Chapter 11:       The Neighborhood Study

 

 

 

 

 

I)        Introduction

 

 

The Nest! feasibility study was targeted at the municipality of Arnhem with special focus given to the Vinex town extension location Schuytgraaf. Though the implementation scenarios are developed for four locations in Arnhem relating to the municipality’s vision 2015 (Chapter 13), the neighborhood study presented in this chapter is applied and developed most extensively to the case of Schuytgraaf.[88] In this chapter we explore how a temporary settlement can fit in with the surrounding communities. We develop this argument for the Schuytgraaf case.

 

Schuytgraaf is surrounded by the neighboring Arnhem communities Elderveld, De Laar and the village Driel, belonging to a neighboring municipality. Each of these communities has a different profile, but they do have in common a rather reserved and negative attitude towards the Vinex town extension neighborhood to be developed next-door. Many fear that they will not only loose the nice open area nearby, but that the new neighborhood will get its services at the expense of their own.

 

Thirty years ago these Arnhem neighborhoods were the nicest and newest parts of town, attracting young families. Today they show signs of their age and a lack of maintenance. More and more people, because of age, need care facilities. Physically, the neighborhoods surrounding Schuytgraaf are not up to date any more and some also show first signs of social decline. In one or two decades these areas might face similar social problems as the neighborhoods from the fifties and sixties have now.

 

A large part of the population in Elderveld lives in rented apartments and houses. Provisions for childcare and eldercare are good. Citizens are quite active in Elderveld and there are a number of volunteers who have developed neighborhood services for the elderly population.

 

De Laar has a different atmosphere. The major part of the population lives in owner occupied houses. De Laar has less services and provisions than Elderveld. Residents are less active in the community and keep more to themselves. The astute identification as a middle class house owner community is developed somewhat as defence against the perceived discrimination of Arnhem South, to which these communities belong.

 

Driel is a small village with strong continuity and social cohesion. People live there since generations and even the young people want to stay in the community. Almost everyone belongs to at least one local association.

 

The following neighborhood study describes the neighborhoods surrounding Schuytgraaf under the aspects of social composition of inhabitants, existing assets and facilities, social climate, issues and concerns, service gaps as well as the opinions and attitudes towards Schuytgraaf. Conclusions are drawn in regard to possible challenges for Schuytgraaf and how they can be addressed and in regard to how the neighboring communities can be integrated into the social process.

 

Though the neighborhood study presented in this chapter examines a local case, the experience described is global. People fear change. Developments of new settlements need to be accompanied by socially integrative measures and strategies, involving the surrounding communities. The temporary settlement is well equipped for this task.

 

 

 

II)      Elderveld

 

 

Facts and Figures

 

Elderveld was built in the early seventies. The neighborhood was planned with much space for public green and waterways. In the beginning a large number of young families settled in Elderveld, although the level of services was low. It took a few years before there was a neighborhood supermarket and a reasonable number of busses stopping there.

 

Meanwhile Elderveld has a population of 10 028 people. 32% are under 25 and 24% are over 55 years. The average persons per household is 2,33. 39% of the households include children. 6% of the population are single parents. 3% of the Elderveld residents are unemployed and 3,3 % live from social welfare. 22% of the population of Elderveld are immigrants. The mean income pro year is €23 400 which is slightly above the average income in Arnhem. At the last local elections the local Populist Party Zuid Centraal, which fights the perceived neglect of the Southern part of Arnhem, received the most votes. 61% of the dwellings are rented, 39% are owned. [89]

 

The community has 3 general practitioners, 3 dentists, 4 physiotherapists and a pharmacy. Besides a care office, a medical dispensary and a home for seniors, there are also two special housing units for mentally disabled.

Elderveld has 3 primary schools, a public school, a Roman Catholic school and a Protestant school. All three schools also harbor a kindergarten. In addition the community runs 3 toddler groups as well as 6 daycare centers that also offer after-school care. Elderveld has a youth centre, a boy scout club and a holiday program for children during summer holidays. Twice a week a mobile library targeted at youth stops at two different locations in the district.

 

There are several sport and play facilities in the district: the centrally located playground Spelderveld, several small playgrounds in the residential areas, the sports hall Elderveld, sports park Elderveld, a squash centre and the sports centre SHK. These locations harbor a wide range of sports clubs including badminton, checkers, gymnastics, handball, fishing, hockey, basketball, rugby, chess, squash, table tennis, tennis, football and volleyball. The Salvation Army and de Kandelaar (a center for religious ceremonies and celebrations) have buildings in the community. Elderveld also has a neighborhood center and a community garden, as well as a service center for seniors. There are two local policemen who have their consulting hours once a week.

 

The district association organizes events in Elderveld and offers adult education programs as well as courses targeted at the youth, for example break-dance or circus acts. The district center offers physical space for neighborhood events. There is also a district platform, which is a consultation body composed of several local groups. Elderveld has a large potential of volunteers. Supply and demand are co-ordinated by the volunteers agency run by the chairman of the district association.

 

Social contacts and networks in the neighborhood are mainly built via the kindergartens and primary schools, via the many sport associations in the community or by volunteer work There are many families in Elderveld who live there since the beginning, whose children grew up together. In the parts of the community where inhabitants have lived for a longer period of time, there is more contact than in the parts where there is more fluctuation.

 

Elderveld can be reached by 3 main roads and has 2 bus connections with the city centre of Arnhem.

 

The shopping centre Elderhof is known as the heart of Elderveld, but is in urgent need of renovation. Generally during the last years there has been a decline of facilities. The bank is already gone, the post office is gone, the shopping center that is left, is under economic pressure. 5 of the 12 shops have closed down and the empty spaces have not been filled again. Just recently the district association has moved into one of the vacated shops. Elderhof currently consists of two supermarkets, a bakery, a butcher shop, a florist, a hairdresser, a boutique, a drugstore, a small bookshop with a small post office, a shop for household goods, an animal shop, a Chinese restaurant with a take-away, and a café with a cafeteria. There is a weekly market every Tuesday morning on one of the surrounding parking lots. The municipality plans to renovate the shopping centre Elderhof.

 

The local newspaper Elderveld Nieuws is issued a minimum of 6 times a year and is printed in 4500 copies. The local website is a further source of local information and communication.

 

 

Issues and Concerns

 

Inhabitants of Elderveld are content with the spaciousness of their neighborhood and that there is so much green. On the other hand the parks have become a burden because of the poor maintenance by the municipality. Poor maintenance is a big issue in the community, also concerning housing. A questionnaire distributed as part of an interactive municipal program to improve public space revealed that this is one of the top priorities, together with the renovation of the shopping centre Elderhof. Elderveld residents very much want the heart of their district to be renovated. Elderhof is of great importance for the inhabitants, especially for the many elderly people. A large number of signatures have been collected in the neighborhood, urging the municipality to renovate the shopping center, since for the rather large group of elderly people and for the disabled living in Elderveld, who are less mobile, it is very important to have sufficient shopping facilities in the neighborhood. Some people also think that specific shops are missing at the present shopping centre (green grocer, bicycle repairman/bicycle shop, discount supermarket) and hope that this may change with the planned renovation.

 

Other issues include the wish for more playgrounds, the lack of facilities for the migrant population, safety, support for resident initiatives and a work of art for the neighborhood.

 

Things that are most missed in Elderveld by the population include a discount supermarket, targeted facilities and events for youth and in general more art and cultural opportunities. Despite the local youth center, many inhabitants see the youth as a nuisance on the streets and there is a call for more police to increase the safety in the district. Elderveld has received the status “deprived area” and has been assigned two local police officers and a higher budget because of this status.

 

 

Relationship to Schuytgraaf

 

A protest group was founded against the fact that there only will be one road leading to Schuytgraaf. All the traffic from the already existing districts of Elderveld and de Laar make use of this road, but the inhabitants of Schuytgraaf will be completely dependent on it. Many people believe that this one road is not enough for all inhabitants to use on a daily basis, and problems of noise, disturbance and congestion are anticipated. However, there are no other options. The protest movement was able to delay the building of Schuytgraaf for about 10 years but recently lost its case in the Supreme Court.

On the whole the inhabitants of Elderveld are not happy with the coming of the new neighborhood. In addition to the anticipated traffic jams they are afraid that when Elderveld inhabitants move to Schuytgraaf, people from the renovation districts in Arnhem, which are considered “problem neighborhoods” and “hard to integrate” will move in, importing their problems (youth, unemployment, poverty, criminality) to Elderveld. There is a general concern that Elderveld can become the “dumping grounds” for dislocated residents of other districts in Arnhem that are being demolished and redeveloped.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Elderveld has a considerable potential of volunteers willing to invest time and services for others, coordinated by a central voluntary referral agency. Elderveld (like De Laar) is a dormitory neighborhood, but despite of this, people are willing to think about their neighborhood and invest time in their community.

Although the general attitude to the new neighborhood Schuytgraaf is rather skeptical, this potential of volunteer energy and involvement could be linked in, if the image of Schuytgraaf over time develops more positively and if Schuytgraaf offers attractive elements to its neighboring communities.

 

 

 

III)     De Laar

 

 

Facts and Figures

 

De Laar was built in the late seventies. When it was first built it attracted many families with children, although services for children were not in place yet. The first children who lived in de Laar were forced to go to the schools in Elderveld. It was not till later that the three De Laar schools were opened. The same goes for the kindergartens.

 

De Laar[90] currently has 13 435 inhabitants. The population of De Laar is younger than the population of Elderveld. 35% of the population is younger than 25, and 12% are above 55 years of age. 23% of the residents of De Laar are immigrants. 43% of the households include children. 8% of the populations are single parents. The average persons per household is 2,38%. The percentage of owner occupied dwellings is slightly higher than in Elderveld (44% versus 56% rented dwellings). The number of registered unemployed in De Laar is 4% and 3,8% live from social welfare. The mean yearly income is €23 300 per family, similar to Elderveld. 41% are single earners. Also in De Laar the local Populist Party Zuid Centraal received the most votes in the last elections.

 

De Laar has 5 general practitioners, 4 dentists, a cluster of physiotherapists, a pharmacy, a care office and a medical dispensary. There are 3 schools, one public school, one Roman Catholic school and one Protestant school; all including a kindergarten. In addition De Laar has 2 day care centers, 2 after school programs and a toddler group. There is no youth centre, only a bus for youngsters which comes once a week and the youth mobile library that comes twice a week to two different locations in the neighborhood.

There are not many sport facilities in the district. The residential area has some small playgrounds and the sports hall De Laar offers indoor sport facilities and harbors a basketball, volleyball and a badminton club.

 

De Laar has a district center next to the sports hall, where there is a center for social work and the local police officer has his consultation hours. The district association offers courses like modern dance, acrobatics and digital photography. For the youth there are specific courses like freestyle skating and acting classes, and for the younger children there are courses like painting or drawing. Recently a Mother Child Group has been initiated that meets once a week in the rooms of the district association.

 

Most people in De Laar have lived in the community for a longer period of time:10 years or longer is no exception. Despite this fact, people do not know each other very well. Especially in the areas where there are expensive owner-occupied houses and both partners work to pay the mortgage, people do not have much contact. In some areas there are street festivities, like a barbeque or an afternoon during which the small parcels of public green are collectively maintained. It is possible to obtain subsidies from the district platform for neighborhood events, such as a neighborhood barbeque, if it includes activities for children.

