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Global Forces: Lelystad (The Netherlands)
Factory Outlet Village 'Batavia Stad'
Opening: July 2001
Developer: Stable International and Forum Invest
Lelystad, risen from the seabed of the former Zuiderzee, is the capital of the province of Flevoland. In 1957, East Flevoland, where Lelystad was to be built, was reclaimed and in 1966 the first building work began. Recently Lelystad welcomed its 65,000th resident, and during the coming years the town will grow further to 80,000 inhabitants.
Factory Outlet Village 'Batavia Stad'
Batavia Stad is the first Factory Outlet Village (FOV) in the Netherlands. Factory Outlet is quite a new concept in the Netherlands. The idea of bringing factory shops together to sell branded articles at low prices was developed around 1980 in the United States, from where it caught on in England. Now factory outlets have been opened across Europe, with great success too.
The FOV Batavia Stad is located in the Museum District of Lelystad on the shores of the Markermeer and IJsselmeer. The Museum District already contains a number of cultural and recreational facilities: the Batavia dock, where replicas of historic VOC ships are being built on a site that itself has a museum-like character, the Nieuwland Polder Museum that exhibits the development of polders in the Netherlands, the Olympion Sports Museum displaying the history of sport in the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Institute for Maritime and Underwater Archaeology, which researches into maritime history. It is important for the FOV to reflect this theme, giving it a thematic basis and thus enhancing its recreational and tourist allure.
The various functions are still scattered across the area. Thanks to its large scale and clear structural form, the FOV will form a good basis for future development. By laying out a distinct pattern of streets and squares within a rectangular site, the FOV will form a clear link with the adjacent port district and the water. Naturally the streets along and close to the water's edge are to be given an up-market appearance.
Socio-economic situation of Lelystad
According to the original master plan of 1975, Lelystad was to become a town of some 100,000 inhabitants, and was designated by the government as a centre of urban growth to accommodate people from the Randstad, particularly Amsterdam, who were searching for somewhere to live. During the first few years Lelystad grew rapidly, but several years later the government developed a new urban policy, which saw the beginning of the development of Almere (closer to Amsterdam than Lelystad). Because of this and several other developments, the town found itself in a downward spiral and growth in Lelystad came to a standstill.
Thanks to financial assistance from the government, the last few years have seen a recovery policy being developed for Lelystad. The results are already evident: the population has risen, the amount of vacant property has fallen significantly, entire residential neighbourhoods have been given a facelift and a new development of owner-occupied housing is getting underway. Sufficient employment opportunities, a large enough population and a variety of housing are the objectives of the Lelystad town council. The council's ongoing objective is for the town's population to eventually reach 80,000, with sufficient employment opportunities to match this growth.
In order to achieve these objectives, the town council has had to revise its development strategy. In that respect, the year 1996 marked a turning point, when the town council presented its 'Master Plan for Accelerated Growth'. The objectives of the master plan are ambitious, concerning not only the development of new residential areas and business zones, but also focusing on the existing town with the redevelopment of older districts and an upgrading of the town centre. The development of the 15 kilometre long shoreline is being given special attention too.
The Lelystad coast
In 1999 the vision 'The Lelystad Coast' was presented, in which the developments for the shore zone were established. The shoreline is one of the town's most desirable areas for development. Until recently, Lelystad's inherent quality as a lakeside town had hardly been exploited at all. In order for the town to turn its face, as it were, towards the water, ambitious development plans are being drawn up for both inside and outside the dykes.
With the establishment of the FOV, a huge impulse is being given to the recreational and tourist character of the Museum District and for the development of the shoreline as a whole. Next to the Museum District, the town port is being built which should be in full use by the spring of 2002. It will accommodate particularly charter sailing boats and passing craft. The port district, situated between the museum district and the existing residential areas, will be developed as the most striking area along the lakeshore, with a range of restaurants and cafés and an exciting new housing development.
