In recent years it has become more and more important to co-ordinate work carried
out in the underground public space. People are increasingly frightened by the image
of an impenetrable tangle of cables and pipes belonging to dozens of organisations all
doing their own thing, along with all the attendant dangers that could affect the
correct and safe functioning of public utilities above and below ground. Municipalities
often feel that they have lost control over what is happening under the ground. This
guide will help to make the use of the underground public space manageable again.
The municipality has a crucial job in this respect. As the manager of (above-ground)
public spaces, the municipality can and must also take on the running of the
underground public space. In order to carry out this role a number of conditions do,
however, need to be met. At this time many municipalities are experiencing
difficulties justifiable or not with the active organisation of their underground
space. For this reason municipalities are keeping out of the underground public space,
or restricting themselves to the prevention of undesirable activities. The barriers
standing in the way of an active management role are strategic (what do we want to do
under the ground?), practical (how can we organise things?) and legal (which legal
instruments can we apply?).
It is therefore a matter of ensuring clarity and direction for the policy process, work
processes and the legal apparatus. This guide develops a structure to help realise these
objectives. The chapters on these three aspects can be read separately, while at the
same time the underlying connections between them are also indicated.
The policy process outlines in a sequence the phases required to define the municipalitys
management role, to implement it, and subsequently to structurally maintain it.
After defining the objectives and having made a direct comparison between the
existing and desired situations, attention is given to putting in place the necessary
legal apparatus and organisation in the municipality. Communication, both with the
concerned parties as well as with the public, and the creation of supporting structures
within management and administration also form parts of this process. Evaluation
and monitoring constitute the final part of the policy process.
Municipalities need to choose the legal apparatus that suits their management role
best for themselves. Basically, there are two possibilities. The first option is to use a
single new legal instrument, namely a bye-law on underground public spaces. Within
this framework all matters are, in principle, regulated for all the parties. The second
possibility takes as its starting point the adjustment of existing regulations. The legal
apparatus is supported by financial regulations. Furthermore, technical agreements
about lines and profiles are also important.
Work processes describes the day-to-day interactions between municipalities and cable
and piping managers, as well as the internal municipal organisation. A distinction is
made between (long-term) programmes and projects. In the case of projects there is
again a difference in working methods between large and small-scale works, and
single and combined activities.