Several private and public parties want to develop a sustainable business park greenhouse horticulture annex at the Oud Prinslandse Polder. TNO's ProVer® method has enabled the parties gain a better understanding of each other than in the beginning. 'Vested interests are clear and we now understand each other better.'
The Suiker Unie sugar refinery is part of the West Brabant landscape, and of the social and economic life of its residents. The first plans for a sustainable business park stem from 1996 when Suiker Unie was looking for ways to expand and thus respond to the pressure deriving from the European sugar policy. Given that the refinery was operating at full tilt for only three to four months a year, the equipment, installations and infrastructure could, in principle, be made available for other companies the rest of the time. At the same time the provincial authorities wanted to promote horticulture, designating sites in its 2002 regional plan. At the end of 2003 the province suggested combining both activities. Once Suiker Unie and the Horticulture Development Agency (TOM) had drawn up a concrete plan for the Oud Prinslandse Polder in 2005, they decided to develop a joint vision. TNO was assigned the task of supervising the initial phase of this process.
To develop the vision TNO used the ProVer® method that accelerates the process. The idea is that the facts, stakes and goals of the parties in a cooperation process in a structured, clear and explicit way. The underlying conditions are made visible and structured, which provides a basis for the simpler formulating and prioritising of goals and, consequently, a more efficient and rapid cooperation process.
ProVer® is used to support the cooperation of different parties in regional development. This is expressed ultimately in a number of joint principles for a vision and a number of discussion items that the parties still have to come to discuss further. ProVer® can also be used for other projects that involve a complex cooperation process involving very different parties such as regional development and the development or restructuring of a business park.
The initiators of the Agro & Food Cluster West-Brabant (AFC) are Suiker Unie and the Horticulture Development Agency (TOM). Other partners are the province of Noord-Brabant, the Steenbergen and Halderberge municipalities and the Brabantse Delta water board. 'The interests of each partner have become clear and so we understand each other better. To go that extra step you enter into a negotiation process and therefore need to trust each other. Initially I was enthusiastic, then sceptical and finally really positive. The programme led to penetration and greater mutual understanding,' says Aart De Kok, project agency manager of the Steenbergen municipality.
More information about this project is available in the article 'Blood, sweat and &trust: the story of the application of ProVer® in the development of the Agro and Food Cluster'). More information about the ProVer® method is contained in the ProVer® product folder (in Dutch only).