Protesters in Geldermalsen tore down fences and threw fireworks at police who responded with warning shots but no serious injuries were reported.
Chanting slogans against the proposed centre for asylum-seekers, around 2,000 people joined the protest in a town of 27,000, according to national broadcaster, NOS.
The Police in Geldermalsen, near Utrecht, said via their official Twitter account that they had “so far made numerous arrests, it’s is not clear yet how many”.
A meeting in the Dutch town to discuss whether to build the new centre for migrants had to be abandoned. It was evacuated by policemen as rioters sought to force their way into the building.
The incident was the biggest display of anti-migrant sentiment in the Netherlands since hooligans attacked a Syrian refugee centre in October.
Deputy Justice Minister Klaas Dijkhoff, who oversees immigration and asylum policy, called the incident in Geldermalsen “un-Dutch.”
He said that the protesters had crossed a line. “Finding shelter for asylum seekers poses difficult questions but there is a limit when it comes to expressing your opinion,” he said on Dutch TV.
“The line is crossed when you barge in yelling and rioting. That’s not appropriate in a discussion and, thankfully, we have seen that it went much quieter in other places and a solution was found. This is not ok.”
European countries are struggling to cope with the largest movement of migrants since World War Two, many of them Syrians who have come via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.
The migration crisis is expected to dominate a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday.