Success factors of temporary use of vacant lands

This Science Shop project addressed two different cases. The Kerngroep Reizende Tuin needed insight in how their initiative was experienced by the neighbourhood. With this research they aimed at helping and inspiring other initiatives planning similar neighbourhood activities in wasteland areas. The initiator in the other case wants to find out if a temporary neighbourhood initiative triggers new activity in the neighbourhood. This case is about Stichting Bloeiende Weelde, a foundation supporting neighbourhood initiatives.

Two students’ research projects have been carried out within the context of this science shop report. Key finding of this study is that successful temporary initiatives at wasteland seems to depend on the direct involvement of the surrounding neighbourhood. A short distance between potential users and temporary used spaces helps a lot. Success or appreciation for temporary neighbourhood initiatives is expressed in different ways. Some refer to the users’ intensity of use at the spot; others use the level of participation, or the level of recognition of the initiative by institutions, or the level of continuity the initiative is showing.  

Success factors for civil initiatives

Important critical success factors for civil initiatives (self-organizing initiatives) are to form coalitions with other parties that have similar ambitions or interests in the neighbourhood. Furthermore it is important to have clear communication with the surrounding neighbourhood, face-to-face contact and to share responsibility with participants. A local government that incorporates and encourages civil (neighbourhood) initiatives in their policy is a valuable stimulus.

The temporary use of the Nobelveldje during 6 months was positively appreciated by the neighbourhood. Nevertheless we have not found convincing evidence for substantial changes in the neighbourhood at any level. The student research was not able to find a lot of other examples of temporal use similar to the Nobelveldje. Several cases they addressed show that successful cases of temporal use are ‘risking’ to be turned into permanent activities. This precisely is the reason that property owners hesitate to facilitate temporary use of wasteland. The Nobelveldje initiative shows that when the initiators accept from scratch the temporality of the use it can help the initiative to be a success for all. A Finland case shows that temporary use can be used as a trigger or accelerator for new urban development. The activities initiate (urban) activity to places that became no-go areas.