Marlon Boeve to start as Professor of Environmental and Planning Law in Area Development

News - 21 September 2022 - Communication BK

The Netherlands is struggling with major issues in the areas of mobility, housing construction, sustainability and climate. These great challenges result in multiple interests coming together in area development. Environmental and planning law are therefore in the spotlight. On 1 September, Marlon Boeve took up the position of Professor of Environmental and Planning Law in Area Development in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in Delft. She carries out research on the impact of environmental and planning law in practice. The planned Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) is therefore also an important subject of her research. This act will combine and amend more than twenty acts that relate to our physical living environment.

She briefly sums up what her research will comprise: the legal and administrative evaluation of environmental and planning law in area developments. Naturally, the agenda will then also include the Environment and Planning Act, for which the planned entry into operation date is, for now, 1 January 2023. “The Environment and Planning Act aims to facilitate a coherent and area-specific approach. For example, the Environment and Planning Act will give local authorities more administrative room to manoeuvre and give citizens and businesses a more proactive role in spatial development.” In addition, the national government increasingly wants to take control in spatial planning, while the Netherlands faces considerable challenges with regard to sustainability and housing construction. In short, it is a highly dynamic field of research.

In her research, Boeve focuses on how environmental and planning law functions in that field of influence. For example, in a small country like the Netherlands, the available environmental space is scarce and rights relating to existing activities sometimes have to be curtailed to allow for new developments. It is interesting to examine how environmental and planning law works out in such a situation. “This would make a good PhD research topic, for example.”

Photo by Jonathan van den Broek on Unsplash.

Cross connections

Law does not stand alone, Boeve asserts. A multidisciplinary approach is important, especially in research on area development. “Interaction with other fields is necessary to identify good legal questions and to prevent law from lagging behind events and hindering innovations.” TU Delft provides ample opportunity for researchers with different areas of expertise to work together. “I see fruitful cross connections both within Architecture and the Built Environment and with the faculties of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG) and Technology, Policy and Management (TPM). The network of the Foundation for Knowledge in Area Development  (Stichting Kennis Gebiedsontwikkeling, SKG) which is affiliated with TU Delft, can also provide important support.”

Building a shed

Boeve's interest in environmental and spatial planning law was sparked while she studied law at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). “I have always been fascinated by how people relate to their environment, at all levels of scale. From building a shed blocking the neighbours’ view to a large industrial activity that emits hazardous materials into populated areas. Under what conditions can activities take place and how do you regulate that?” Experts on environmental and planning law can play a variety of roles in area developments, Boeve explains. In helping design land exploitation, for example, or as advisors in expropriation proceedings. The role of the legal expert is to investigate the legal scope that, for example, a zoning plan, and in the future a physical environment plan, can offer for area developments.

How are interests and positions protected? Both residents and businesses want to have legal certainty.

Marlon Boeve


According to Boeve, environmental law is complex, and not just because it encompasses many different areas: spatial planning, the environment, water and nature conservation. There are tiered regulations, involving different authorities, with the national government, the provincial authority, the water authority and the municipal authority all playing a role. “Moreover, a significant part of national environmental law is based on European legislation. This includes standards for water quality and air quality or the protection of specific flora and fauna.” This must be taken into account in Dutch area developments, Boeve says. “The fact that nature and the environment have limits and that crossing them can have far-reaching consequences is clearly illustrated by the nitrogen issue.”

Interesting cases

Boeve spends two and a half days a week working for TU Delft. Although most of her time is spent conducting and supervising research as an extension of her teaching and research remit, she also enjoys teaching. Very much so, in fact. “I really enjoy interacting with students. I teach aspiring lawyers in Utrecht, and here I teach future engineers the legal context of designing the built environment. It is fascinating in terms of content, because to what extent do the legal instruments support ambitions to plan, design and build in a climate-proof, energy-neutral or circular manner? And, conversely, how do building engineers meet an increasing number of, sometimes conflicting, sustainability requirements?” She prefers to work on the basis of real-life examples. "For interesting cases, I can turn to my colleagues at the Foundation for Knowledge in Area Development” And the faculty also has a Circular Built Environment Hub. “Yes, I am curious about that. My experiences in Utrecht tie in nicely with it.”

More information

Marlon Boeve has been appointed from 1 September 2022 to the Department of Management in the Built Environment at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft.

View prof. Marlon Boeve's professor page here.

Marlon Boeve specialised in environmental and spatial planning law. Both disciplines fall under environmental and planning law, the domain of all legislation and regulations concerning the physical living environment. Boeve completed her doctorate in environmental and planning law for the compact city and is co-author and editor of the standard legal work Omgevingsrecht (‘Environmental and Planning Law’). Among other organisations, she has worked for the Centre for Environmental Law (UvA) and continues to work part-time at the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law of Utrecht University, where her focus includes the legal issues around the development of a circular economy. The professor is appointed by TU Delft. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is funding the position of Professor of Environmental and Planning Law in Area Development at TU Delft, which works with the Foundation for Area Development Knowledge (SKG).

Header image: Image by Sander van Wettum