their collective interests. The province is involved in the first three steps of the process of spatial (re), exploration, planning and realisation. The fact that the province is an equal actor in a process network is new for a province. Networks are dynamic and are marked by interdependencies. The Mijn Mooi Brabant programme is operating in those networks with a, for the province, alternative approach. Focusing on enhancing initiatives, provided by the partners of the province, in order to maximise their result. This research shows that the provincial organisation, but more importantly the governmental organisational structure are not very suitable for the public participation process. Law and regulations are the biggest hurdle, however the majority protect the core values of the Dutch democracy, and are not likely and advisable to change fast. In order to deal with the situation the province should focus on the exploration and planning phases of the spatial (re)development process, where their network and knowledge inputs are most effective and they are an equal player in the network. This leads to a shorter lead-time of the initiatives and allows the province to take on initiatives throughout the tenure and be more adapted to the public agenda. Further, the province should choose initiatives critically. If the province wants to be close to the public, chose public initiatives. Those public initiatives even benefit the most from this approach, due to their limited of experience, knowledge, and funds. Further, the province should evaluate on the exploration and planning phases, and strive for a good network process instead a finished physical product. Use the budget to facilitated the process, maintain the network, and hire experts. Get rid of the traditional subsidies, which focus on the wrong achievements and cause most of the bureaucracy.

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