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“Think of those trying to find a home”, housing minister De Jonge tells developers

Property developers and investors should start looking at the Netherlands’ housing crisis from the perspective of the people looking for homes, housing minister Hugo de Jonge told visitors to the Provada real estate trade fair earlier this month.
“Everyone knows someone who is unable to find a place to live,” De Jonge said at the opening of the 19th edition of the Amsterdam-based fair, where he met developers and investors and discussed his target to build 900,000 new homes.
The real estate industry has been highly critical of some of the measures the minister has proposed to stimulate the development of more affordable housing, such as setting quotas for different types of property in new developments.

The 900,000 figure has not been plucked out of thin air “by an over-ambitious minister” but is based on the real needs of a growing population, De Jonge said.
Despite industry criticism, the decision to extend rent controls and boost the supply of affordable housing will not be abandoned, he said, despite admitting earlier in the month that the sector is going through a dip as new construction slows.
Asked by one delegate if he had to choose between 900,000 new homes and extending rent controls to more properties, De Jonge said: “Not a good question. We have to do both.”

The government is also doing more to help people starting on the housing ladder to buy a home, by introducing starter subsidies and other measures, he said.
In addition, the person looking to buy a home is being disadvantaged by the endless legal procedures before building work starts and this too needs to be tackled, De Jonge said. The minister has already announced plans to slash the number of times locals can take legal action against a development.
“We have to work together,” the minister said. “Government and industry are not on opposite sides… and we are facing a gigantic task.”

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Rotterdam expands eastwards with 30,000 new homes

Rotterdam city council has drawn up new plans for a 30,000 home expansion on the eastern side of the city which officials say will make inroads into the current housing shortage.

The strategy to redevelop an area stretching between the Prins Alexanderplein and Zuidplein has been made possible by the decision to build a new bridge and fast tram service over the river Maas. Good public transport connections are an essential part of Rotterdam’s expansion policy.

The Oostflank development will also include shops, health centres, schools, sports parks and plenty of greenery. City housing chief Chantal Zeegers says that the project will help an ‘awful lot’ of people looking for a home. ‘But that is not the only aim the city administration has,’ she said. ‘It is also about having a pleasant place to live.’

Most of the residential development will take place on brownfield sites around four existing public transport links – Rotterdam Alexander, metro station Kralingse Zoom, the yet to be build station Stadionpark and the Zuidplein metro station close to Hart van Zuid.

Several existing residential areas, including Het Lage Land, Prinsenland, De Esch, Bloemhof and Hillesluis will also be expanded and renovated. In addition, the plan includes two new residential neighbourhoods, both of which will have plenty of room for water and trees.

“Building homes cannot take place without incorporating other functions and this is why the city is investing in creating parks and gardens as well,” said outdoor planning alderman Vincent Karremans.  Several sports clubs and three allotment complexes will have to move when building work starts but all will be found new locations in the same area.

The plans are currently out to public consultation and everyone is being invited to have their say. After the summer, the city council will take a definite decision about the new zoning plan. 

Read the details (in Dutch)

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Government signs more housing deals, pledges to speed up new construction

The Dutch government has signed agreements with six more of the country’s 12 provinces, outlining where new housing is to be built in the coming years.

Flevoland, Noord-Holland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Gelderland have joined the list of regions which have committed to facilitating new residential developments, as part of the government’s target of building 900,000 new homes by 2030.

The deal covering the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, is for 171,000 new houses and apartments – or almost a fifth of the government’s total ambitions. In Utrecht, the deal is for 83,000 properties spread across the province.


The agreements highlight areas where large scale residential construction can be built in return for the government’s commitment to speed up the development process.

‘We are asking the government to fully commit to solving these bottlenecks, where the state has a role,’ said Haarlem housing chief Floor Rodune, who also chairs the MRA housing committee. ‘That be done by rule changes or by providing extra financial resources.’

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge has already pledged to remove the bottlenecks to housing construction such as restrictions relating to nitrogen-based pollution, mobility, the shortage of electricity grid capacity and local objections.


However, the construction trade economic institute EIB warned earlier in March that eight of the 12 provinces will have to speed up their residential development plans if the government is to meet its target of 100,000 new homes a year.

In particular, Zuid and Noord-Holland, Utrecht and Gelderland need to do more, the EIB said. The five big Holland Metropole cities are located in these four provinces.

