The manifestos of parties standing for the Provincial Council elections on 15 March 2023
Political attitudes towards industrial developments in the Netherlands
The Province of North Brabant has decided to limit large-scale logistics developments – where will be next?
The public has thus become very aware of the strong growth of logistics stock (+61%) in the Netherlands over the last ten years: the word ‘boxification’, referring to the large-scale construction of box-shaped distribution centres along major roads, is coming up more often. Previous research by Savills has shown that major political parties in logistics hotspots have supported more restrictions for new distribution centres since the recent municipal elections.
The parties say that space is limited in the Netherlands which is bad news for a sector with an ever-growing need for space. Demand will continue to increase from drivers like near-shoring strategies developed in response to growing geopolitical unrest, and increasing e-commerce. The latter, is a direct result of our own consumer behaviour and in contradiction of public resistance to new distribution centres.
North Brabant is the first province in the Netherlands to impose restrictions when it comes to new distribution centres; new XXL distribution centres are only permitted within existing logistics corridors. North Brabant is the province with the largest amount of logistics stock in the country with approximately 28% of the total volume, so its stance is logical. After the recent provincial council elections on 15 March, are other provinces considering similar moves towards restrictions?
Political parties in Dutch provinces push for logistics restrictions
To find out more, Savills studied the party manifestos of the five largest political parties in the Ipsos survey from 3 March 2023. Unsurprisingly, these showed that the parties in North Brabant are by far the most vocal about additional restrictions. The number of parties in favour of a total ban on new distribution centres is limited and the parties often do not have a clearly articulated opinion or are advocating for specific locations for building distribution centres.
After North Brabant, political parties in Limburg and Drenthe are the strongest proponents of restrictions on logistics development. The greater support for restrictions by political parties in Limburg and North Brabant compared to North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht is easily explained.
Large distribution centres (DCs) in North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht are more concentrated in specific locations, and there is greater potential for hiring employees in the Randstad conurbation with less dependency on migrant workers. Migrant workers are needed in North Brabant and Limburg, however, as new DCs rely on their labour, leading to local tensions, for example, over lack of housing.
Interestingly, political parties in Drenthe are vocal about their opposition to the proliferation of ‘boxes’ despite only 1.3% of the total Netherlands logistics stock being located there. The BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB; the farmers and citizens’ movement) has taken a strong line : “The province needs to stop the emergence of large distribution centres, even if jobs are lost as a result.” The Labour Party (PvdA) has also expressed strong opposition to the construction of new distribution centres:
“Against losing our countryside to distribution centres, and the exploitation of migrant workers.”
What about the other provinces?
Despite these examples in Drenthe, many political parties remain relatively quiet on the topic, contrary to what might be expected considering recent media coverage. Even so, Savills expect to see a follow-up to the decision made by the Province of North Brabant.
The review of party manifestos showed that political parties mainly want to exercise more control over the scope, location and cohesion of industrial estates.
With 18 million inhabitants in the Netherlands by 2024, the fight for space will only become more intense, with a growing demand for the better utilisation of existing space as well as the need for more distribution centres. Simply banning new distribution centres and fighting emerging trends such as the growth of e-commerce, avoids economic reality. The new political approach therefore appears to be more about controlling ‘where’ new DCs are located and recognising the need for smarter use of existing industrial estates.
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