In the past decades the city has grown with over 100,000 inhabitants, mostly accommodated by building a new urban area called Leidsche Rijn. Utrecht is the fastest growing large city in the country, with an expected growth of its population to 450,000 inhabitants in 2040. This is a growth of almost 29% in just 20 years’ time.
A student city, Utrecht is home to some major educational institutions—the University of Utrecht is not only the second largest of the Netherlands but is also one of the highest-ranking Dutch universities in several international indexes. The city has more than 70,000 students in higher education, giving it a relatively young population and the most highly educated workforce in the country. Utrecht is a well-developed knowledge-based economy and due to the investments in innovative companies and efficiency of the labour market, the Utrecht region the second most competitive region of the EU, and being constantly in the top 3 of this ranking. Utrecht also has a rich culture. Its many national and international festivals contribute to Utrecht’s cultural heritage. The historic centre—with its Dom Tower, wharfs and canals—is one of the assets of the city.
The qualities of the city and its surroundings make Utrecht a good environment for residents, businesses and visitors. To accommodate the growth of 100,000 inhabitants Utrecht needs to create 60,000 new houses in the coming thirty years. This forms a big challenge as space is limited and there is a need to densify within the borders of the city instead of enlarging the build area of the city.
Its transition to a bigger city forms a big challenge as space is limited and there is a need to densify within the borders of the city instead of enlarging the built area of the city. In addition, this expected growth also has consequences for the way the mobility system is organized, energy is provided and circular economy is created. Utrecht has the ambition to become 100% circular in 2050.
To help the process, Utrecht has taken part in the URBACT Network URGE, which aims to design integrated urban policies on circularity in the building sector. In addition, the city has also joined the TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES network, which explores how tourism can be sustainable in medium-sized cities.
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