By contrast, the more rural provinces actually built more houses than needed to meet government targets. This, the EIB said, maybe due to the pledge to ensure two-thirds of all new homes are classed as affordable – either rent controlled or owner-occupied.

It is more complicated and expensive to build affordable homes in the central urban belt of the Netherlands known as the Randstad, than in rural areas, the agency said.


The impact of the recent provincial elections on the government’s housing plans remains to be seen. Work has now started on forming 12 new provincial councils, all of which are likely to include new party BBB, which supports high rise developments in urban areas rather than in green belt land. The pro-farmer BBB was the big winner in the March 15 vote.

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Housing minister plans to ‘take back control’ of residential development

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has published draft legislation which gives central government more control over allocating building land and to force local authorities to act if they fail to reach agreements.

The new law also seeks to ensure two-thirds of new housing is classed as affordable – either rent controlled, mid-market rentals (up to around €1,100 per month) or for sale at affordable prices.

The proposal is one of a package of measures aimed at giving central government more say in residential property development, in an effort to ensure that 900,000 new homes are built by 2030, in line with the government’s plans.

‘For too long we thought that local decisions would automatically provide a solution to the housing shortage but that is not the case,’ De Jonge said. ‘That is why we must restore public housing and take back control. This legislation will make sure governments have the right tools to manage how much, where and for whom we build.’

Red tape

De Jonge has already published plans to speed up the construction of new housing, partly by limiting the right of appeal against new developments. It currently takes an average of 10 years from the start of the process to completion but this can be speeded up by removing red tape and combining processes, De Jonge said.

In particular the minister plans to limit the right of appeal against a building project to one legal layer. At the moment, locals who object to the plans can go to court several times in their efforts to stop a development.

De Jonge also says more phases in the development process – from planning, sorting the finances, research, consultation with locals and legal procedures – should take place concurrently. This, the minister said, can cut the development process before construction starts by years.

Fewer permits

Figures show that it is becoming more difficult to sell newly built housing and that the number of building permits handed out by local authorities has also gone down. Last year, permits for 60,000 houses were extended by the end of November, compared with 76,000 in 2021 as a whole.

Insurers have also reported a 20% drop in projects. Construction often only starts with 70% of a project is sold and this is leading to further delays or changes to number and type of home.

‘Based on what we know now, it looks as if we are going to end up with 50,000 to 60,000 new homes this year,’ Gerlof Muntinga, financial director of Woningborg, told the Financieele Dagblad earlier in February.

De Jonge has said he is prepared to consider some form of financial guarantee for construction companies if they start building sooner and has promised to come up with an analysis before the summer, the FD said.  However, any move using taxpayers’ cash will have to be cleared by Brussels to make sure it is not illegal state support.

Meanwhile, De Jonge has said he hopes the new legislation will become law at the beginning of 2024.

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Fewer new homes completed last year, as minister pledges action on planning

Over 74,000 new homes were completed in the Netherlands last year, the highest figure in 10 years, but still far below the government’s target of 100,000.

The number of completions was particularly high in Zuid-Holland province and in Amsterdam, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

In Amsterdam, 6,800 new homes were added to the housing stock, taking the total up by 1.5% to 475,000. In the other big four cities, around 2,000 new homes were completed.

In Zuid-Holland, which includes the Holland Metropole partner cities of The Hague and Rotterdam, 14,500 new homes came on the market.

10% decline

The figures coincide with the publication of a new report by the construction industry’s economic institute EIB, which suggests up to 10% fewer houses will be built in the next two years, despite the government’s pledge to add 900,000 to the national housing stock by 2030.

In addition, the number of permits for new projects is also down, which will have an impact later in the decade.

In particular, the cost of building materials and high interest rates are having an impact on developers’ willingness to invest and legal requirements stemming from nitrogen-based pollution caused by construction are also slowing down processes, the institute said.


In January, housing minister Hugo de Jonge published plans to make it quicker to build new housing, partly by limiting the right of appeal against new developments.

It currently takes an average of 10 years from the start of the process to completion but this can be speeded up by removing red tape and combining processes, De Jonge said.

‘We want to break through the ‘not in my backyard’ sentiment,’ he said. ‘We owe it to everyone looking for a place to live to do everything in our power to speed up housing construction.’

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Minister publishes housing plans, market reacts

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.

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Dutch government puts the squeeze on rental housing sector

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s plans to reform the rental housing market include a new upper limit for placing rent controls on property at around €1,000 per month.

