When I first read the research proposal, I was immediately enthusiastic; this was an opportunity to combine what I had learned at the Law Faculty, at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management and working for engineering and consultancy firms, confronting new challenges in the field of planning and institutional economics. Later on, when I realized that the future of metropolitan green areas in The Netherlands are by no means secure, I liked the subject even more; my research could possibly make a small contribution to protecting metropolitan green areas.
Writing a dissertation is like cycling the 11-cities tour; it is about remaining seated and continuing, it is about fun and challenges, it is about the land and loads of people, it is about working on your own and thankfully receiving the help of others. First of all, I would like to thank the people who, during interviews, were prepared to reveal what this research was about and all the others who provided all kind of information including pictures. I would especially like to thank Kees van der Vaart for introducing me to the Midden-Delfland case and Hans Leinfelder introducing me to the Park Forest Ghent case.
I would like to thank the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for funding this research within their “Environment, Surroundings and Nature” (GAMON) program. Thank to Terry van Dijk and all others who cooperated to arrange this funding. I also wish to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Dutch government through the Habiforum Program Innovative Land Use and Delft University of Technology through the Delft Centre for Sustainable Urban Areas.
My supervisor, Prof. dr. W.K. Korthals Altes introduced me to planning and read every word I wrote critically. My other supervisor, Prof. mr. dr. ir. J.A. Zevenbergen introduced me to agricultural land management and supported me in my attempts to explain the legal tradition to a wider academic community. In an early stage of my research project I overheard my supervisors saying to each other: “Ik denk dat we Evelien wel even kunnen laten zwemmen, ze komt wel weer boven.” (“I think we can let Evelien swim for a while, she will come up again”.) Dear Willem and Jaap, I am grateful for your contributions, I enjoyed the freedom to swim and your confidence in my swimming skills.
TU Delft and the research institute OTB provided good conditions for this PhD-project. There are many colleagues to whom I owe many thanks: the section Geo Information and Land Development, the administration office, especially Itziar, Jeanet and Dirk, the PhD board, the peer-group and the pub-group. Herman, Hendrik, Janneke, Jeanine, Richard, Arta, Wiebke, Eva, Bastiaan and Fernao: thanks for all your advise. Sören Johnson, thank you for making the English text more clear and concise. Dr. M.T. Taşan-Kok, Tuna, thanks for the support on theory and methodology. Dr. D.A. Groetelaers, Daniëlle, I have been lucky to share a room with one of the few experts in Dutch land development institutions.
AESOP's Planning, Law and Property rights group provided a good platform for exchanging knowledge on this topic. Prof. dr. R. Alterman, Dr. L.B. Janssen-Jansen and Prof. dr. W.G.M. Salet: Dear Rachelle, Leonie and Willem, organizing the Inaugural Symposium of the Planning, Law and Property Rights International Academic Forum with you was a valuable experience.
I would like to thank Prof. dr. J.P.M. Groenewegen, Prof. dr. E.R. Alexander, Dr. M.J.G. van Eeten, Prof. dr. A.K.F. Faludi, Dr. T. Kauko, Prof. dr. M. Neuman, Prof. mr. J. de Jong and Dr. E. Buitelaar, for reading early work on this thesis. This helped me to embed this work in a broader body of knowledge. Prof. dr. A.J. van der Valk, Prof. dr. ir. A. van den Brink, Dr. E. Koomen, Drs. J.E.C. Dekkers, Ir. A.H.J. Segeren, Dr. ir. S.H. van der Arend, Dipl.-Ing. T. Hartmann, Dr. iur. B. Davy, thanks for the fruitful knowledge exchange.
To my former housemates at the Jozefstraat and to Henriëtte and Joop, the esprit de corps depends on everyday things which were often provided by you. Nico and Fabienne, I owe you much more than an ice-cream in exchange for the help with the pictures. I thank all my teammates and coaches during the years and Frans Bosman for giving me the opportunity to put my mind on something else. Thera, Enna and Inge, life is not always as it is in the movies, but you bring them closer together. Sanne, Menno, Albertien and Niels (& partners), thanks for your friendship and understanding. Gabriëlle, Luis, Rosemarijn, Saskia, Maaike, Tessa, Gerdien, Corina, Jacobien, Marike, Inga, Madeleine, Michelle, Martijn and Gepke, thank you for asking “How is the research doing?” and for your suggestions on what to do with the things I complained about.
Linda, Anne, Femke and Tjeerd, thank you for the smiles on your faces. Utto, I wonder whether I would have ever got so much involved in policy and law without you. Brechje and your family, thanks for the hotline to Sneek. Who else can say, “elk woord is er één!” (every word counts!). Mama en papa, nothing helped me to write this dissertation as much as everything I have learned from you. Thank you!
Delft, July 2008