The new Dutch government plans to build 100,000 new homes a year – taking the total by 2030 to around one million. But where does the figure come from? The NRC newspaper has been finding out.
The NRC says the ‘one million’ figure was first mentioned in 2017 by a Delft research bureau which has for years analysed the housing market on behalf of the government. It was later used by the Holland Metropole group as an alarm call, to alert ministers to the growing problems on the housing market and the need to develop a coordinated approach to the problem.
Despite the warnings from developers little changed, and ABF Research said again in late 2021 that 936,000 new homes would be needed by 2030. At the moment, the Netherlands needs 279,000 new homes to meet demand, ABF said. That figure is based on waiting lists, the number of young adults sharing homes, students living at home and people who in their 30s who have been forced to move back in with their parents.
The rest of the total is made up of homes that will be needed in the future. The CBS estimates that by the end of 2040, over 19 million people will live in the Netherlands, largely due to immigration. That will require 436,000 new homes, ABF said.
Households are also getting smaller. By 2035, the average household will have 2.07 people, half the size of a household in 1950, according to CBS forecasts. That growth too will require 243,000 new homes.
In addition, 118,000 homes will need to be replaced because they have been demolished.
The one million ‘is not cast in concrete’, housing market professor Johan Conijn told the NRC. ‘It is based on expectations about the future which may not come true.’ Social geography professor Jan Latten told the paper that prognoses are crucial because of the length of time it takes to develop new residential areas in the Netherlands.
He points out that immigration has consistently been under-estimated and that construction has failed to keep up with the changes. This means, he said, that the one million estimate could well be on the low side.
Conijn said long waiting lists, first-time buyers and renters who cannot get a foot on the housing ladder, and the high rental and purchase prices are all evidence of the problems facing the housing market.
‘The shortage of housing can grow or shrink, but it is extremely dependent on demographic developments and people’s housing preferences,’ he said.
In total, permits to build 74,000 new homes were approved in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 10% on 2020 and the highest number in more than 10 years, according to the CBS.