Batavia Stad is built in the style of the United East India Company ('Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie - VOC'), which in the 17th and 18th centuries put the Netherlands as a seafaring nation firmly on the world map. Batavia Stad is a walled, fortified town with attractive streets and alleys, squares and frontages, and is built of natural materials such as stone and wood. Three strikingly designed gateways in the wall provide access to the town.
Importance of the FOV for Lelystad
Right from the initiative phase, Lelystad town council has supported the development of Batavia Stad. The arrival of the FOV has a number of important positive effects on the town:
- Employment aspect: Batavia Stad will directly create around 400 to 500 new jobs, a significant contribution for the town. The jobs created indirectly are of crucial importance too.
- Improving image: Batavia Stad means a powerful boost to the reputation of the town. Enhancing the town as a tourist product means enhancing the image of Lelystad as a whole.
- Positive effect on the centre: the centre of Lelystad has a local service function. The visitors who are attracted to Batavia Stad will complement this. A transport link will be created between the lake shore and the town centre to allow visitors to Batavia Stad to visit the town centre too.
- Positive effect on the museums: the FOV will create a positive interaction between a visit to the FOV itself and a visit to the museums.
The museums and the FOV have signed an agreement for integrated collaboration, in particular in the area of marketing. There are a number of reasons for collaboration between the cultural and educational organisations and the FOV:
- The FOV will generate an attractive flow of visitors towards the lake shore of some 1 million visitors a year, something that will benefit all parties.
- The need to rejuvenate cultural and educational facilities, with a stronger accent on visitor perception and interactivity to promote museum visits, and to safeguard the raison d'être of the museums themselves.
- The importance of a joint effort regarding the positioning, opening up and development of the whole area in order to turn this into a successful leisure destination.
In this way, the intention is to present the theme 'the relationship of the Netherlands with water' in as complete a manner to the visitors as possible. Through its shops, cultural and educational activities, events, hotels, restaurants and cafés, the district as a whole offers experiences, education, accommodation and entertainment to as wide a public as possible.
Naturally there have been wide-ranging discussions on the location of the FOV within the town. Three search areas were designated, namely the location on the shores of the IJsselmeer, the town centre and a site immediately adjacent to the A6 (the main motorway from Amsterdam to the north of the country). A number of factors are fundamental to the choice of location of the FOV: accessibility, expansion possibilities, parking space, identity and the opportunity to combine it with leisure activities. For the town council, the most essential starting point is that the arrival of the FOV would make a contribution to the town as a whole. This meant a number of conditions that the FOV had to meet at the very least:
- The FOV must have a highly distinctive theme that reflects the character of Lelystad.
- The type of retailing must be very carefully considered, particularly in relation to the town centre. It is essential that it contains only genuine 'outlet stores', and not ordinary shops.
- The FOV must have an attractive architecture that reflects the theme. Its image must be focused on the recreational aspect and relaxation. And, of course, the architecture must be of the highest quality.
- The infrastructure must be more than adequate.
- Collaboration in the marketing of the town must be given real substance. Only in that way can the benefits of the FOV in Lelystad be reaped to the full.
- At the same time as the development of the FOV, plans for the town centre must also be pushed forward. A strong, attractive town centre is necessary in order to benefit from the FOV;
- The FOV must fit in well with the urban environment.
The FOV can be regarded as a tourist and recreational product, exploiting the increasing intermingling of the retail, leisure and catering sectors. As a leisure facility, the FOV is responding to the changing demands of the consumer, who places higher demands on a more intensive and high-quality experience.
The power of the leading brands can be seen all around the world. For the large American brands, participating in the Factory Outlet concept in Europe is a big priority in their marketing strategy.
The concept of outlet shopping translates this power into a tourist product, namely 'fun shopping'. This, combined with the cultural and educational character of the museum district signifies a unique impetus for Lelystad as a recreational and tourist product.
The Journal of Urbanism