AMuse: placemaker San van der Zeijden

Occupation: Project leader area development municipality of Velsen
Age: 38
Proud of: Participation in the Hudson 400
Key in placemaking is… Developing an area where people feel at home

To reflect

“I am currently supervising Pont tot Park, the largest development in IJmuiden. As a project leader, I work from a strategic point of view on the municipal frameworks that we must establish together with the most important stakeholders. Participation plays an important role in this. For me, participation is essential. I believe that we as a municipality should continuously reflect on whether what we are doing or want to do is the right thing.”

Standing in the middle of it

“In my opinion, this can only be done by entering into discussions with the residents, users and entrepreneurs in the area. For me they are the most important stakeholders. Resident evenings and information evenings alone are not enough; they are often one-sided, they often attract the same people and people have to come to us for this and that is a barrier. That's why I always go into the development area. Only by being in the middle of it will you find out what is really going on. Then you can absorb what is needed and we as a municipality can do the right thing.”


“Sometimes I approach people at the supermarket or strike up a chat with residents while walking through the neighborhood. We have opened a project office in the area for Pont tot Park. If people feel like having a cup of coffee, they can walk in. It makes it all much more accessible. This creates much nicer and much more honest conversations.”

Another way…

“In conversation I often discover that there are shared interests. Those interests usually make a plan much better. For example, we thought that a road should be built on the north side of a development. But the residents did not want a busy road directly adjacent to their backyard. That is why we looked for an alternative and discovered that a road on the south side was not only more pleasant for them, but also much safer from a traffic perspective.”

Within slipper distance

“I remember well that we were working on senior housing. At one point a very old lady came up to me, she was already bent over. She approached me and said she wanted to be able to go to the supermarket in her slippers. 'Within slipper distance' she called it. It was very visual. I literally wrote it down like this in my council proposal.”


“One of the ideas that arose for Pont tot Park – purely because I walked through the area and talked to people – is to turn the park that surrounds it into something beautiful. Now hardly anyone comes, because there is little to do. As a municipality, we have embraced this as a quality that already exists. I would consider it a personal success if it soon becomes a nice park, where people like to come for a walk, exercise or play. Not only for the people who will soon come to IJmuiden, but certainly also for the IJmuiden residents of today.”