Check the zoning plan

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

You have your eye on a location for your business. Checking the zoning plan will tell you if you are allowed to run your business there. Municipalities use zoning plans to outline how certain areas may be used. A zoning plan has 3 parts: the explanation, the rules, and the zoning map. Zoning plans contain a lot of information that may not apply to you. So, here are some tips to help you find your way, and a brief look into how zoning plans are created.

Reading a zoning map

Once you have a building or lot (perceel) in mind, look it up on your municipal zoning map. The map is colour-coded. For example, yellow areas are zones for housing, while purple areas are for businesses. The rules explain what each zoning category means, outline what is and is not allowed in each zone and what that means for you. The explanation provides some background information on the reasons for the rules, the history of the area, and studies justifying the plan.

Finding relevant information

Zoning plans can be difficult to read, but scanning the digital document for specific terms could help. Search for keywords such as ‘businesses’, ‘environment’, ‘traffic’, and ‘parking’ to quickly find relevant sections of the document. Zoning plans contain lots of information, including the following topics:

  • Expansion: how much space does your business have to expand? Zoning plans usually allow for at least 10% expansion.
  • Purpose: what activities are allowed on your lot and are these in line with the activities you have planned?
  • Environmental impact zone: is the lot big enough for your business, so that it does not negatively impact your direct environment?
  • Accessibility: is it easy to reach your business or lot?
  • Parking: is there enough parking on and nearby your lot, and will it stay that way?

Important: What is and is not allowed for your business depends in part on the purpose of your lot. However, the purposes of nearby lots may also affect yours. Remember to look beyond your own.

Do you have a say in creating a zoning plan?

Changes to the zoning plan may have consequences for your business, now or in the future. Before adopting a zoning plan, the municipality must allow anyone involved to respond. This is part of the so-called public participation procedure. You have 6 weeks after publication of the draft plan to review it and raise any concerns. The municipality will then review the responses and draw up a final zoning plan. The process ends when the council adopts the zoning plan.

Organise participation

Changes to a zoning plan rarely affect just one business: there will also be consequences for other businesses near you. Coming up with a response together can strengthen your position. Consider involving the local business association, or reaching out to your industry association or your local or (regional) employers’ association. They can comment on the plan on behalf of the local business community. There is often an ongoing dialogue (in Dutch) between business associations and the municipality. Usually, business associations are often involved in the planning processes early on. That is when input from local businesses is most impactful.

Stay up to date

When a municipality wants to change a zoning plan, it will post a notice on its website (in Dutch) and in the municipal newspaper. Remember that you may not get a copy of this newspaper if you do not live in the municipality where your business based. There are various tools that you can use to stay in the loop.

Sign up for the Ruimtelijkeplannen.nl notification service (in Dutch) to get automatically notified of all planning updates in the area.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK