Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has reached agreement with all 12 provincial councils on plans to develop new housing over the coming eight years, but developers have described the programme as ‘unrealistic’.
In total, the Netherland’s 12 provinces have committed to building over 900,000 new homes, of which two-thirds will be classed as affordable, the minister told parliament earlier this month. ‘We are faced with the enormous task of building a total of 900,000 homes in the coming years,’ De Jonge said. ‘This requires a joint effort from governments, corporations and the private sector.’
Most of the new homes will be built in the provinces where the five big Holland Metropole cities are – Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven. Provincial and local councils will firm up the plans in localised agreements in the coming months, including ‘the specific locations, target groups, rental/purchase distribution and price categories,’ De Jonge said. ‘With this approach, we are taking back control of public housing.’
The government defines affordable housing as property with an official rental value of up to €1,000 per month or a purchase price below the national mortgage guarantee ceiling, which is currently €355,000.
Investors have already warned that the government’s plan to regulate most of the rental market in the Netherlands will reduce rather than increase supply. And developers now say that the 900,000-home project will not achieve its aims without more involvement from the private sector either.
Construction sector lobby group Bouwend Nederland said in a reaction that it had many questions about the De Jonge’s plan, pointing out that most of the planned developments are still up in the air, thanks to nitrogen and noise norms.
‘It is a great ambition… but there are many hurdles to take to make it a reality,’ said director Fries Heinis. ‘Some of the plans are concrete in the short term… but the government must involve the private sector far more than it has done so far.’
Dutch developers association Neprom described the plans as ‘unrealistic’, saying that the number of housing units is partly based on ‘plans for projects in which the housing will not be completed until well after 2030.’
Neprom chairwoman Desirée Uitzetter said that building homes is becoming increasingly expensive, partly due to the impact of the Ukraine crisis. The 900,000 figure, she said, is ‘not based on really concrete projects, but on ideas about projects.’
‘In our view the private sector has not been involved enough in making these projects concrete and achievable,’ she said. ‘That is where the pain is.’
Meanwhile, research by the construction sector’s economic institute Economisch Instituut van de Bouw suggests the housing crisis would be solved if every town or village added one or two streets of homes to its housing stock.
Small scale projects in villages and towns have the potential to add 300,000 homes to the city’s housing stock, the EIB said in a new report. In Noord Holland province, for example, where 184,000 homes will be built under De Jonge’s programme, 200,000 additional homes could be built if every town added a street, the EIB said.
Many of the projects in De Jonge’s list are ‘large, complex inner city locations, which will first need infrastructure and area-based transformation,’ EIB director Taco van Hoek said. ‘It will take years to draw up the plans, realise the infrastructure, remove existing buildings, move industry and clean up the soil,’ he said.