Brabant, The Netherlands

Noord-Brabant, also known as simply Brabant, is a province in southern Holland bordering Belgium to the south and Germany to the east. In 2003, Brabant and four other Dutch provinces participated in a form of TDR called Space for Space as part of a larger effort to reduce the harmful emissions associated with pig farming. This profile focuses on Brabant because it was featured in an English- language study (Janssen-Janssen, Spaans and van der Veen, 2008).

The Space for Space program resulted from European Union guidelines for reduced phosphate and nitrate emissions which in turn prompted the Dutch government to buy emission rights from pig farmers. To meet the nitrate emission deadline, the vacant pig stables had to be demolished by the end of 2003. A TDR program known as Space for Space was created to motivate farmers to also demolish their vacant pig stables to comply with the new emission guidelines, to remove these unsightly and obsolete structures from the countryside and also to eliminate the temptation to convert these stables to unwanted activities such as car dealerships and storage sites.

In Brabant, the entire countryside serves as the sending area. Participating land owners who demolish their vacant stables are granted permits to build expensive housing in the receiving areas described below. Alternatively, owners can be compensated in cash by a revolving fund operated by a public-private TDR bank consisting of developers, individuals, financial institutions and Brabant province. This bank is known as the Space for Space Development Company and goes by the initials ORR. In order to meet the EU deadline, this bank compensated farmers for demolishing vacant stables by the send of 2003 and held the permits for eventual sale to developers.

Developers who buy permits are allowed to build expensive houses on large parcels; the national government capped this bonus at 6,500 units. In Brabant, receiving sites can be formed 1) within existing urban areas, 2) at a village fringe and 3) within an urban cluster in a rural area. While Brabant was launching this program, it also relaxed strict building policies, which had the effect of lowering demand for the Space-for-Space bonus units according to some observers.  Economic recession also reduced demand for expensive parcels and made it difficult to sell the permits for desirable prices. As a result, as of 2008, the ORR had not been fully repaid for compensating farmers for stable demolitions dating back to 2003. In 2008, the shortfall was being absorbed by the province in order to maintain good relations between the public and private members of the bank.

Janssen-Janssen, L., Spaans, M., & Van der Veen, M. (2008b) The Netherlands: experiments with non-financial compensation instruments in planning practice, in Janssen-Janssen, L., Spaans, M., & Van der Veen, M. (ed.) New Instruments in Spatial Planning: An International Perspective on Non-Financial Compensation. Amsterdam: IOS Press.