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Holland Metropole offers a wide spread of Expo Real events

The Holland Metropole alliance has organised a series of events for this year’s Expo Real real estate trade fair in Munich, ranging from a lunch for investors to a focus on rebuilding the devasted Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Eindhoven’s mayor Jeroen Dijsselbloem will be taking to the Exhibitors Stage in C2 on Wednesday as part of a session about creating social value and better returns by investing in cities. Dijsselbloem, a former Dutch finance minister, will be joined by ULI Europe chief Lisette van Doorn and Coen van Oostrom, CEO of ground breaking real estate technology firm Edge – making it an event not to be missed. (C2/430 at 10 am)

The magic of innovation districts is up for discussion later in the morning, and The Hague’s urban development chief Robert van Asten will be outlining the city’s approach to bringing new life back into industrial areas. (A2/A12)

Regenerating Mariupol

Later on Wednesday, Mariupol’s deputy mayor Sergiy Orlov will be talking about the humanitarian effort and presenting Mariupol Reborn, a major programme to revive Mariupol once it is back in Ukrainian hands. 

Ukraine’s international partners, European cities and large Ukrainian businesses, together with Mariupol City Council, have joined forces to plan the regeneration of the city after the liberation using best practices and the latest technologies. Orlov will be in conversation with Utrecht’s deputy mayor Eelco Eerenberg. (A2/A22 at 1 pm).

Investors lunch

On Thursday, Holland Metropole partners are hosting an invitation only lunch for investors at the International Investors Lounge to discuss the opportunities to create value in the region via residential development.  

Then at 1 pm, attention turns to Digital Twins, PropTech, Data & Innovation – a discussion with a number of leading lights from the Holland Metropole at the International Investors Lounge (A1/132). 

For the full line-up, check the complete Expo Real conference programme.

Expo Real takes place from October 4-6 in Munich. You can find the Holland Metropole alliance at stand A2.130

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Cut the housing shortage by better use of current stock: report

The Netherlands could offset some of the shortage of housing in the short term by making better use of its current housing stock, according to a report by research group Platform31.

Some 40% of dwellings are currently lived in by one person, and the average amount of space is around 65 square metres each – almost 20 square metres more than in Germany or Belgium, the report points out.

The report highlights three areas where action can be taken: putting more people in the same space, more housing in the same space, and encouraging the elderly to move to smaller homes.

Living alone

Although some people choose to live alone in big apartments, there are ways to encourage a better use of space, Platform31’s Frank Wassenberg told broadcaster NOS. ‘Living with more people should be rewarded,’ he said. ‘The more people who can share the current space, the less you have to build.’

One way in which people could be encouraged to share is stop the financial penalties facing people who do. For example, banks and other mortgage providers can be difficult about allowing home owners to rent out a floor.

Tough rules on tenants rights may also deter people from renting a room or floor to another person, Platform31 said.

Social security laws are another factor, the researchers say. For example, two pensioners or two people claiming welfare benefits are given hundreds of euros less in state support if they share a home.

Friends contracts

Allowing young adults to share properties – using so-called Friends contracts after the popular series – would also reduce the pressure on starter homes, the researchers say.

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The Hague boosts affordable housing supply

The Hague is expanding its supply of rent-controlled and mid-market rental properties with a project to build 570 new homes in a residential area south of the city centre.

The De Schaloen development will be made up of 225 social housing units, with rents no higher than €730 per month, and 345 mid-market rentals. The homes will be built around communal gardens with underground car parking and the first will be ready for new tenants in 2023.

Locals already living in the Moerwijk-Oost area of The Hague were involved in drawing up the development plans, which involve the demolition of 220 outdated social housing units.

The population of The Hague is increasing by some 5,000 on an annual basis. ‘We are building 4,000 new homes a year, with a focus on affordability,’ housing chief Martijn Balster said. ‘This agreement is a major step towards realising our ambition. And we are investing not only in a large number of affordable homes, but in pleasant surroundings, with plenty of greenery and places to play.’


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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.

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Holland Metropole is succeeding but more can be done: report

The Holland Metropole region is establishing itself as a unique multi-city region with the ingredients to succeed as a major player globally, according to a new report by The Business of Cities group.

‘The fundamentals
of growth, knowledge and infrastructure are in place and the region developing its innovation edges,’ said the report, the third on the region by the research group.

However, as the Holland Metropole evolves and matures, it is starting to experience more of the dynamics that the very top regions in the world are living through, and this requires even more focus, attention and innovation, the report’s authors state.