De Jonge said this spring that he would regulate the rents of more of the country’s housing stock in order to ‘reduce excesses’ in the market and that he was thinking of an upper limit of between €1,000 and €1,250.

At the moment, landlords have free choice in deciding the rent of property worth more than 143 points in the regulatory system. Points are awarded for amenities such as the number of bedrooms, whether or not the apartment has luxury bathroom fittings and the age of the property. 

The point total will now be increased to 187, which means nearly all rental property will be subject to some form of price control – as yet, it is not clear exactly how much. Just 9% of Dutch housing stock is currently available to rent to people earning more than €40,000 a year.


News of the extension of rent controls was heavily criticized by developers and investors at the time – partly because of the lack of clarity and partly because it would make some developments unprofitable. 

Dutch real estate investors wrote to De Jonge warning that new home construction projects will slow drastically if he presses ahead with plans to regulate more rents. Without change, just 50,000 new homes will be built every year, rather than the 100,000 that the government is counting on, lobby group Neprom told the minister in July.

Higher wages and the cost of materials are also having an impact, with a 9% drop in the number of new rental properties coming on the market last year. 

Rents are rising

Figures published by rental housing platform Pararius in October show that rents in the non-rent controlled housing sector in the Netherlands have risen sharply in the five big cities, and properties are let more quickly. 

In Amsterdam, tenants with new contracts are paying 10.3% more than they did a year ago, with rents reaching €25.24 per square metre, or an average of €1,766 for a 70 square metre apartment. 

In Utrecht, new contract rents were up 6.5% to €20.33 per square metre – or €1420 for a 70 square metre flat. In Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven, rents for new contracts now average between €17 and €18 per square metre, Pararius said.

Owner occupied sector

Meanwhile, figures from real estate agents’ association NVM indicate that the average house sold for 5.8% less in the last financial quarter than between April and June. The Q3 results are the first solid indication that the Dutch property market is taking a downturn, after years of strong growth. 

Rising interest rates in particular are reducing the amount would-be buyers can borrow. The government is also introducing tougher borrowing requirements for home buyers next year.  

De Jonge will publish his detailed plans for reforming the rental housing sector in November.

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Holland Metropole partners are squaring up to circularity and sustainability

In total, 34 Dutch cities, companies and organisations make up the 2022 Holland Metropole delegation to Expo Real in October. Together, they are showcasing how Dutch developers, investors and local authorities are putting the circular economy, climate adaptation, sustainability and social cohesion high on their priority lists.

This summer’s drought and last year’s floods have brought home how important it is to tackle climate change and adapt urban environment to future needs – particularly in a low-lying country like the Netherlands.  And there is growing awareness throughout the country that the big problems facing it – carbon emissions, nitrogen-based pollution, water shortages and surpluses, the energy transition and a shortage of homes – are all connected in some way, and that working together is a key part in solving them.

Investor Bouwinvest, for example, is supporting the Red & Blue research project, a five year programme backed by the government, universities and private sector, which aims to establish ways to make the built environment climate adaptive. But the company is also active in its own right.

‘The  effects of climate change are part of our risk models, We include climate adaptation programmes in our portfolios and we have added these climate risks into our investment decision-making process,’ says CEO Mark Siezen.

The Holland Metropole alliance, first launched almost 10 years ago, aims to promote public private partnerships at a metropolitan regional level, making sure the issues facing urban areas are put on the agenda and that there is enough executive and investment power to make real change.

‘We are creating a city in which heavy rainfall does not damage our homes and roads, in which you can find a cool place to sit on hot days and in which greenery survives drought,’ says Rik Thijs, Eindhoven’s climate alderman.  ‘Climate adaptation is not just about technical solutions, but about making Eindhoven a better place to live and work.’

The Netherlands has drawn up a list of targets for reducing greenhouse gases and eradicating natural gas as a source for heating and cooking in homes. On a national basis, the government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 49% in 2030 compared with 1990.

Developers and investors too are setting their own standards. Investor a.s.r. real estate works with strategic targets to ensure its portfolio is climate adaptive, taking four major climate risks into account: heat, flooding, drought and extreme weather

Ballast Nedam reduced the CO2 emissions of its owner occupier homes by an average of 69% last year, while Syntrus Achmea has cut the CO2 emissions of its residential portfolio by 40% compared with 1990. Others are working on innovative techniques.

