Deventer is a city with a rich history centred around the river IJssel. Throughout history, the heart of the city has always been connected with the opposite western bank thanks to the ferry service between the banks. In order to reduce the chance of flooding along the river, the riverwater in the IJssel needed to be to drained towards the sea more rapidly. By lowering the floodplains at the Keizerswaarden, Stobbenwaarden and Olsterwaarden, as well as the Bolwerksplas, Worp and Ossenwaard, the IJssel will gain more room on both sides. The city took advantage of the opportunity these necessary measures presented to improve the spatial quality of the area, with the city’s historic character as a source of inspiration. The flood plain area where the river will be widened stretches over a length of almost 10 kilometres. Next to lowering the floodplains, new channels will give the IJssel more room to hold high water.

Keizerswaarden, Stobbenwaarden and Olsterwaarden

The lowering of the Keizerswaarden, Stobbenwaarden and Olsterwaarden flood plains included the construction of a channel over the full length of the area. The channel is approximately 100 meters wide. Quays that hindered the flow of the water were removed. To the south, the channel connects to the Deventer marina and in the north it flows into the ponds of the Hengforderwaarden.

Lowering the flood plains has resulted in a reduction of water levels by 10 centimetres during high water. The unpredictable IJssel will do the rest. The dynamics of changing water levels has created a valuable natural river habitat which contributes to the achievement of Natura 2000 goals by reversing the trend of decline in biodiversity. Hikers and cyclists are also able to enjoy the area, and water sports facilities are improved.

Bolwerksplas, Worp and Ossenwaard

The lowering of the Bolwerksplas, Worp and Ossenwaard included the construction of a channel on the west bank of the IJssel, which starts somewhat upstream of the Bolwerksplas pond. From the pond, the channel runs past the IJsselhotel in the direction of the Ossenwaard. One of the Netherlands’ oldest city parks, the Worpplantsoen, has not been affected by the work, with the exception of receiving a new green bank on the IJssel. Lowering the flood plains here has resulted in a reduction in water levels by 19 centimetres. The area has become more attractive for recreational means, and the ecological value of the Bolwerksplas has increased. The IJsselhotel has a beautiful riverside location, with an unobstructed view of the city skyline. A ship bridge inspired by the city’s cultural history is connected to the ferry, as part of the spatal quality improvements.

Plenty of room for water sports

Water sports associations and other interested parties were closely involved in the design of the Zandweerplas pond to the north. The pond is expanded to offer extra facilities for the water sports clubs. The rowing clubs have their own channel to train on at the northern end of the pond. Until 2016, the water sport clubhouse has also served as an information centre, where people could go for more information about the Room for the River programme and the project at Deventer.

Ecological ‘water farm’

The initial landscape type, which combines agricultural land with nature, is reinforced by the construction of extra channels in the area to the north of the city. The channels have given the ‘Nature Farm’ built by the IJssellandschap Foundation a more prominent position. The ecological ‘water farm’ plays a central role in keeping the vegetation in the flood plains low enough by grazing cattle to drain river water quickly to the sea during times of high water.

Historic pier

A new pier is built near the IJsselhotel on the west bank of the river, inspired by the famous ship bridge that once stood on the site. The pier has a floating section that moves along with the fluctuating water levels, so that the pier can be used year-round. In doing so, the pier will breathe new life into part of the city’s rich history.

A new platform at the IJsselhotel also provides a view of the Deventer waterfront from the west bank. Moorings for small leisure craft have been built along the quay.

Thanks to its combination of modern water management and its history-inspired spatial improvements, Room for the River Deventer is an excellent example of how we in the Netherlands work to make our river areas safer but also more attractive.


Channels digged along the IJssel near Deventer in order to allow the river to drain excess water during periods of high water. This will result in a temporary reduction of water levels in the IJssel, which will reduce the likelihood of flooding.



  • dredging and redesign of 10 kilometres of flood plains
  • construction of floating pier
  • construction of viewing platform
  • construction of green banks for Worpplantsoen park  
  • two homes on dwelling mounds (Nature Farm and a horse owner)


  • temporary water level reduction of 10 centimetres at the Keizerswaarden, Stobbenwaarden and Olsterwaarden 
  • temporary water level reduction of 19 centimetres at the Bolwerksplas