 

“I was a very busy working mother with one child. Now, as a full time mother of two it is a very busy life as well, but it is also boring. Enlisting my child in the childcare center is too expensive, now that we only have one earner in the family. Therefore I was very pleased with the opportunity to start a mother child group as part of the program of the district association. I miss being with people. I miss the social life. I need to have a place to go to with my children.” (Initiator of the Mother Child Group De Laar-West)

 

 

De Laar has a small shopping center including a supermarket with a small post office and a bakery, a stall with flowers and plants, a hairdresser, a video shop, and a cafe with a cafeteria. The neighborhood can be reached by 3 different main roads, and there are 2 bus connections with the city centre of Arnhem.

 

The social climate in De Laar is rather anonymous. Both the chairwoman of the district platform as well as the chairman of the district association claim that the potential for volunteers is very low. People tend to live their own lives and do not want to get involved with things that are going on in their neighborhood. The physical set-up of De Laar alongside a major road can also be seen as an obstacle to communication and social interaction. De Laar lacks a natural center. Mainly people with young children in kindergarten or primary school age maintain social contacts in the neighborhood. The district association organizes events for children, like a Santa Claus party or a lantern procession on Saint Martins day. These events are attended by many people with small children.

 

The local paper in De Laar is issued for a minimum of 6 times a year in 4500 copies. The De Laar website, wijkvereniging.delaarwest.nl, can be reached through the homepage of the city of Arnhem, but it is not maintained very often.

 

 

Issues and Concerns

 

The youth is considered a problem and a nuisance on the streets, particularly those who drive around the neighborhood on scooters and play loud music. This is especially a complaint of elderly people.

Another issue is the lack of money machines in De Laar West. There is one machine in De Laar Oost, but there recently have been a couple of robberies, so people are afraid to go there.

The city counsel of Arnhem has promised to negotiate with banks to ensure that money machines will come back to the district.

 

Like in Elderveld, maintenance issues have high priority in the neighborhood plans of the city council. Other items on the list include: facilities for youth, support of resident initiatives, as well as public transport and safety. There have been a couple of initiatives to improve the safety for children, especially in the vicinity of the schools.

 

Facilities that are missed include a library, a hospital/emergency room and a discount supermarket. For people with children it is important that there are enough facilities for the youth. There are also some ideas to start a walk-in center, where elderly people can meet. In contrast to Elderveld facilities for elderly people are almost non existent. The district association wants to change that, in co-operation with the city council.

 

Inhabitants of De Laar think of their district as a dormitory neighborhood but seem to lack willingness to invest time and energy to change that. Social contacts and cohesion are lower than in Elderveld and are anticipated to decline even more with the expected influx of people from other districts of Arnhem in the wake of residents of De Laar moving to Schuytgraaf

 

 

Relationship to Schuytgraaf

 

Inhabitants of De Laar seem well informed of what is going on in Schuytgraaf, especially the young people who think of moving there. Many inhabitants fear being bothered by increased traffic and Schuytgraaf inhabitants looking for sneak routes in their neighborhood. Many express the fear of a social decline of De Laar when well to do residents move to Schuytgraaf and people with less income from the Arnhem “problem districts” move into the neighborhood. Some people in the district welcome that they will benefit from the fact that a small train station will be built in Schuytgraaf. Others say they will stick to their cars when they want to go to the northern part of Arnhem, where most of the facilities and institutions are situated.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The inhabitants of De Laar are hard to motivate to take initiative in their neighborhood. There are not many volunteers and social contacts and networks are rather weak. For the larger part of the neighborhood people hardly know their neighbors and do not show interest in what is going on in their community.

 

When residents are asked to join in with events or to fill in a questionnaire, the response is minimal. Even with festivities organized by the district association in co-operation with the district platform where nothing much is expected, people tend to stay at home. It is therefore not very likely that inhabitants from De Laar will be interested in participating in projects in Schuytgraaf. The exception, however, are young people and parents of young children, for whom opportunities for social contact and social activities are lacking. There is also a demand for services for seniors.

