Revitalising the Nieuwe Binnenweg in Rotterdam

In the early ‘50s, the Nieuwe Binnenweg (weg meaning “street” in Dutch) became one of the most important shopping and entertainment streets of the city. However during the ‘60s the street and the surrounding residential areas spiralled downwards. In 2008 the Rotterdam City Development Corporation (Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Rotterdam, OBR) initiated the revitalisation of this once popular street in order to make the area in the west of the city more attractive. 6000 m² of premises and façades are being renovated.

There is also a strong focus on safety and security within the neighbourhood. Also the infrastructure within the street has been addressed in order to make the area more accessible. Through the efforts made with the support of the ERDF funding, twenty new entrepreneurs have been attracted, empty commercial premises have decreased and thirty new jobs have been created.

Issue: giving the street a new brand and atmosphere

With the Rotterdam Action Plan for Shopping Areas, the city gave a green light to the starting of an integrated approach on the Nieuwe Binnenweg. This integrated approach aims to improve the buildings in the street, to give the area a new brand and atmosphere, and to improve communications in and around the shopping street. It will also focus on the redesign of the neighbourhood as a whole, and in particular the leisure spaces.

 A revitalisation project manager has been appointed by the project leaders (the OBR and the district Delfshaven), whose task it is to draw up a financial foundation plan through direct dialogue with entrepreneurs, landowners and other stakeholders.The plan for the revitalization consists of four pillars:

  1. Measures aimed at improving the quality of entrepreneurship and branding of the street;
  2. Measures aimed at improving retail buildings and sales within the area;
  3. Refurbishment of the surrounding area and measures aimed at achieving a clean and safe street;
  4. Better communications.
Approach: improving the shopping and entertainment street in Rotterdam

As mentioned before there is an integrated approach to this project. The project consists of the reconstruction of the street combined with improvements to private homes, retail buildings and improvement in retail and entrepreneurial support. The work on this project was initiated by the municipality, but it is carried out in cooperation with property owners, residents and entrepreneurs. The planned maintenance of the tram tracks is being used to improve the shopping area and also radically to improve the quality of the residential and retail properties as well as of businesses. The ERDF can only be used for the plans to attract entrepreneurs and to improve retail buildings. A specific subsidy for the improvement of the shops has been created ​​and there an active Brand Manager present in the street.

Results: creating new opportunities

Some of the results of the Revitalisation of the Nieuwe Binnenweg in Rotterdam are:

  • 6000 m² of premises and façades are being redeveloped (which will result in eighty new retail areas with an average of 75 m² of space);
  • Through the re-establishment of the street, 20 new entrepreneurs have been attracted;
  • Empty shops have decreased from 11% (24 units) to 7% (15 units);
  • 30 new jobs have been created;
  • The attraction to live there of more people from the middle and high income group, and it will also see a better social mix in the population;
  • Finally, through the revitalisation project the overdue maintenance of eighty buildings has been carried out;
  • About 1100 metres of the street will be refurbished.
Spin-offs and the influence of Cohesion Policy: tackle the problem of abandonment and impoverishment

The project will contribute to the improvement of the economic structure within an out-dated neighbourhood as well as the improvement of the quality of life in the area. Tailor made approaches have been put into place to tackle the problem of abandonment and impoverishment. After the achievement of the Revitalisation of the Nieuwe Binnenweg the long process of urban renewal aimed at improving the living conditions in the surrounding districts of the old shopping and entertainment street will end.

Added value and lessons learned: project impossible without ERDF funding

The ERDF has made the integrated approach to this street possible. Municipal budgets are too limited, and thus without ERDF funding the project would not have been possible. One of the lessons learned was that appropriate content and process management is of paramount importance. The complexity lies in the fact that there is some self-financing involved in this project, as ERDF funds only the revitalisation of retail buildings but not the refurbishment of housing. For the Revitalisation of the Nieuwe Binnenweg it can be said that good preparation is half the work. The added value of this project lies within the integrated nature of the approach and the fact that the entire area will be improved with this revitalisation.

A further added value in this project is that the City of Rotterdam is the Management authority for the Operational Programme to which these local actions belong. From a governance point of view, this approach is rarely followed in the context of Cohesion Policy. It has clearly improved the urban dimension of Cohesion Policy though, and has given the local level a clear voice in programming and implementation decisions.