‘As a family business we feel responsible for future generations, so we have opened a circular construction hub called Urban Miner. We focus on timber construction, invest in emission-free equipment and develop energy neutral buildings,’ said a spokesman for Dura Vermeer.

Architects bureau UNStudio, is developing new design strategies for adaptive reuse, transformation and extending building lifespan including smart, low-carbon and energy-producing building innovations.

Developers too are investing in new techniques and materials. While timber has now become the new standard, Ballast Nedam has branched further out and is using straw, a residual product from farming, as a construction material in its new ‘Nature Houses’ – with construction due to start in 2023. By using prefabricated straw panels, the company says it is able to build on a large scale and the resulting home is 95% biobased.

MRP has also turned to prefabrication. ‘We focus on modular building techniques and this means we can produce homes more efficiently and economically,’ said Bart Meijer CEO at MRP. ’This benefits both the planet and the consumer.’

To find out more about what the Holland Metropole partners are showcasing at Expo Real, visit A2.130.

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The Netherlands needs to really make work of shaking up the housing market

The Netherlands needs to increase taxes on home owners and boost the private sector supply of new homes in order to get the housing market moving again, according to the chief economists from the three biggest Dutch banks, and two professors of finance policy.

Writing in economists journal ESB, the authors argue that the government’s current strategy is based on ‘papering over cracks’ rather than boosting access to the housing market, reducing inequality between tenants and home owners, and tackling prices.

In particular, the government should focus on expanding the supply of affordable housing which falls outside the rent-controlled sector – which has a ceiling of €763 per month – and which is not owned by housing corporations.

They also suggest that local authorities and their residents benefit more from new construction by introducing a tax on the increase in the value of the land which takes place when zoning plans are changed.

This tax, payable by developers, would allow municipalities to finance social goals – such as more social housing – more directly than by setting quotas in development projects. This, they say, will make it easier for municipalities and project developers to negotiate with each other about land availability and sales.

In addition, more housing should be encouraged in areas where prices have risen the most in the past few years, because this is an indicator of future demand.

At the same time, the economists say more should be done to make sure the current housing stock is used efficiently. In particular, various regulations which ban home sharing by more than two adults who are not related should be overhauled, because this can ease the shortage of places to live in the short term.

They also propose making building requirements more uniform, in order to speed up the construction process itself.

Some aspects of the government’s current strategy, such as the plan to regulate the rent of a much bigger proportion of the rental housing stock, is not without risk they argue. ‘It may improve affordability in the short term, but it will not tackle the structural shortfall in affordable rental housing,’ they state.

Another area of concern is the fact that home owners pay relatively little tax, which is why the Dutch are keen to put so much borrowed money into bricks and mortar, the economists say.

This could be partially tackled by treating property as an asset to be taxed when the home is sold. To stop people borrowing beyond their means, which is also putting up house prices, the official recommendations on borrowing – currently 100% of the value of the property – should not be expanded and could even be reduced. Energy costs should also be taken into account in determining how much people can borrow.

‘These reforms are a break with the past and that is why they should be introduced gradually,’ the economists say. ‘But they offer long-term advantages. Home owners and tenants will be treated more equally, house prices will become more stable and the tax on work and other income will come down, so that households can spend more on other things beside their living costs.’

The article was written by Ester Barendregt (Rabobank),  Marieke Blom (ING) and Sandra Phlippen (ABN Amro) together with Arnoud Boot, professor of Corporate Finance and Financial Markets at the University of Amsterdam and Dirk Schoenmaker, professor of Banking and Finance at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

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Climate proof property is central stage at Provada

Developing climate proof property is the key issue for Holland Metropole partners at the Provada real estate conference in Amsterdam, which takes starts on June 14.  

With climate change becoming ever more acute, and the Dutch government unveiling new measures to boost the energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock, Holland Metropole members will be showcasing their commitment to tackling environmental problems during the three-day Provada real estate event.

The theme of this year’s Provada is ‘Act now for a better tomorrow’ with a particular focus on climate adaptation and circularity. Several Holland Metropole partners, including Dick Boelen, director of Dura Vermeer and BPD’s Desirée Uitzetter who is also head of Dutch developers’ association NEPROM, will be outlining their views on the big issues during the conference programme.

This year the Holland Metropole partners again have a particular focus on timber-based construction. ‘Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation,’ says architects practice MVSA. ‘We believe we must take responsibility, and using wood, which is a sustainable construction material, helps us to do this.’

In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, developers, investors and local authorities last year signed a new Timber Green Deal, based on a real commitment to the use of wood.

