New Dutch Waterline (The Netherlands) : A private operating model controlled by public authorities

New Dutch Waterline - 2000-2014


  • Construction period: 1815-1940
  • Stretch of the line of defence: 85 km
  • Width of the line of defence: 3 à 5 km
  • Number of communes: 24
  • Number of fortified towns: 5
  • Number of forts and other structures: 60
  • Number of redeveloped forts: 40

A policy of openness
The New Dutch Waterline benefits from “National Project” status starting in 2000 up until the end of 2014: Five ministers, five provinces, 24 communes and five water agencies are working together to create the “Krayenhoff Panorama”, a masterplan for fort rehabilitation and redevelopment projects organised by geographical sector. Boosted by the Dutch government since 2000, and loyal to the motto “preservation through development”, the regeneration of forts is in many cases confined to non-profit organisations or private entrepreneurs.

Global fort redevelopment programme in the town of
The commune of Utrecht (313,800 inhabitants in 2011) has owned the eight forts comprising the New Dutch Waterline located on the outskirts of the town, since 1997. Their redevelopment has been the subject of a programme which is due to run from 2000 to 2017. There is a tea room, a campsite, a memorial for the future, conference rooms, an after-school facility and from 2015 a structure offering mentally handicapped persons the opportunity of employment. Located in a natural setting, the forts are little natural havens near to the Netherlands’ central town. Each fort is subject to its own restoration and maintenance programme prior to redevelopment. The new operator is involved from the restoration phase to ensure that the planning and landscaping corresponds to the new usage of the site. In accordance with the town’s political will, rents are fixed at the market price for commercial operations and at lower prices for other usages. The rental period is set a renewable five years.


Positive aspects

The obvious advantage of Utrecht’s approach is that it retains control of the consistency between the different usages and remains responsible for planning. The commitment to delivering a “turnkey” redeveloped fort to the new operators was possible during the more favourable economic climate, but this would be more difficult today.