Archives for News

Rotterdam is home to the world’s biggest floating office

Rotterdam is home to the Global Centre on Adaptation, an international broker for climate change and housed in the world’s biggest floating office, which has been largely constructed from timber.

The GCA’s new home is a massive timber ark, which is completely off grid and self-sufficient in energy. The south facing roof is covered with 900 square metres of solar panels and the ark uses a water-based heat exchange system for heating. The north-facing roof is green to store water and help keep the construction cool.  

Everything used in the ark is reusable and recyclable, which means the construction can be taken apart and moved to a new location. The GCA office, which is ranked BREEAM Outstanding, even has its own herb garden.

‘I am delighted that GCA will be housed in a building that showcases pioneering climate-resilient office design and I hope it will inspire others to future-proof their infrastructure,’ said GCA chief executive Patrick Verkooijen. ‘Taking suitable steps before disaster strikes not only makes economic sense but can also help us to mitigate against climate change.”

Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven is currently being redeveloped into a new city centre with a floating park covering 18 hectares and high-rise with a total of 2,500 new homes.

The project to develop the floating office was backed by the city of Rotterdam.

Read more

Holland Metropole alliance heading for Expo Real

The Holland Metropole alliance is heading for the Expo Real real estate trade fair in Munich with a team of 24 partners, plus five start-ups in the real estate sector.

This year, the use of timber in modern construction, as well as the importance of climate change and adaptation, take centre stage on the Holland Metropole stand over the three days of the fair.  

The recent floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought home just how important it is to tackle climate change, adapt to it and to deal with excess water caused by increasingly heavy rainfall.

Across the Dutch real estate sector, climate change targets are becoming increasingly important and the themes of circular construction, carbon emission reduction and water management are at the forefront of the Holland Metropole approach, whether local authority, developer or investor.

‘We integrate climate adaptation into the area, not at the level of individual buildings. Water, for example, is not a threat but an opportunity to devise and realise distinctive environments with the ability to capture and buffer water,’ says Ronald Huikeshoven, chief executive of developer AM.

Timber too has an important role to play in construction of the future. Experts have calculated, for example, that if the one million new homes which the Netherlands will need by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

‘Industrialisation allows the construction sector to offer a speedy way of making sure the housing supply meets demand. Wood is light and easy to work with, making it extremely suitable for such processes,’ says Wouter Disseldorp, concept developer at VORM.

Much too depends on people seeing the advantages of timber. ‘We try to persuade our clients to go for wood, and while lots of people talk about it, they have to actually take the plunge, rather than say it is all too difficult. Of course, a building is never 100% wood, but it would be an enormous step forward if we got most of the concrete out of a building,’ says Edward Schuurmans, a partner at architects KCAP.

This year, Expo Real runs from October 11 to 13, offering a networking platform to some 1,200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The 23rd edition of the trade fair is taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, both of which have a leading role across the conference programme. In total, 121 discussion panels, speeches, forums and other events will take place across the seven halls of the Messe München venue during the three-day fair.

To find out more about the way the Holland Metropole partners are tackling climate change, as well as the great range of investment opportunities on offer throughout the region, please visit them at stand A2.130.

Read more

Dutch government to invest €1bn in new housing over 10 years

The Dutch government is to spend €1bn over the next 10 years to stimulate the supply of new housing, to reduce the shortage of affordable rental housing and create more options for first time buyers.

The plan was included in the coalition government’s 2022 spending plans, which were published on September 21, and highlights the urgency of the current situation, ministers say.

Details of how the money will be spent have not yet been published and it is likely that the next cabinet will take the lead. The current cabinet is operating in a caretaker capacity while a new coalition is put together following the March general election.

Action

Caretaker home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren said that despite advances made in the past year – such as agreements to develop major residential areas in 14 separate locations nationwide – much still needs to be done to boost the housing supply.

Research is currently underway, for example, into extending the points-based system for calculating maximum rents to cover property outside the current rent-controlled sector, Ollongren told MPs in a briefing.

However, she warned, ‘tough regulation will lead to greater affordability in the short term, but will reduce investors willingness to invest, and therefore impact on the availability of homes in the mid to long term.’

Debate

During two days of debate on the 2022 spending plans, MPs also voted in favour of slashing a further €500m from the extra tax which social housing landlords pay. There is, however, majority support to see the tax scrapped altogether and that too will be an issue for the next cabinet.  

Report

Despite the cash injection for new housing, it may not be enough to get housing development up to speed. In June, a report commissioned by Ollongren said that the next Dutch government will have to invest almost €20bn to facilitate several major housing and infrastructure in the coming years.

Without a significant contribution from the state, new homes may not be built at the rate required and they will be more expensive than planned, the report, by the Rebel research group, said. Several of the projects are located in the Holland Metropole region.

In total, the 14 projects in the study involve building 436,000 new homes around the bigger Dutch cities, of which 210,000 can be completed by 2030 and 70% will be classed as ‘affordable’.

One million homes

In February, an alliance of developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations said that one million new homes need to be built in the the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations said at the time they hoped their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Lagging supply

So far new building is lagging behind government expectations. Construction industry economic institute EIB says that it expects 63,000 new homes will be completed this year, which is well below the government’s target of 75,000 new build and conversions.

Nevertheless, the number of permits granted each year is going up, and has risen 30% since 2019, when new home construction reached a low point, the EIB said.

Earlier in September, thousands of people took part in a demonstration in Amsterdam, calling for more investment in housing.

Read more

‘The elderly form a diverse group who don’t want to move’

One way often mooted to help solve the housing crisis in the Netherlands is to encourage older people whose children have left home to downsize and free up large property for a new, young family.

However, it is proving difficult to set this in motion because developers, housing corporations and local authorities are not actually talking to elderly residents about their needs, according to Groningen University researcher Petra de Jong.

De Jong, an economic geographer specializing in housing demographics, has researched the issue of housing for the elderly for her PhD thesis. Persuading the elderly to move home requires alternatives that actually meet their needs, she said: ‘They need to be attractive and affordable, and people usually want to stay in the same neighbourhood.’

Urgency

While older people are often described as ‘occupying’ large houses, ‘as long as they don’t feel the urgency to move because, for example, of their physical limitations, then they don’t see the need,’ De Jong told NOS Radio 1 news.

‘Yes, the house might be a bit large and the garden a bit difficult to manage, but people are often attached to both their home and their locality,’ she said. ‘It has been the stage for many precious memories.’

In addition, elderly home owners have often paid off their mortgages, so the costs are low. ‘And aside from this, moving demands money and creates upheaval, so it gets put off as long as possible,’ she said.

This means the standard approach to housing for seniors is not enough to have an impact,’ De Jong said.  ‘They should be involved from the start of the development process. Talk to them and find out what their demands and preferences are,’ she said. ‘But don’t pretend to know what the elderly want, because they are an extremely diverse group.’

Housing targeting seniors in the Netherlands is often marketed at the over-55s.

Read more

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.

Read more

The Netherlands has eight million homes

Despite the shortage of housing in the Netherlands, the national housing stock has increased by one million to eight million over the past 16 years, according to August figures from national statistics office CBS.

In total, the supply of housing increased by 39,000 units in the first six months of this year, including both new build and conversions.

The province of Zuid-Holland, home to Holland Metropole partners Rotterdam and The Hague, has most housing – a total of 1.7 million homes. Noord-Holland, which includes Amsterdam, has 1.4 million of the total.

Single people

Given the national population is now around 17.4 million, the eight million figure means there are 2.2 residents for each home, compared with 4.8 people 100 years ago. Nevertheless, there is still a major shortage of properties, because of the surge in people living alone, the CBS said.

Amsterdam for example, now has 464,000 homes for its population of some 860,000, or fewer than two people per property.

One million new homes

In February, a consortium of 34 developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations formed a massive alliance to tackle the housing shortage in the Netherlands.

In total, they say that one million new homes need to be built in the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations hope their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Current government strategy involves realising 75,000 new homes a year through new build and converting other buildings.

Read more

Empty retail space could become 6,500 new homes

Some 6,500 new homes could be created by converting long-term redundant retail premises into housing, according to research by NVM Business, the commercial real estate arm of real estate agents’ association NVM.

The future of some types of Dutch retail real estate remains uncertain, given the impact of coronavirus on people’s shopping habits and the surge in online sales. According to national statistics office CBS, the online retail sector saw sales shoot up 86% in the first quarter of 2021, compared with 2020.

While supermarkets and food shops in busy neighbourhood shopping centres, for example, are doing well, the picture is less bright for inner city high streets which focus on non-food, NVM Business says.

As with offices, the high vacancy rate in some retail sectors offers opportunities for residential housing. Some 800,000 square metres of retail space have been vacant for more than a year and transforming redundant shops into homes is, says NVM Business chairman Sander Heidinga, ‘a very interesting challenge’.

NVM Business estimates that converting retail real estate could reasonably generate 6,500 homes in the coming years, but points out local zoning plans will have to be changed to make this possible.

