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Developers and cities urge Dutch government to take action on housing

An alliance of 17 organisations and companies, including Holland Metropole cities, developers and investors, have joined forces to keep up the pressure on the Dutch government to take urgent action to boost the supply of housing.

They say the Netherlands needs to build at least 90,000 new homes a year up to 2030 to catch up on the enormous shortage of residential property – which some estimate to be currently around 330,000 units.

In particular the alliance wants the government to free up billions of euros to help realise the target, some of which would be spent on preparing new land for development and some of which would go on readying brownfield sites.

‘Local authorities and developers do not have enough money to make such large financial commitments in advance and we are asking the state to help them with plans and guarantees so investors know where they are in the coming 10 to 15 years,’ Desiree Uitzetter, of Holland Metropole partner BPD and developers’ lobby group Neprom, told the Telegraaf.

At the same time, the alliance says new residential developments should be an example of how to build energy neutral and climate proof housing, and that good public transport and bike infrastructure are crucial. At least 50% of the new homes, they say, should be allocated to people on low or average incomes.

Earlier this month, the home affairs ministry published its own vision on the future of residential construction, saying that the Netherlands needs 845,000 new homes in the coming 10 years.

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Utrecht reaches for the sky with MARK

Holland Metropole partner Utrecht is developing together with KEES (Koopmans Bouwgroep (TBI), J.P. van Eesteren (TBI) and Stadswaarde) a new high-rise project with 1,125 homes in the Leidsche Rijn city district of Utrecht, The Netherlands. 60% of all homes will be reserved for people with low or moderate incomes or people with need for special health care.

The project, named MARK, consists of three residential towers ranging in height from 80 to 140 metres. The design is that of a vertical village with patios and green gardens on multiple levels of the complex. Residents can meet, relax and exercise in various places and levels in and outside the buildings. The complex will also have 3,500 places to keep bikes and shared e-bikes and 100 places for shared e-cars for residents to use. When completed, MARK will be the tallest building in Utrecht, outstripping the famous Dom cathedral tower.

Holland Metropole partners Syntrus Achmea and KCAP are also involved in the project.

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Speedy action urged on plan for 25,000 homes plus fast metro

Plans to build 25,000 affordable homes with a crucial fast metro connection on reclaimed land between Holland Metropole partners Gemeente Amsterdam and Gemeente Almere have been unveiled by two parties in the Dutch coalition government (D66 and CDA). As a public-private cooperation platform, Holland Metropole sees these kind of metropolitan plans as key to tackling the housing and infrastructure challenges in the region.

‘There are few places in the Netherlands where we can think big. And this area is ready to be developed’

Rob Jetten, D66 leader

The Almere Pampus project was first mooted years ago but shelved until at least 2025. Now the two parties – D66 and the CDA – have joined forces to promote the plan. They say it should be revived as part of effort to build some 300,000 new homes nationwide and help solve the Dutch housing crisis. The land, they point out, is already owned by the state, and that means work could start very quickly.

‘It is a great space on the IJsselmeer lake, with a view towards Amsterdam,’ D66 leader Rob Jetten said. ‘There are few places in the Netherlands where we can think big. And this area is ready to be developed.’


A fast metro link, preferably in a tunnel, is key to the project, Jetten said. Ministers have already agreed that good road and rail connections are essential for the region’s further growth and have commissioned a report into ensuring Almere remains accessible as it expands.

‘The Netherlands can show the world how to build cheaply, sustainably and in a modern way in Almere,’ Jetten said. ‘We can keep nature intact and still develop new public transport links to bring people closer together.’

Almere has been the fastest growing part of the Netherlands over the past 20 years in terms of its economy, jobs and population. The city has been created on land reclaimed from the lake in the 1960s. 

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Dutch housing completions hit their 2019 target

The Dutch national housing stock expanded by 81,000 homes last year, according to new government figures, comfortably beating the official target of 75,000 a year.

