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Inheritance consultants visiting: New impulses from the north for spatial developments in the Flemish countryside.
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
The existing Flemish policy with regard to these transformations in the agricultural area is currently mainly regulated in a generic way and therefore runs little under control. These shifts in function also put pressure on agriculture: fertile soils are becoming fragmented and less and less available for food production. Agricultural organisations put the 'right to farmers' first and call for better protection of agricultural land against fragmentation and improper use. Spatial development strategies must have a permanent eye for the functioning of professional agriculture, but must also provide a framework within which new social developments in rural areas can take place in a spatially qualitative and sustainable manner. This integrated approach can provide better guidance for spatial transformations, but also ensure a better understanding of the quality requirements for the rural landscape. In recent years, the Spatial Planning and Housing Policy Research Centre (Steunpunt Ruimte en Wonen), among others, analysed various transformations in rural areas on behalf of Ruimte Vlaanderen. Building on these findings, Ruimte Vlaanderen commissioned two studies that formulated policy recommendations for an assessment framework for non-agricultural transformations and explored the possibilities of the instrument 'contract approach' for new economic activities in former agricultural buildings. Subsequently, Ruimte Vlaanderen set up a knowledge exchange on this theme with the Dutch foundation Het Oversticht. In the province of Overijssel, they deployed 'heritage consultants' who supervise new spatial developments in the rural area on a process-oriented basis. The province applies the principle 'for what belongs what': in exchange for the development space provided, the initiator must also invest in environmental quality, so that there is also a clear spatial and social benefit. The policy framework developed by the province of Overijssel as part of the provincial Environmental Vision for this purpose is particularly inspiring and offers very workable principles that can also be used in the Flemish context. The Dutch heirloom consultants have already shown their approach and are testing it on three Flemish agricultural sites