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Rotterdam expands eastwards with 30,000 new homes

Rotterdam city council has drawn up new plans for a 30,000 home expansion on the eastern side of the city which officials say will make inroads into the current housing shortage.

The strategy to redevelop an area stretching between the Prins Alexanderplein and Zuidplein has been made possible by the decision to build a new bridge and fast tram service over the river Maas. Good public transport connections are an essential part of Rotterdam’s expansion policy.

The Oostflank development will also include shops, health centres, schools, sports parks and plenty of greenery. City housing chief Chantal Zeegers says that the project will help an ‘awful lot’ of people looking for a home. ‘But that is not the only aim the city administration has,’ she said. ‘It is also about having a pleasant place to live.’

Most of the residential development will take place on brownfield sites around four existing public transport links – Rotterdam Alexander, metro station Kralingse Zoom, the yet to be build station Stadionpark and the Zuidplein metro station close to Hart van Zuid.

Several existing residential areas, including Het Lage Land, Prinsenland, De Esch, Bloemhof and Hillesluis will also be expanded and renovated. In addition, the plan includes two new residential neighbourhoods, both of which will have plenty of room for water and trees.

“Building homes cannot take place without incorporating other functions and this is why the city is investing in creating parks and gardens as well,” said outdoor planning alderman Vincent Karremans.  Several sports clubs and three allotment complexes will have to move when building work starts but all will be found new locations in the same area.

The plans are currently out to public consultation and everyone is being invited to have their say. After the summer, the city council will take a definite decision about the new zoning plan. 

Read the details (in Dutch)

Eindhoven may invest millions in city heating schemes

Eindhoven city council is considering investing millions of euros in developing city heating schemes in older parts of the city, in an effort to ensure residents are not confronted with high bills as the use of gas-fired heating is phased out.

City heating schemes, which use heat generated in biomass power stations or residue heat from industry, have a key role in the Netherlands’ plans to stop the use of gas in private homes by 2050.

Private companies and developers are likely to take responsibility for city heating schemes in new residential areas. But the high cost of laying pipes in the inner city make it crucial that Eindhoven itself has a role as a public partner, officials say.

Heat is currently provided by two biomass power stations, but officials agree that using wood chips to generate warmth is not a sustainable solution. The issue is also politically sensitive, and pressure has been mounting on national and regional governments to look for greener options.  

Unlike Holland Metropole partners Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Eindhoven does not have heavy industry producing heat which can also be tapped. However, research is also underway into the option of using thermal heat from either ground or waste water as a longer-term alternative.

The Netherlands is committed to phasing out the use of natural gas in private homes and industry in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases. New residential developments no longer have to be connected to the gas grid by law. Eindhoven officials expect city heating schemes to be an option for between 10% and 50% of the city’s homes.

Interview with minister Kasja Ollongren

‘Meeting housing targets is a challenge’

Kasja Ollongren, minister

The main challenge facing the property sector in the Netherlands is to ensure everyone can live a pleasant and comfortable life in rented or owner-occupied accommodation, Dutch home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren said at the presentation of the government’s budget for 2020 in September.

The plans include setting up a €1bn fund to help the six big city local authorities speed up housing construction by preparing more land for building and so meet the target of 75,000 new homes a year. A further €50m has been allocated to develop a clean air agreement with local and provincial governments

‘Not only must we build more houses more quickly due to the housing shortage, but we must also guarantee affordable, sustainable homes now and in the future, often in locations where space is already at a premium,’ the minister told Holland Metropole Magazine in an interview.

 

Challenge

At the same time, however, the Netherlands also faces the challenge of implementing a huge energy transition in the framework of climate change, which, the minister points out, will have a major impact on the housing market. In particular this involves phasing out the use of gas for heating and cooking in private homes.

In other words, not only must we give priority to house building but also to making existing homes more sustainable,’ the minister says.

 ‘The eventual outcome must be a sector that is even more resilient, in which corporations and developers, builders and the housing authorities work together in harmony in a housing market with fewer excesses and in which eventually everyone lives in a sustainable manner.’