 

 

 

IV)      Driel

 

 

Facts and Figures

 

Driel[91] is a small village belonging to a neighboring municipality. In 1995 Eastern Driel was ceded to Arnhem so Schuytgraaf could be built there.

 

Driel has 3890 inhabitants. 32% are under 25, and 10% are over 55 years of age. The average persons per household is 2,71. 93% of the population of Driel live in 1 household buildings. The percentage of migrants in Driel is 2%. The mean yearly income per person in Driel is €10 300. The percentage of low-income households is 39%.

 

There are two general practitioners, a dentist, a physiotherapist, a cesar therapist, and a language therapist. The village has a home for elderly people, afternoon meetings for elderly twice a week and a daycare facility in the village house for the mentally disabled.

 

Driel has three primary schools (all including a kindergarten), one public school, one Roman Catholic school and one Protestant school. There are 2 further locations for day-care including after school care and 1 toddler group in the village. There is no medical dispensary anymore; people have to go to the neighbor village for this service.

 

Driel has a village association and a village council as well as the village house where events for residents are held. The village association has no special program. Two women’s groups, of which almost all members are over 60, meet for theme evenings once a month. Driel also has a music school with ballet lessons.

The mobile library was discontinued in May 2004. It was not used much, because it came during school hours and the elderly people considered it difficult to climb into a bus.

 

Driel harbors several sport and play facilities including a football club, a volleyball club, a badminton association, and a tennis association. Furthermore there are two riding schools and a training centre for horses. There are several small playgrounds in the village which are maintained by volunteers. Plans exist to create more play facilities, but at this stage this seems more wish than reality.

 

Driel is a village were families live since generations. Only when a family has lived there for more than 3 generations is it called “native”. The division between new-comers and locals is marked, even in a geographical sense. The new-comers live in the newer parts of the village (built in the seventies), the locals live in houses that have belonged to the family for centuries. The young people of Driel like to come back to their home village after they have finished their education. There is, however, a shortage of housing. Plans exist for a new part to be built in Driel to meet this demand, consisting of 200 dwellings. Unfortunately, ground prices have risen dramatically after the municipal reorganization. It is therefore not at all certain that young people from Driel will be able to afford these houses. There may be a slight chance that they shift to Schuytgraaf, but the prices in Schuytgraaf are high as well and most of them want, if possible, to stay in Driel. The quality of housing in Driel is good. The rental houses have been recently renovated, so they meet the demands of modern times. The owner-occupied houses are for the most part well maintained.

 

Inhabitants of Driel are socially very active. They participate in the local clubs and associations and in the active church life of the community. Almost everyone takes part in at least one association in one way or the other. Social cohesion is strong. People know each other.

 

The shopping centre of Driel has recently been renovated. It includes a supermarket, a bakery, a florist, a real estate agent, a clothing shop, a butcher and a garage with a fuel pump. Driel can be reached by three main roads. The Rhine river flows on the northern part of the territory. There are 2 bus connections to the city centre of Arnhem, and a bus connection to the neighboring village Heteren.

 

 

Issues and Concerns

 

Among the facilities that are being missed most in the village is a library. There used to be one, but it became too expensive to keep up. It was decided to exchange it for a mobile library, which proved not to be profitable either so this facility has had to stop as well. Almost the same is the case for public transport. The number of buses had to be reduced. Now it is difficult to get out of the village, especially for the elderly since train taxis do not drive in Driel and existing transport facilities for the elderly tend to not be very punctual.

 

Another major gap is a discotheque and other facilities for the youth. There used to be a discotheque, but there were some problems with youth from outside the village. Also the costs were too high, so it was closed. The village council and the governing board of the village house are looking at possibilities, but it will be difficult because of anticipated inconveniences for the rest of the village, especially for the elderly, as the home for elderly is situated in close vicinity to the village house.

