July 24, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Unifying public spaces in Utrecht would save a lot of money

Unifying public spaces in Utrecht would save a lot of money

in Council Speech of June 19 The mayor and council member wrote: “Deviating less from the three quality levels limits the scope for diversity in public space design, but also reduces costs because there is less room for (more expensive) exceptions.”

Over the past year, an exploration has been undertaken into the unification of public spaces, as promised in the council’s June 2023 abatement letter. This has examined both the use of materials, the design process and engagement.

This exploration shows that the municipality wants to focus more on the three existing quality levels: Utrecht Domstad, Domstad Special and Utrechtse Allure. The standardisation concerns all physical objects in the public space, such as paving, lighting, choice of green spaces and furniture (lamp posts, benches, waste bins).

For the development of new or redeveloped areas, the municipality is still looking for the right level of quality; the municipality says it is still possible to deviate from the standard to give specific sites a unique appearance.

Quality levels

Three quality levels are used in Utrecht. The Framework Document on the Quality of Public Spaces (2016) states that 85 percent of the outdoor space in Utrecht consists of Utrecht Domstad, 10 percent of Domstad Bijsunder and the remaining 5 percent of Utrechtse Allure. The levels vary in exclusivity and intensive use.

It is not yet clear to what extent the municipality can deviate from the three quality levels from 2025, according to the spokeswoman for Councillor Susanne Schildermann (Public Space). More details on the consolidation will follow.

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According to the study, standardization of materials use does not lead to savings when purchasing new materials. In addition, standardization does not save management costs.

B en W also follows the advice not to skimp on the quality of materials. While this would save costs when purchasing, it would mean higher maintenance costs and faster replacement, negating the savings.

Legal duty of care

In addition to standardization, Utrecht also hopes to save public space in other ways. Public lighting switch-on times are being adjusted to reduce firing hours, structures are being cleaned less often and major maintenance of clinker and tiles is postponed.

The council promised that “technical quality will remain guaranteed, in accordance with the statutory duty of care of municipalities to keep public spaces safe and accessible.”

Furthermore, the municipality will stop grazing in Maxima Park, and will choose smaller trees to plant 30 percent of the trees annually and provide “urban amenities in the city center.”

As of 2025, a structural reduction of €1,085,000 per year will be applied. It is not yet known how much the standardization will save per year.

Many municipalities and members of parliament warn of the financial aspects. Valley Year 2026where the national deficit is expected to reach around three billion euros among municipalities.