Chapter 11:       The Neighborhood Study

The neighborhood study was conducted as a case study, targeted at the town extension site Schuytgraaf and examines the profile of the adjacent communities Elderveld, De Laar and the village Driel.

Elderveld and De Laar are middle class communities built in the seventies that are showing signs of their age. The attitude towards the new settlement is rather skeptical. There is some concern that the new settlement will attract the more affluent part of the communities to move to Schuytgraaf, bringing in an influx of low-income families from the Arnhem “problem neighborhoods” to fill the vacated houses. There is a fear that this will cause social problems and a social decline of the neighborhoods. The communities also fear the increase in traffic to be expected with over 6000 new dwellings in Schuytgraaf, which can only be reached by one road. Congestions and bothersome traffic of people seeking sneak routes through the communities are anticipated.

 

Driel is a village with a strong community. They fear that the new settlement could destroy their village atmosphere as well as the beauty of their surroundings.

 

Serving neighboring communities

Schuytgraaf could counteract its negative image in the surrounding communities by creating services targeted at the gaps in the neighboring communities, so that the new settlement can 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 and better shopping opportunities. Creating an enabling environment for the development of small businesses and investment in community building projects that radiate beyond Schuytgraaf are vital strategies of socially integrating the new settlement into the environment. This applies both in regard to the current situation in the adjacent neighborhoods, as well as in regard to the anticipated difficulties when a new population with less income moves to the neighboring communities in the wake of current inhabitants moving to Schuytgraaf.

The projects and activities foreseen in the temporary settlement like the Mother Center, the International Garden and the Neighborhood Academy seem well equipped to support social integration and social engagement. The temporary settlement will offer many attractions and events for young people as well as opportunities to get involved and apply own ideas and talents. Additional services like transport services for instance, which are now lacking for the elderly, can be made available by pioneer businesses.

 

Turning problems into assets

From the perspective of the temporary settlement many issues of the neighboring communities can be seen as assets. The unoccupied youth, that is currently perceived as a nuisance causing noise and trouble on the streets, can form a big reservoir of time, energy and creativity when engaged in a productive and constructive way.

The temporary settlement is also well equipped to mobilize the participation of the migrant population of the adjacent communities, that so far does not take part in neighborhood activities.

 

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.

Click here for the full text of this chapter

Next chapter