In order to achieve this, the minister argues, it is very important that the public and private sectors work together. ‘Only by working together can we face up to the challenges facing the housing market. There is a clear role for investors, builders, municipal authorities and myself.’

Download Holland Metropole Magazine (for Expo Real 2019)

Dutch senate backs extending rent controls to more homes

Legislation to bring more homes under the Dutch rent control system have been approved by the senate and are set to become law in the Netherlands on July 1.

Government officials say the new rules will result in some 90% of Dutch rental housing falling under some form of rent control although they will only apply to new tenancies.

Landlords and property developers have been campaigning to have the plans put on ice, arguing that the new measures will discourage investors from entering the affordable housing market.

Affordable new homes

In an effort to appease investors, housing minister Hugo de Jonge has agreed that developers who start work on new rental properties from now up to 2028 will be able to charge a premium of 10% on top of the official rise for a period of 20 years. The official annual rent rise will be based on either inflation or average wage increases plus 1%.

Senators also agreed to an assessment of the new legislation within three years.

Points for more amenities

In effect, De Jonge is hiking the current maximum rent in the rent-controlled sector from €879 per month to €1,157 – based on the number of points a property is worth.

At the moment landlords have free choice in deciding the rent of property which is calculated to be worth more than 143 points in the regulatory system. Homes with fewer points are classed as social housing with a maximum price of €879 per month and only open to people on low incomes.

De Jonge’s new maximum will be between 186 points, which means far more properties will fall under rent controls. Points are awarded for amenities such as the number of bedrooms, whether or not the apartment has luxury bathroom fittings, and the age of the property.

The point system is also being overhauled to give more weight to high energy labels, outside space, and the quality of kitchens and bathrooms.

Lower rents for new tenants?

Ministry officials estimate the rent of some 300,000 homes will go down an average of €190 when a new tenant moves in, and that 113,000 additional homes will become rent-controlled.

Currently, 57% of the Dutch housing stock is owner-occupied, 33% is rent-controlled and just 9% is available for people earning more than €40,000 who wish to rent. Housing corporations own the bulk of the rental properties but 1.2 million are in the hands of private investors, many of whom just own a couple of apartments as a pension.

De Jonge’s successor Mona Keijzer, who takes over as housing minister on July 1, opposes the new rent controls but says she will abide by the senate decision.

Some 180,000 new homes have been built in the Netherlands during the past two years, and 800,000 more must be built by 2030, of which 60% will be classed as “affordable”. Many of them will be built at 35 locations nationwide which have been earmarked for development in agreements signed between the minister and local authorities.

Holland Metropole @Provada June 11, 12 and 13, RAI exhibition centre Amsterdam

Holland Metropole cities, developers and investors are again taking part at the annual Dutch real estate fair Provada, which runs for three days from June 11 at the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam. 

Holland Metropole members are also involved in many of the events in the busy trade fair programme and networking events.  

AM chief executive Ronald Huikeshoven will be talking about what can be done to restore the balance in the Dutch housing market while Boris van der Gijp, director Achmea Real Estate will focus on building homes for seniors. Bouwinvest’s director Mark Siezen will be discussing social and affordable housing on Wednesday morning along with BPD’s European chief Harm Janssen.

The Van Wijnen group has a packed programme with a special focus on mid-market rentals on Thursday, while Heijmans is focusing on “talking with passion” with a string of sessions covering the importance of biodiversity, social cohesion, and dealing with homelessness.

On the city front, on Wednesday lunch time, Fakton hosts a G5 debate between the five big Dutch cities, focusing on the complexity of urban development in high density areas, the role of national government and the need for public private partnerships, such as the Holland Metropole alliance.

Amsterdam has a busy programme of events, including a focus on waterfront redevelopment and timber based building. The Hague city council is hosting a panel discussion on how the influx of international workers and students impact on housing and what can be done to create more homes quickly.

