Reclamation of Land
In the seventeenth century there were already (private) initiatives to turn the Zuidplas lake into a polder, but the financial stakes were always too high. In 1816, King William I of the Netherlands commissioned a new plan from the Waterstaatsdienst (Department of Water Management). Since the King also provided the finance, the Zuidplas Polder can be deemed the first state polder. The engineer J.A. Beijerinck was responsible for the design and the realization. His plan was primarily focused on making the drainage as efficient as possible.
Besides the use of mills, "assisting steam power" was also introduced for the very first time. This technical innovation had barely any impact on the spatial design of the polder, as the ranks of mills and drainage pools were still essential. Beijerinck organized the drainage channels, together with the polder roadways, so that they fit into an orthogonal main structure.
For a long time the polder was primarily an agricultural area. Now the landscape has also been occupied by other functions. In the Northern section, more and more cultivation under glass has developed, and the main structure of the polder is criss-crossed by motorways and business parks. Over recent decades, five of the six surrounding municipalities have extended their built-up areas into the polder. Because of the pressures of urbanization, the emptiness of the polder is extremely attractive to developers.