Source: CBS

Most new homes – 5,000 – were built in Amsterdam, increasing the number of homes in the Dutch capital by 1.1%. Holland Metropole partners Eindhoven and Utrecht increased their supply of homes by 1.7%, while The Hague and Rotterdam added 0.6% and 0.5% to their own respective housing stocks.

‘We have laid a firm basis for the target over the past two years,’ said acting housing minister Stientje van Veldhoven. The minister says there will be challenges to meet the target in 2020 and 2021 because of the downturn in the number of licences. ‘But I am working hard to keep production at a high level, partly by stimulating housing corporations to build more. I’m also focusing on conversions and more flexible housing forms,’ she said.

Last year construction companies handed over the keys to almost 71,000 new homes, the highest number since 2009, according to national statistics agency CBS.

The total is up 6% on 2018 and does not include office and home conversions, which according to housing ministry figures, will add a further 10,000 new dwellings to the total.

Between 2000 and 2009, new housing contributed more than 1% to the national housing stock but that had fallen to 0.6% by 2014 at the end of the economic crisis.

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Amsterdam, developers agree deal to build 10,000 mid-market homes

Amsterdam city council and a number of leading Dutch developers and investors have signed a deal to build an additional 10,000 mid-market rental homes in the capital within five years.

The homes, which will target middle income professionals such as teachers, healthcare workers and police officers, will have a rent of between €740 and €1,030 a month. The declaration of intent includes agreement that rents for the properties will rise by inflation plus 1% over the next 20 years.

City housing alderman Laurens Ivens has also agreed to reduce the price of building land if necessary to ensure developments are financially viable.

‘This statement of intent underlines the willingness of everyone involved to work together to stimulate affordable housing in Amsterdam, both rental and for sale,’ said Desirée Uitzetter, chairwoman of Dutch property developers association Neprom and area development director at Holland Metropole partner BPD.

‘We value the fact that Amsterdam is prepared to look again at its method for calculating land prices… to eradicate unnecessary delays to the development and building process.’

Desirée Uitzetter, NEPROM and BPD

Frank van Blokland, director of institutional investor group IVBN, said his members are doing their utmost to contribute to the need for new housing in the city. Holland Metropole partners Bouwinvest and Syntrus Achmea are members of the IVBN, and have been at the forefront of efforts to stimulate a housing development drive.

‘The agreement is the first step to allow continued investment in mid-market rental property in Amsterdam,’ Van Blokland said. ‘To meet the enormous demand for housing, we need a lot more building locations and, of course, good public transport.’

An integrated mobility plan for new developments is a key part of the Holland Metropole approach.

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Dutch house prices continue to rise, but fewer homes are being built

House prices in the Netherlands rose by almost 7% last year, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS and the Kadaster land registry office.

The picture across the Holland Metropole region is very varied, with Utrecht showing the biggest increase at 8%. By contrast, house prices in Amsterdam rose by less than half the national average at just 3.4%. At the end of last year, the average price of a home in the Dutch capital topped €500,000 for the first time.

The five big cities involved in the Holland Metropole project are all working towards increasing their housing stock to cope with their growing populations. According to Dick van Hal, CEO at Bouwinvest, the new figures show the need for further close public-private cooperation at a Holland Metropole level. Only then can challenges surrounding the housing stock and infrastructure be addressed. ‘The Holland Metropole partners are looking at the issues from the bottom up – from the perspective of developers, investors and locals,’ says Van Hal. ‘This is the way to build a sustainable approach to urban development.’

Yet despite the efforts of local authorities, developers and investors, the number of new homes being built in the Netherlands is forecast to shrink 5% this year. Not only have thousands of projects been put on hold because of pollution constraints, but the number of new permits has also dropped sharply, according to research by the construction sector economic institute EIB.

The EIB says that by 2022, production will rise again, with growth forecast to reach 7%. This would add 70,000 new homes a year to the Dutch housing stock, still slightly down on the 75,000 government target.