‘Awareness has grown across everyone involved in the real estate and development sector that building with timber on a large scale is essential if we want to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and speed up the supply of housing,’ says Bob van der Zande, programme director Houtbouw MRA.

Timber based construction is environment friendly as well. Experts have calculated that if the one million new homes which the Dutch government wants to see built by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

‘The built environment accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions. By using more natural construction materials instead of concrete and steel, and focusing more on circularity, the CO2 emissions driven by new construction can be minimized,’ points out Ingrid Hulshoff, portfolio manager real estate at investor Syntrus Achmea.

Existing property is also being brought up to new standards. Investor Bouwinvest, for example, has improved the energy label of the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam from E to A in three years and has made societal returns a key part of its performance targets.

In Rotterdam, built around a major river delta, the role of climate change and the transition towards green energy are central themes across all planning decisions.  In particular, city officials are looking upwards, to18 square kilometres of city roofs, which are being turned into gardens, water buffers and more.

This year, throughout June, intrepid visitors can even walk across a 600 metres rooftop walk built on scaffolding to find out more about what is being done. ‘We have almost 170,000 m² of solar panels; we have 360,000 m² of green on rooftops, but that’s still [just] 3% of the potential of that 18km² that we have,’ organiser Leon van Geest told ‘We still have a lot of work to do.’

Check out the Holland Metropole partner stands

Find out which Holland Metropole partner experts are speaking and where

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Fewer rental properties added to Dutch housing stock in 2021

The number of new rental properties added to Dutch housing stock fell 9% last year, when compared with 2020, as the mounting cost of workers and material lead developers to delay projects, ABN Amro said in a new analysis of the Netherlands’ housing market.

While most new rental homes were realised in Amsterdam, the total in the capital was just 2,965, and in Utrecht, only 676 new rental properties came on the market, the survey showed. In the Netherlands as a whole, almost 23,000 new rental properties were added to the supply side.

ABN Amro analyst Casper Wolf says there is a link between the situation in the five Holland Metropole cities and smaller urban conurbations, where the amount of new housing is increasing more rapidly.

‘Rijswijk, Zoeterwoude and Dordrecht all show considerable increases in the amount of new rental property,’ he said. ‘Nieuwegein has become the alternative for people who cannot afford Utrecht.’

Skilled workers

Developers, who have been faced with delays and cancelled projects because of efforts to reduce nitrogen-based pollution, are now counting other costs as well, Wolf said. It has become more difficult and expensive to find skilled workers, building material has become more expensive and land prices are also going up.

‘The price of land rose to a record €530 per square metre in the first months of 2022,’ Wolf said. ‘That is up 9.5% on a year ago.’

Government measures, such as the increase in the property transfer tax for investors, are also making developers more reluctant to take the plunge, Wolf said. ‘Government policies that intervene in the housing market plus renewed competition from Airbnb is making investing and renting out in the non rent-controlled sector less attractive, or sometimes even impossible.’

Ownership restrictions

Other measures to help local councils boost the supply of affordable homes are also having an impact. Local authorities are now allowed to designate new developments as ‘owner occupier only’ and Arnhem, for example, has introduced this for properties valued at up to €325,000 in 20 of its 24 residential areas.

Rotterdam has introduced similar regulations in 16 residential areas, with a limit of €355,000.

‘This measure is advantageous to first time buyers but is a problem for people looking to rent in the free sector because investors are staying away,’ Wolf said. Investors are no longer competing with private buyers for cheaper property but this is resulting in fewer rental properties for people who cannot get a mortgage but who earn too much to rent social housing, he said.

All this, says Wolf, means rental prices are likely to rise still further in the short term.

‘If the government’s ambitions to build 100,000 homes a year are achieved, this will probably reduce the pressure on the free sector in the longer term,’ he says.

Rental increases

Last year, landlords operating in the non rent-controlled sector agreed to limit rent rises to the rate of inflation from the previous year plus 1%. This means rents are likely to rise 3.3% this year but could be significantly higher in 2023, because of the current high rate of inflation, the ABN Amro report showed.

However, housing minister Hugo de Jonge said in April that this strategy could lead to problems for tenants, given the soaring rate of inflation, especially when coupled with higher energy bills.

Instead the minister plans to set a maximum increase for so-called free sector rents – properties which are more expensive than the €763 per month social housing sector limit. He already has this right for social housing.