‘However, many local authorities now realise that they need to change the retail landscape, because of the changes and impact of coronavirus,’ NVM Business says. ‘They are more aware of the need to tackle the problems.’

The finances do need to be carefully worked out because redevelopment is expensive and housing generates lower rent than housing. Daylight can also be a problem in dense retail areas, the organisation points out.

Last year, retail estate advisory group Colliers said that 10,000 apartments could be developed by converting empty shops in the 70 biggest towns and cities. And although there are problems with shape and size, 40% of empty retail properties do offer opportunities for conversion, Colliers said.

The province of Noord-Holland is also looking into the options. It estimates, for example, that up to 400 homes could be created in central Hoofddorp by converting redundant shops.

The office market is also facing a coronavirus-driven shake-out. Last year, some 420,000 square metres of redundant office space was either given a new lease of life or demolished, and 53% of it was converted into housing.

Read more

Fewer office conversions in 2020, but half involved creating housing

Some 420,000 square metres of redundant office space was either given a new lease of life or demolished in the Netherlands last year, according to a market analysis by real estate agents’ association NVM.

But despite the coronavirus pandemic and the mounting popularity of working from home, the total amount of vacant office space in the Netherlands remained around 4.45 million square metres, NVM Business said.

In 2019, 505,000 square metres of offices were either transformed for a new function or demolished.

Coronavirus

‘2020 certainly was special,’ said NVM Business chairman Sander Heidinga. ‘Coronavirus and measures to limit social contacts may have led to reduced demand for office space and lower investment volume, but both supply and returns remained stable… It is unclear if the wish to work from home is leading to reduced demand for office space.’

Over half (53%) of the office space which was taken off the market last year was converted in housing, 31% was demolished and 10% turned into a hotel.

In Amsterdam, for example, work on transforming the three Trinity Buildings office blocks in the Zuidoost district into 133 homes, most of which are aimed at the mid-market sector, is nearing completion. 

And in The Hague, the former transport ministry office complex, a listed building, is also being transformed in housing, for both rent and sale.

The government has set a target of creating 75,000 new homes a year up to 2025, to meet demand. And including conversions – such as transforming redundant offices into apartments – the total number of new homes created in 2020 did rise to 74,565, according to national statistics agency CBS.

Read more

Legendary living for the over 55s in Utrecht

Work will start next year in Utrecht on building a special residential complex containing 150 apartments aimed at healthy and mobile people over the age of 55, and encouraging them to stay that way. 

The project, developed by Holland Metropole partner Dura Vermeer, is in the city’s Leidsche Rijn district and will cover 47,000 square metres when completed.

The aim of the Legends housing complex, says architects studio Architekten Cie, is to contribute to ‘happy aging’ by creating new forms of living in which people can lead a fun, active, healthy and meaningful life for longer.

Some 50 of the apartments will be rent controlled, and a further 50 will be mid-market, with a rent of between €750 and €1,200.

‘Once children have left home, many people start a new phase in their lives,’ Utrecht’s planning chief Klaas Verschuure said. ‘The people who come to live in Legends may well leave a home which a young couple can move into… this is how we get the housing market moving.’

The complex, which is virtually energy neutral, uses sloping paths, stairs, galleries and bridges to create differences in height and encourage movement, and the apartments surround a private garden for all residents.

The apartments can also be adapted in line with people’s care needs as they get older, Dura Vermeer said.  

Read more

Major building projects need state support

The next Dutch government will have to invest almost €20bn to facilitate several major housing and infrastructure in the coming years, according to a report drawn up on behalf of housing minister Kajsa Ollongren.

Without a significant contribution from the state, new homes may not be built at the rate required and they will be more expensive than planned, the report, by the Rebel research group, said. Several of the projects are located in the Holland Metropole region.

In total, the 14 projects in the study involve building 436,000 new homes around the bigger Dutch cities, of which 210,000 can be completed by 2030 and 70% will be classed as ‘affordable’.

Most of the funding – €109bn of the €142bn – will come from private sources and local authorities will contribute €13.7bn. The rest of the money  – the equivalent of roughly €15,000 per property –  will need to come from central government resources, the report said.

The report includes €33bn for the cost of public infrastructure projects surrounding the developments, including expanding the Amsterdam metro system to Schiphol airport and a direct train link between Amsterdam and Almere.

It will be up to the next coalition to decide what what should happen next, Ollongren said in a reaction.

In February, an alliance of developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations said that one million new homes need to be built in the the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations hope their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Read more
Translate »