Giving up? No, broadening
There are many issues on which one should never give up, such as fundamental human rights. In these, every voice counts both for society and for the individual. Other matters are not so clear. Should one object to the intensifying of construction activity, especially of high-rise buildings, in the Randstad? Some people do put up a fight against this trend but the results are frankly disheartening: instead of 110, the height of towers is reduced to 75 metres (https://www.omroepwest.nl/nieuws/4477783/woontorens-op-plek-voormalig-ministerie-worden-lager-wil-haagse-gemeenteraad). Even worse, there are many more proponents of high-rise, intensive urbanization, often with arguments that seem rational. Any debate with them leads to an impasse and, as they represent considerable interests by a multitude of stakeholders, it's their views and plans that win the day.
Should one give up objecting? Emphatically, no! Such developments can ruin the future of cities that have been quite liveable so far, so any objection that can tweak this future is worth making. What one should give up is debating in the narrow frame within which questionable tendencies are justified. The housing boom and high-rise building in the Randstad is justified by the housing demand but this is not the only relation that matters. One should also analyse what causes this demand. This might reveal factors that influence the location and form of desirable housing, for example that apartments in high-rise housing are often a temporary solution for young people. The appeal of low-rise terraced houses with private front and back yards, and easy access to the ground remains strong, especially to families with young children. Moreover, what makes people want to live in the Randstad rather than any other place in a tiny country like the Netherlands? There may be more room for development all over the country, not just in a few urban centres, if other aspects like employment and amenities become more widely spread.
Further broadening of the frame for the housing debate concerns apparent inconsistencies between policies: stimulating fast building construction may be incompatible with the climate goals of the country, including nitrogen emissions (supposedly solved by lowering the highway speed limit) and the energy transition (do new urban developments comply with its long-term goals?). Will the new high-rise, dense housing lead to more urban heat islands? Will it make the traffic and transportation problems even worse? The thing with the built environment is that it underlies too many facets of daily life and therefore too many of our urgent problems. Letting cities grow willy-nilly inevitably exacerbates these problems.
So, rather than giving up the debate one should put it in the broad frame it deserves. We've been talking about related problems separately for too long. It's time that we accepted that they are connected in a way that doesn't allow for piecemeal, simple solutions.