The government has pledged to increase the number of properties for rent outside the social housing sector, particularly mid-market rentals of up to €1,000 per month. Currently, 57% of the Dutch housing stock is owner occupied, 33% is rent controlled and just 9% is available for higher earners who wish to rent.

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‘The Netherlands has plenty of room to build new homes’

The Dutch government’s chief architect has said that hundreds of thousands of new homes can be built in Dutch towns and cities by boosting the density of developments, rather than expanding into green belt land.

Francesco Veenstra told the Telegraaf in an interview that many urban areas still have land available and that developing brownfield sites will ‘also improve the living environment, and keep the local baker and butcher in business’.

The Dutch government has set a target of building one million new homes by 2030 and many of them will be built in large new residential developments outside city centres.

‘Of course you also have to build new neighbourhoods, but you can also build and renovate in existing urban environments,’ Veenstra told the paper. The architect will have a key role in advising housing minister Hugo de Jonge as he puts his plans into action.

Shrinking households

One reason for the current shortage of homes is the fact that households are shrinking, even though the population is expanding. ‘At the beginning of the last century the average household was made up of five people and at the moment it is 2.1,’ Veenstra points out. ‘This means that more than twice as many homes are needed for the same number of people and this is a problem that will only get worse.’

The 2008 financial crisis was another problem because many building firms went bust at that time and the construction of new residential property almost halved. Today, the shortage of workers is a major issue, and the government has said prefabrication is likely to have a role in solving the current crisis.

Veenstra said he is hopeful that the building process can be made faster. ‘But we need to act on a wide front,’ he said. ‘We need to produce many different types of homes, using quality prefabrication and good craftsmen. We must also repurpose existing real estate such as office buildings, old school buildings and factories.’


The government advisor also warned about repeating the problems of earlier mass residential building programmes, in which the infrastructure was dealt with as an afterthought. ‘I believe in densification of city districts,’ he said. ‘Over the past fifteen years, we have been able to realize a quarter of a million homes without impacting on green areas. It is a process that we must continue, because there is still a lot of space in our cities and towns.’

The Netherlands, he said, is still far from full. ‘There is plenty of room, but it is just in different places to where people are looking now,’ he said. The border region around Delfzijl in Groningen and Maastricht or Vlissingen have plenty of opportunity for development, as long as the jobs and the transport infrastructure is there, Veenstra said.

‘If we make plans to build outside the main urban conurbations, we will have to make sure there are jobs,’ he said. ‘And we might also have to travel a little longer between home and work.’

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The Netherlands needs one million new homes, or does it?

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.

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Holland Metropole heads for MIPIM

The Holland Metropole alliance will be taking part in the MIPM real estate trade fair in Cannes from March 15 to 18, with a heavyweight delegation of top tier cities, developers and investors. Several leading Dutch architects’ bureaus and innovative start-ups are also part of the package – providing a complete cross section of the Dutch real estate sector.  

This year, the Holland Metropole focus is on climate change and timber-based construction and MIPIM visitors will be able to find out more about the cutting edge work by the 14 alliance partners at the stand (C19.E).

The Netherlands also has a new government, and MIPIM visitors can to catch up on the latest measures to boost the supply of affordable housing at a national level, and find out more about the implications of the plans for international developers and investors.


Last year’s floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought home just how important it is to tackle climate change and to deal with excess water caused by increasingly heavy rainfall. After all, with some 25% of the Netherlands below sea level, the country as a whole is vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels and excess river water.

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.

Timber-based construction is also top of the to-do list of every climate-aware developer and real estate investor.


In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, developers, investors and local authorities have signed a new Timber Green Deal, based on a real commitment to the use of wood. 

‘Awareness has grown across everyone involved in the real estate and development sector that building with timber on a large scale is essential if we want to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and speed up the supply of housing,’ says Bob van der Zande, programme director Houtbouw MRA.

Timber based construction is environment friendly as well. 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.


You can find out more about what Dutch cities and companies are doing in both these key areas by visiting the Holland Metropole stand.

As usual, the stand (C19.E) will also have a wide range of facilities on offer, from a bar and catering to charging points for mobiles and laptops, as well as plenty of room for networking and one-to-one meetings.

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Housing permits reach a record, as new minister ‘takes back control’

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 Dutch national statistics office CBS.

One third of the licences were given to build rental housing while the rest is made up of properties for sale – across all price ranges. Most new permits – 19,000 – were handed out in the province of Zuid Holland, which includes Holland Metropole partners Rotterdam and The Hague.

