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Next Generation Master Planning

A framework for spatial development in a variable context.

Area development is often initially shaped by words and numbers − a business plan that aims to convince stakeholders. However, maximum assurance for all parties involved is obtained when end users commit, following political and social acceptance for granting the required permits. Land owners seek to maximize their land value and financiers seek assurance for long-term financial returns. It can be challenging for any kind of stakeholder to imagine the attractiveness of a plan without visual support to stimulate their imagination. A master plan adds critical value to this, as it concerns a future projection comprising various sub-projects that make up the overall result. A static blueprint offers insufficient flexibility to cope with a changing context. We are able to predict the future, but do not know what it holds for certain (e.g. trends and variation in supply and demand, changes in costs and revenues, technology). A futureproof master plan takes this into account by including flexibility from the bottom up. Market dynamics, for example, are integrated as a variable as several scenarios are mapped out, including the probability of change and the impact on the end goal.


The final result is a development framework based on real-time market projection and the distinctive characteristics of the location, the customer, the country, financing possibilities and more. Development possibilities are explained using both a visual impression and financial scenarios (different value propositions). It is completed by a phased overview of costs and revenue and a market approach strategy whereby the choice between in-house execution or outsourcing is weighed on the basis of available skills, corporate strategy, risk profile, financing options and so on.


Next generation master planning is a multidisciplinary process that requires a broad-based team. Depending on size, environment and ambition, the number of disciplines may increase significantly. However, the basis is always formed by an experienced project manager (mostly an expert in a substantive discipline), an urban planner, a civil engineer, an environmental/stakeholder manager and a nautical expert. The financial expert, legal advisor and, for example, risk manager come into the picture on an ad-hoc basis. If required, a communications advisor and tendering advisor can also be added to the team. We use a layered approach that involves investigating relevant area properties (soil, water, energy, access, sunlight etc.) within the subject area and combining these with market projections and preconditions/political preconditions. By converging the layers, this creates one or more optimal designs. The process begins with research, followed by a creative process (scenario design) and ends with making choices, validating, testing feasibility and further developing the strategy. Validating is best done in consultation with the client by combining all disciplines in workshops. This includes not only our own disciplines, but also those of the client. In order to create the right tension between the disciplines and to put real opinions on the table, we may use innovative methods such as reality gaming.

Time & cost

Depending on scope and ambition, we assume a lead time of 6 to 12 months, to be completed in 4 to 5 project phases. Everything can essentially be compressed. Time is needed for carefulness and to reflect on what has been achieved, both on our side and on the customer’s side.  Since a master plan involves large geographical areas, a great deal of effort is needed to obtain all the necessary information. Mobilizing a multidisciplinary expert team requires the necessary investment. It is important to consider that a full-scale master plan can be costly. In order to control costs, however, it is possible to execute parts of the plan and progress step by step. If explicit ideas already exist, a market approach strategy can help to kick-start development. Alternatively, an explicit market demand could exist, and then the aim is much more on fining a suitable location and accommodating this market demand. We are open to discussing the development of a master plan or customized service with you. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Onno Roelofs

Download our Next Generation Port Masterplanning leaflet in English here… or Espanol aquí…