 

With the making of new pavements, the whole square in front of the village house was rearranged. Young people are assigned a special corner on this square, so that the “nuisance” is restricted to a minimum. But the youth want more, they want a place were they can be without having to worry about being a bother and where they can do whatever they want to do.

 

Like in Elderveld and De Laar, a discount supermarket is also being missed.

 

 

Relationship to Schuytgraaf

 

Generally people who reflect on Schuytgraaf are not happy with the arrival of the new neighborhood. They fear that by the arrival of over 6000 inhabitants in close vicinity the rural character of their village will be lost. Only the local shopkeepers, sporting associations and churches are looking forward to the new inhabitants as prospective clients and new members.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The inhabitants of Driel are happy about the fact that almost everyone knows everyone else in the village, if only by sight. They expect that the inhabitants from Schuytgraaf will do some of their shopping in the village, or make use of other facilities, especially in the beginning stages of Schuytgraaf, when not everything in Schuytgraaf will be in place yet. The sporting associations hope to welcome a flow of new members and the churches in the village look forward to more church-goers. In general, however, Driel inhabitants are rather reluctant about the changes to the village atmosphere they foresee. Even the coming of a new district in their own village is reluctantly accepted because otherwise the problem of lack of housing for the young people can not be solved. The inhabitants of Driel are happy with the way things are in their community and are not looking forward to any changes at all.

 

 

V)       Implications for Schuytgraaf and for the Temporary Settlement

 

 

Schuytgraaf is faced with many challenges. It is under tough competition with a neighboring Vinex town extension location. It is dealing with adjacent communities that are not looking forward to it and in general do not show much willingness to welcome the new neighborhood. And it is seen as the cause of possible social decline and social problems in the neighboring districts.

 

Finding ways to deal with these challenges is of importance for the development of Schuytgraaf. One way could be to create services targeted at the gaps in the neighboring communities in order to be perceived as a benefit and enrichment to the region. What is mainly missing in the surrounding neighborhoods of Schuytgraaf are facilities and activities for the youth, as well as discount supermarkets and a library.

 

Creating attractive shops and small businesses is a strategy that is already being deliberated by a unique program foreseen for Schuytgraaf, in which small entrepreneurs are being given start up chances instead of the big companies as it is usually done.

 

It also seems important to invest in social projects contributing to community building and integration, that radiate beyond Schuytgraaf and can create points of social interaction with the adjacent communities. This applies both in regard to the current situation in the adjacent neighborhoods, especially in De Laar, as well as in regard to the anticipated difficulties when a new population moves to the neighboring communities in the wake of current inhabitants moving to Schuytgraaf.

 

Schuytgraaf can strongly benefit from creating a special profile, that distinguishes it positively from other Vinex locations.

 

The projects and activities foreseen in the temporary settlement like the Mother Center, the International Garden and the Neighborhood Academy seem well equipped to meet these requirements. The temporary settlement can offer many attractions and events for young people as well as opportunities to get involved, along with services for the elderly, for instance transport services for the older people in Driel or general eldercare services for De Laar.

 

From the perspective of the temporary settlement many issues of the neighboring communities can be seen as assets. The potential for instance of the migrant population in Elderveld and De Laar, and also the unoccupied youth, who form a big reservoir of time, talent, energy and creativity when engaged in a productive and constructive way. Parents represent a relevant part of the population of the neighboring communities. Co-operation can easily be envisioned between the Mother Center and the Mother-Child Groups in De Laar, as well as between the International Garden and the Community Garden Association in Elderveld. Co-operation opportunities can also be foreseen between the volunteer agency in Elderveld and the temporary job agency in the temporary settlement.

 

The temporary settlement has an important role to play in linking the new development to the adjacent communities. Though this chapter focuses on a case study of a specific location, the social integration with surrounding neighborhoods is a key challenge in any new development project. The many social and community building aspects of the temporary settlement make it well equipped for this task.

 

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