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Utrecht finalises plans for car-free new city district

Utrecht city council and a number of project developers and investors have finalised their plans for Merwede, a virtually car free neighbourhood on part of 24 hectare former industrial site on the banks of the Merwede canal.

Holland Metropole partners AM, Synchroon and BPD are among the developers involved in the project alongside the city authorities. The location, part of a larger redevelopment site known as the Merwede Canal Zone, is within walking distance from the main railway station and the medieval inner city.

The Merwede project has been several years at the design and planning stage and will have up to 6,000 homes, mainly apartments, when completed. The plan also includes schools, shops, cafes, a health centre and sports and cultural facilities.

‘This will be a city district for the 21st century,’ alderman Kees Diepeveen told the Volkskrant at the formal launch of the plans in early January. ‘We are going for greenery, greenery and more greenery. This is what locals need in a city which is becoming more densely populated.’

The use of cars will be discouraged, with parking reserved for visitors. Instead, residents will be encouraged to cycle and to use one of the hundreds of shared cars parked in ‘mobility hubs’ on the edge of the district. 

The entire Merwede Canal Zone is being developed in stages and will have some 10,000 homes when completed.

More on the plans [Dutch]

More on the area development [Dutch]

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Making connections: Holland Metropole keeps on building links

The Holland Metropole region is continuing to excel in terms of connectivity and infrastructure, according to the latest research by The Business of Cities.

Air passengers are a first visible sign of how special the region is and the three main Holland Metropole airports welcoming nearly 80 million passengers in 2018. This put the region ahead of Hong Kong and Singapore, and just behind the San Francisco region, the report said.

Passenger numbers have grown faster than in other regions with a year-on-year growth of just above 4% and, the researchers say, among regions of fewer than 10 million people, Holland Metropole may become the world’s leading aviation hub in the next decade.

The region is also an important cargo hub but, the researchers say, its super- connectedness stands out most of all in its internal connectivity.Its polycentric character means the region offers the unique ability to connect multiple large cities directly by rail. Other regions, by contrast, have inherited a pattern of growth around a single centre which has reduced access to jobs and other key urban assets,’ the report said.

The region boasts an average travel time between the five centres of just over 50 minutes (second only to Greater Boston) and an average speed of around 85km/h (third only to Munich Metro and the London region).

Holland Metropole’s special connectivity is also reflected in the fact that it is the only region among its peers to provide direct rail travel between all its major centres, making living in Rotterdam, working in Amsterdam and going out to the theatre in Utrecht a realistic option.

At the same time, Holland Metropole’s digital infrastructure platform remains very strong by global standards. Having a strong digital infrastructure boosts digital workforce skills, internet usage and access to smart services, so it is unsurprising, the report notes, that Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and The Hague all recently ranked in the top 20 cities in Europe for the number of people working in jobs in the ‘app economy’.

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Zuidas is alive and kicking with De Puls

Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district is to get more homes, offices and even a cinema in a new project on a brownfield side between the A10 ring road and the sports centre. De Puls, a development by Holland Metropole partner VORM, will add 56,000 square metres of space to Zuidas when completed in 2023.

‘Zuidas is becoming an increasingly lively city district,’ says Zuidas director David van Traa. ‘This innovative building is future proof and, thanks to all the facilities which will be open to the public, a big plus for the district as a whole.’

The building itself will generate its own electricity thanks to solar panels on the roof and the façade, and will be completely energy neutral. The complex is also built around the maximum use of public transport, bikes and walking. The car park will only be accessible to electric, shared vehicles.

A large proportion of the apartments in De Puls will be middle market rentals, helping to boost the amount of affordable housing in the district. ‘De Puls combines diversity, affordable housing, working and leisure,’ says VORM’s director Hans Meurs. ‘We are creating ‘common ground’, where everyone feels welcome and at home.’

Holland Metropole partner MSVA Architects is also involved in the project and building work is slated to start in 2021.

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