On the second day of the New Europe City Makers Summit, City Expeditions to different cities in The Netherlands were organised. One of them explored Lelystad. Together with City Makers from the Netherlands, Paris, Riga and even India we discovered the urban challenges of a new town.

The city of Lelystad, only 50 years young, was built straight from the drawing table. Permeated by Dutch sobriety, Van Eesteren and Lely designed Lelystad in the form of a grid. While the city was designed to house around 100.000 inhabitants, only some 75.000 people came to live there.

Therefore, Lelystad is facing some challenges. The city center is characterized by a lot of vacant property due to spacious planning targeting a higher demand than is the case. Together with the lack of inhabitants the city centre sometimes looks like a ghost town. Nevertheless, there’s an active group of Lelystedelingen (inhabitants of Lelystad) who are concerned with their city. They seek opportunities to turn Lelystad in a vibrant city for its people. They aim to show people the bright side of the city with, for example, its green surroundings: the beautiful nature like the Oostvaardersplassen and enough space for organic farmers.

Focussing on the city centre again we see a lot of initiatives that try to draw people and businesses to the centre. The recently renovated main square is inviting and a perfect space for festivals, like the Week of the Amateur Festival, which was hosted during the city expedition.

Other initiatives focus on empty spaces, like Ron van Bron who build a pop stage in an empty cinema where he organises evenings and events. He invites kids and youngster that hang around on the street for an artistic lesson or to teach them how to play an instrument. The rest of the time he facilitates a practice area for newly formed bands.

Ending the day with a meal made by Syrian refugees, all the City Makers agreed that Lelystad has an enormous potential to become a great and inclusive city. The people from ‘De Stadmakerij‘ are the City Makers in this process.

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