‘The number of permits is an indicator of the number of new homes which will be built in the coming years, but the average time to build after licencing is around two years,’ the CBS said. The total does not include new homes which are realised from repurposing other buildings, such as empty offices or schools.

Government plans

The figures were published just as new housing minister Hugo de Jonge outlined his plans to realise one million new homes over the next 10 years.

The minister told MPs earlier this month that he is currently working on a National Housing and Construction Agenda which will have six underlying themes: construction, housing for focus groups and the elderly, quality of life, sustainability, spatial planning and choices for the future.

‘This programmatic approach focuses more directly on concrete goals, monitoring and control so that the ministry can make sound agreements with everyone involved and to ensure everyone takes their fair share in solving public housing and planning issues,’ the minister told MPs.

Developers and investors have been calling on the government to take a more coordinating role in the provision of more residential housing for some time. De Jonge said earlier that he wants to speed up procedures and cut red tape. 


The raw plan covering how the government intends to speed up construction will be presented in mid March, while in early April, the focus will be on housing for special groups such as the elderly and students. Later, attention will switch to affordable housing – both to buy and to rent – and the government is already committed to introducing more restrictions on private landlords. 

‘I want the government to take back control again with regard to this fundamental right to housing, as well as in the field of spatial planning,’ De Jonge said in a briefing to MPs.

The government’s role in recent years has become too small and for too long people have believed that the market would automatically provide a solution, he said. ‘It is all the more important to take control now because of the enormous shortage [of housing].’

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Supply continues to shrink as housing market pressures intensify

Figures from the Dutch real estate agents’ association NVM show that the supply of housing in the Netherlands continues to shrink, with 23% fewer houses changing hands in the final quarter of 2021, when compared with the year-earlier period.

At the same time, the average price of an existing home rose almost 21% to €438,000 while for new builds, the increase was 14%, to €466,000. Some 80% sold for more than the asking price.

‘Homeowners are not putting their property up for sale without the prospect of finding another suitable one,’ NVM chairman Onno Hoes said. ‘The completion and realisation of new construction is stagnating… which is why we need to increase the volume of new construction quickly.’

According to NVM figures, just 8,800 new homes were put on the market in the final quarter of 2021, down 22% on 2020 and the lowest figure since 2013. Of them, 40% cost more than €500,000 and around one thousand more than €1m.


Hoes called on new housing minister Hugo de Jonge to set up what he called a “Construction Stimulation Team” which would include a wide range of organisations from across the real estate and public sector, and which would support the minister constructively with advice and help accelerate the construction process.

The new cabinet has set a target of building 100,000 new homes every year in an effort to meet demand. ‘People have to be able to count on the security of having their own home,’ De Jonge said in a ministry video message.

Economists point out that even if the government’s plans are realized, new homes are not built overnight and there will be little impact in the short term.


Real estate agent Lana Gerssen, who heads the NVM’s residential section, said that certain groups are already being blamed for the current shortage of homes. ‘Pensioners are being told [they are a problem] because they do not want to move,’ she said. ‘But that is too easy. There are no homes on offer which are suitable for this group.’

Gerssen said there is a role for the real estate sector in solving this, by mapping supply and demand. ‘This will enable us to help local, regional and national government with their housing policy issues,’ she said.

Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has already welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective, as long as he has a proper coordinating role across all the government departments involved in the process.

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Dutch housing market challenge has ‘no quick fix’, says new minister

New Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has described the challenge he faces to increase the number of affordable homes in the Netherlands as ‘considerable’ and says that there is no quick fix.

De Jonge, the first minister appointed to focus purely on the housing market in 10 years, told MPs during his first debate on the government’s plans that he intends to take a coordinating role in solving the problem.

‘For too long we have thought that the market can solve things,’ he said.

The new government has pledged to increase the housing stock in the Netherlands by one million units by 2030 and to take a number of other steps to boost the supply of more affordable rental and owner-occupier homes.

‘If we are convinced that the government should be more involved, then we have to have the instruments at our disposal to realise more housing,’ he said.

Red tape

First of all, the government plans to make it easier to actually build a house. It currently takes around seven years from start to finish, with planning and permissions taking an average of five. ‘We have to do something to speed up the procedures,’ De Jonge said.

Prefabrication and standardization will also have a role to play, he said. ‘It might sound boring, to have all the same sorts of houses, but that is no longer the case.’.

