Between 1996 and 2006, more than 17 thousand hectares (ha) were added to the total area designated for residential purposes. The amount of square metres (m²) of living space per household declined in this period. At the same time, the amount of living space per capita increased.
Residential area increase the same size as Texel
In 1996, the built-up area constituted 9 percent of the total Dutch territory. Two thirds, i.e. 214 thousand ha, were designated for residential purposes. Between 1996 and 2006, more than 22 thousand ha of new residential area – mainly former farmland – was laid out. Simultaneously, more than 5 thousand ha of residential area was converted into roads and recreational and agricultural areas. On balance, more than 17 thousand ha of residential area were added, i.e. an area the size of the West Frisian Island of Texel.
Changes in land use
Area per household down by 4 m²
The average living space available per household in 1996 was 323 m², as against 319 m² in 2006. The living space per household declined, as the increase in living space was not offset by the more rapid growth in households.
The average area of living space per capita, on the other hand, increased from 136 m² in 1996 to 139 m² in 2006, because the number of residents did not grow as fast as the number of households.
Residents of Drenthe have largest area available
The living space per capita varies considerably by province. Residents of the province of Drenthe averaged 209 m² in 2006 versus 100 m² for residents of the province of South Holland.
The average area of living space available per capita has grown in nearly all provinces in the period 1996-2006, save in Flevoland and Utrecht: residents of these provinces lost 7 and 2 m² respectively. In Flevoland, this is caused by the construction of new residential areas in the municipality of Almere, whereas the new residential district of Leidsche Rijn was added to the municipality of Utrecht in the province of Utrecht.
Per capita living space
Agriculture occupies largest percentage of land
At the end of 2006, the total area of the Netherlands equalled 4.2 million ha. Nearly 20 percent was covered by water; 68 percent was used for agriculture and 14 percent consisted of woodland and nature. The remaining 18 percent was used for living, working, recreation and traffic.
Use of land area, 2006
Chantal Melser and Dick ter Steege