News - June 15, 2010

How Wageningen sees Petten in the future

First year students of the Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning programme presented their future designs for the coastal village of Petten last week. Radical ideas get the province thinking.

Assigned by the Province of North Holland and the Municipality of Zijpe, the students spoke to inhabitants, entrepreneurs, school children and tourists in the village to find out what they would like to see changed and what retained.
Village square
The 45 students then developed four impressions for the village: Green and Healthy, Petten Outdoors, Sustainable Energy and Regional Scale. Gerda Dinkelman, involved in the project for the Province of North Holland, is pleasantly surprised by the future designs. 'The students have come up with a number of radical ideas', Dinkelman says. 'In the Green and Healthy design, they propose to re-site the village square. Their argument is: if the accessibility of the village square cannot be improved, why shouldn't it be relocated? This may not be a very practical idea, but it gets you thinking about other options.'
Besides such daring ideas, the students also offered practical advice. 'They show what the municipality can do in the near future. While all sorts of plans have long been drawn up for the village, the inhabitants feel that something should really be done now. Small but visible changes would show that the municipality is concerned about the quality of life in the village. Despite the economic crisis, there's no need to let energy drain away', adds Dinkelman.
The project was in fact sparked off by the Hondsbossche and Pettemer dike section at Petten, a weak spot in the sea defence system. 'With the strengthening of the dike, the province also wants to stimulate the region, which has an ageing and shrinking population, at the same time', says lecturer and supervisor Raoul Beunen. 'We have looked into what this stimulation could be.'
Dinkelman finds the idea of having an extreme sport centre well thought out. 'The inhabitants of Petten aren't particularly interested in mass tourism at the coast. They want peaceful tourists who turn up because of the nature.' The Sustainable Energy design, which links biomass, agriculture and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands in Petten, also got the thumbs up during the presentation.
Dinkelman is amazed by the findings of the Wageningen students. 'They arrived empty-handed in Petten, but managed to process a lot of information in a very short period of time. So it works really well to let students contact the local population.' The municipality and entrepreneurs in the village are keen to have the designs developed further by the students. 'It's probable that several recommendations will even be taken up very soon', says Beunen. 'After the summer holidays, we will get the chance to present the results again, but then to all the inhabitants of the village.'