IMG_6043Land acquisition is the beginning of many land use changes. Both governments and private investors use land acquisition to gain power over land use. Knowledge on land acquisition is thus important for understanding and influencing the way land is used. Land acquisition can be complex and opaque, due to the involvement of a variety of parties and interests within a dynamic political, social and economic context. To understand land acquisition, it is essential to understand its basis: land transactions. Land transactions for land use changes have specific dynamics. Firstly, the landowner is not always necessarily willing to sell his land. Secondly, and related, to prevent deadlock situations, governments can apply legal instruments to purchase land for planning purposes, which places them in an unequal power position. Thirdly, a limited time frame can create time pressure within the transaction process. Fourthly, the value of the land generally alters with change of land use. Finally, transactions that form parts of planned land use change (spatial planning) are interconnected.

This article investigates land transactions in relation to intended land use change from a micro-scale perspective. Drawing on an indepth analysis of the planning process for the realisation of Oostvaarderswold in the Netherlands, it explores the different aspects and their interrelations influencing landowner behaviour during land transactions. Land transactions were described as shifts in property rights that are constituted in interactions (negotiations) between a buyer and seller. Institutions, interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects were all found influential to the strategies land owners and land purchasers applied. The study shows how land transactions are co-evolving with the planning process. Human interactions were critical for the understanding of the interrelation between the planning process and the land transactions. The importance of these personal interactions for the successful realisation of plans is sometimes forgotten by planners. Land acquirers are aware of the importance of these interactions, but planners do not always realise that their policy documents and ‘pen lines’ are the starting point of political games and strategic negotiations with land owners.

Broekhof, S., R. Beunen, R. Van Marwijk, H. Wiskerke (2014) “Let’s try to get the best out of it.” Understanding land transactionsduring land use change. Land Use Policy