Zoning plans may and can deviate from CROW guidelines, provided that the deviations are substantiated properly
As is common practice and allowed in zoning plan land, the municipal council referred to CROW guidelines when it adopted a zoning plan.
Pursuant to a particular CROW guideline, a cycle path had to be 4 metres wide. In the case at hand the cycle path in the zoning plan was 3 metres wide, because the fact was that the plan could not accommodate a wider cycle path. In a decision of 15 June 2016, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Dutch Council of State deemed that substantiation to be overly simplistic, since the CROW guidelines used in the case at hand governed more aspects than just the uniformity of cycle paths, as indicated by the municipal council. Cyclists’ road safety and preventing hindrances on cycle paths are among the important elements that were addressed in the creation of the guidelines. For this reason, in the event of a deviation from the guideline, the municipal council should have also taken these aspects into consideration and should have clearly substantiated that deviation. In short, guidelines are generally accepted tools used to draft zoning plans, but one must always adopt a critical approach to them, especially if one deviates from them.