On Wednesday at 10 am Eindhoven housing chief Mieke Verhees will be joined by representatives of the home affairs ministry and ASML to discuss Project Beethoven, the government’s roll-out of special measures to encourage international firms to stay in the region.

The fair will be officially opened by caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge who has been pressing through market reforms, such as expanding rent controls and slashing red tape, not all of which have been popular with the sector. De Jonge will also expand on his views on the future of public housing at a session on Tuesday afternoon.

Private investors expand their share of Dutch housing market

The number of privately-owned rental homes in the Netherlands rose by a net 67,000 between 2021 and 2023, and most of the growth was down to new build and the transformation of existing buildings, according to Dutch national statistics agency CBS. 

The rise takes the number of homes in the Netherlands in the hands of investors to 14.3% of the total, or some 1.2 million. Of them, 385,000 are in the hands of big investors rather than private individuals or foundations. 

The Dutch private housing market is dominated by small players with just one or two homes, often as a pension provision and just 1,000 investors have more than 50 properties on their books, the CBS figures show.

New homes

The figures also show the private sector bought 78,000 of the new homes to come on the market in the two years under consideration – or 40% of the total. They also bought 70% of the homes derived from transformations or dividing existing buildings up into smaller residential units. 

Developers have warned that Dutch government plans to increase rent controls to cover more properties in the Netherlands will lead smaller investors in particular to sell, and there is some evidence this happening. Smaller homes, of up to 40 square metres, are almost certain to fall under the new rent control limit if it comes into effect later this year. 

MPs voted in April to extend the rent control limit to around €1,100 but the measure still has to pass through the upper house of parliament. Rents in the Netherlands are determined according to a point-based system, with points awarded for size, sustainability and facilities as well as location and property value. 

Developers welcome clarity

Dutch developers and investors have welcomed the clarity brought by the vote, in particular the decision by MPs to accept two crucial amendments covering the 10% rental supplement for new property and more recognition in the points system for energy-saving measures. 

“The law will not change the complex market conditions we are currently facing but does end the uncertainty, and that is of great importance to our members,” said Judith Nobart-ten Hoor, director of investors association IVBN. “Domestic and foreign capital requires stable policy and a healthy investment climate.”

Fahid Minhas, director of developers’ organisation NEPROM also welcomed housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s own concerns about the property transfer tax, which is currently 10.4% for private sector developers. De Jonge admitted it is “on the high side” from an international perspective and said he is prepared to tackle it in the autumn – should the current government still be in power. 

The Hague publishes design plans for new waterfront district

A former industrial area in The Hague is to be transformed into a residential district with 9,000 homes and city officials have just published their vision for the new development.

Laakhavens is a former urban port area adjacent to the main railway line and the Hollands Spoor station, which was once part of a bustling inland waterway network. With its factories and warehousing largely abandoned, the area is now about to be turned into a new urban district with a mixture of housing, retail, and other amenities.

The Hague city council has now put its design plans for the area out to public consultation, with work expected to start on the first project in 2025.

Older buildings considered to be part of the city’s industrial heritage will be repurposed and the design for the new development includes a series of apartment blocks which, at between 150 and 180 metres high, will be the tallest in the city. The waterfront will also be transformed with new housing, according to city council plans, which go into great detail about the design elements, from the use of traditional brickwork to the skyline.

“I have always said that if you want to add tens of thousands of homes to a city, then you have to do it properly,” city development chief Robert van Asten told the AD newspaper. “So we are going to get it right in one go.”

The plan not only includes a focus on striking architecture, but also on the outdoor spaces. “We have to make sure all these people live in a pleasant place,” Van Asten said. The project includes a large park on top of an underground car park which will be partly funded by €40 million from the national government. 

The aim is to ensure 55% of the area is either green or water, 25% is built up and 20% is paved or devoted to roads and footpaths. 

The Laakhavens neighbourhood forms part of the Central Innovation District, a project to redevelop large parts of the city between the three main railway stations. In total, 20,500 new homes will be built in the CID.

Artist’s impression: Gemeente Den Haag