Many people worry that buildings in the city centre will fall vacant and that people will leave the centre. They fear that this will lead to cities with "hollow" cores where barely anyone still lives or works. However, an important conclusion that the PBL has reached is that fears of hollow city centres are largely unjustified. This is because vacant stores or offices are generally given a new function. These buildings might be transformed into catering establishments or homes, for example.
Resilient city centres
Both experts and the media devote a great deal of attention to the future of Dutch city centres. Vacant stores and offices are a particularly important point for discussion. At the request of the House of Representatives, the PBL published its report entitled "Resilient city centres" in June 2015. The report discusses matters such as vacant buildings, the living environment and facilities in Dutch city centres.
There are significant differences between various Dutch city centres. In its report, the PBL defines five different city centre profiles - from "vibrant in a strong region" (e.g. Haarlem, Utrecht and Zwolle) to "weak and peripheral" (e.g. Heerlen, Assen and Almelo). Given that the city centre profiles all present their own problems and opportunities, municipalities should formulate targeted strategies for each profile to improve their city centre.