Mapping opportunities

These will require better mapping of the opportunities in the region, so that it becomes more visible to external markets. And while central government is providing short-term investment to improve the transport infrastructure, there should be more cooperation on investment in the regional transport system and in managing congestion around the big cities.

Housing policies too require alignment and by working together, the five cities will be able to ensure that the
region as a whole continues to provide opportunity and choice, supported by housing policy reforms and incentives at the national level.

‘Holland Metropole’s special mix of innovation sectors is more likely to be successful if supported by co-investment in urban amenities, infrastructure and experience in more of the region’s high growth job locations,’ the report, published to coincide with Expo Real 2019, said. ‘Continuing support for SMEs to achieve catalytic scale will also be essential to catapult the region into the top class of innovation regions.’

Download the full report ‘Fulfilling Potential’

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Developers welcome new cash for housing, but warn about economic swings

The Dutch developers association Neprom has welcomed the government’s plan to inject €2bn into stimulating the building of new homes but has warned that efforts need to be made to make sure that the sector is less sensitive to economic swings and that the money should not be used for short-term gains.

‘During the crisis, development at a lot of locations was stopped and investment opportunities for both the private and public sector were limited,’ Neprom chairwoman and BPD area development director Desirée Uitzetter said in a reaction.

‘We are still coping with the fallout from that, and since then no major new locations have been earmarked for development. This is why the sector has not been able to increase production to reach the necessary 75,000 new homes a year. So this effort from the government is very necessary.’

Neprom suggests spreading the €2bn over a 10 to 15-year period to ensure production is stable over a longer period. Developers say the money should be linked to regional investment agendas drawn up by local authorities, the private sector and social campaign groups.

‘Increasing the provision of new housing must be linked to investment in the necessary infrastructure, the energy transition, other measures connected to climate change and in strengthening the green and blue structures of cities and their surroundings,’ Ms Uitzetter said.

(Read the press release – Dutch)

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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.



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)

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MRP Development goes for modular construction

Holland Metropole partner MRP has decided to focus on modular housing to head off the growing shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector, pointing out that 95% of Japanese housing is built using modular techniques.

‘There are so many advantages to it,’ chief executive Bart Meijer. ‘It is quicker, there is less nuisance for neighbours, we can meet energy efficiency targets easily and it is completely circular. If we want to keep meeting demand for housing, this is the direction we have to move in. Compare the cost and ease of installing 100 bathrooms in a factory with installing 100 bathrooms on site, for instance.’

In addition, he points out, using modular techniques allows developers to meet government requirements on social housing, because it is cheaper than traditional building methods. MRP hopes to have its first modular housing ready to move into in two years time.

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The Holland Metropole’s big five cities are driving up the global benchmarks

‘Holland Metropole is becoming the multi-city metropolis to watch’

Greg Clark and Tim Moonen, Business of Cities

The past year has seen significant change in the number of city benchmarks and there are now well over 500 such studies produced worldwide.

And, according to a new report, Holland Metropole group is one of
the most frequently ranked
city regions worldwide, with more than 400 appearances
(in indexes and sub-indexes) across all five cities.

This, The Business of Cities report states, is partly due to the way each city borrows scale from the others, and partly due to its unique system of economic specialisation.

It is also particularly striking that across all benchmarks, Amsterdam has maintained its position as the third highest performing city region worldwide, overtaking Paris and now behind only London and New York.

Wider region

Over 40% of all benchmarks take into account the wider metropolitan and regional level of performance, reflecting the success of Amsterdam but also the appeal of the wider region.

Amsterdam may take first place in global studies such as the Healthiest Cities Index, Best Cities for Tech Enthusiasts and Qatar FCA Global Green Finance Index (for the depth of its green finance).

But what has really been important for Holland Metropole’s rise is that the region’s other constituent cities are also performing very well, The Business of Cities report states

App economy

For example, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Eindhoven all rank in the top 20 in Europe for the number of app economy jobs (ppi) and Eindhoven, Rotterdam and The Hague all rank in the top 25 global innovation hubs in EMEA. (Hickey & Associates).

Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven also rank in the top 45 globally for talent competitiveness (INSEAD).

‘Success is enhancing the identity and distinctiveness of all five cities, within a single compelling package,’ say the report’s authors Greg Clark CBE and Tim Moonen. ‘Holland Metropole is becoming the multi-city metropolis to watch.’

Download the report ‘Fulfilling Potential’

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