Research by construction sector lobby group Cobouw and the Follow The Money news platform suggests that many of the housing units scheduled to be built up to 2025 will never materialize because there is no uniform overview of which plans are realistic and which have not yet been approved.

Only 400,000 of the 1.2 million homes currently being planned are actually confirmed because of the different definitions used by local authorities, FTM said.

For example, in Noord Holland province, a project is considered to be ‘hard’ if the local authority votes in favour of the zoning plan. But in Overijssel, a project is only confirmed if the zoning plan has been declared to be final.

Coen van Rooyen, director of residential construction lobby group WoningbouwersNL told the regional paper De Stentor that all housing projects should be collected together in a single website.

‘Then you can see what plans there are, from those at the very early stage to completion,’ he said. ‘If nothing happens on a project for six months then an alarm should go off and the minister should be able to contact the local planning chief and find out what is going on.’

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Hugo de Jonge to take charge of housing crisis for new Dutch government

As expected, the new Dutch government has a specialised minister for housing, who will be charged with solving the country’s residential property crisis and boosting the supply of affordable homes.

Hugo de Jonge, a Christian Democrat who was health minister in the outgoing government, is moving to the home affairs ministry in the new role of minister for housing and spatial planning.

De Jonge, who has headed up the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters he was very much looking forward to his new role. ‘I am very pleased that I can take on this new task in such an important field,’ he said. ‘But I do have to learn the ropes.’

Complex issues

The new government – a four-party coalition made up of two Liberal and two Christian parties – has made tackling the housing crisis a key part of its strategy for the next few years and unveiled a wide range of plans in the coalition agreement.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing had come from across the real estate sector and the new government has said the current building regulations, seen as a major bottleneck to development, will be streamlined. The government will also continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

De Jonge, 44 and a primary school teacher by profession, came in for considerable criticism during the coronavirus pandemic, partly because of the slow start to the Dutch vaccination programme, but was praised for his dedication and grasp of the complex issues.


Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective and that the new coalition agreement is an excellent basis for cooperation in the coming years.

In particular, the decision to allocate €7.5bn to infrastructure in new residential areas will help improve the quality of living environment, NEPROM chairwoman Desirée Uitzetters said. ‘The new minister will have a coordinating role in this,’ she said.  ‘In this way, the money from various ministries can be used precisely in those places where the return is maximised.’

Residential construction sector lobby group WoningBouwersNL, which includes several Holland Metropole partners among its membership, is also positive about the appointment of a minister to oversee housing market developments.

‘If De Jonge puts the same amount of energy into the housing crisis as he did the corononavirus crisis, then we are fully confident that important advances will be made,’ chairman Piet Adema said.

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Eindhoven takes action to prevent land speculation

Private owners wishing to sell property and land in the central Fellenoord region of Eindhoven will have to first offer it to the municipality, under new rules which will be introduced later this year.

The city council has set aside €50m to fund the project, which is aimed at combating property speculation in the district, which borders the main railway station. This, in turn, will make it easier for housing corporations to build social housing on the site and meet residential targets, city officials say.

‘I realise that this will anger companies which want to make money but if we leave the Fellenoord area to the market then we cannot guarantee we will meet our ambitious targets,’ Eindhoven housing chief Yasin Torunoglu told the Eindhovens Dagblad.  

‘Speculative sales and developments which don’t materialise are deadly. So we are bringing in the new rules to make sure this area remains affordable for the average resident.’

Eindhoven has plans to develop some 7,500 new homes on the Fellenoord site, alongside offices, and plenty of greenery.

The city is also planning ‘where possible’ to offer land owned by the municipality and designated for residential development to housing corporations ahead of the private sector. This too is aimed at ensuring Rotterdam has enough affordable housing, city officials say.


Part of the planned development. Illustration: Eindhoven/KCAP

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New Dutch government brings back housing minister role

The Netherlands is to get a new minister for housing when the new cabinet takes office in early January. The decision was announced at the presentation of the coalition’s plans, which have now been finalised, nine months after the general election.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing have come from across the real estate sector and the job is seen as essential for ensuring that the shortage of housing is tackled. That shortfall is expected to reach one million by 2030.

The new four-party coalition – a continuation of the current government – has agreed to speed up the current building programme, from 75,000 new houses a year to 100,000 a year. Some two-thirds will be classed as affordable.


In addition, the coalition aims to create 15,000 temporary housing units and 15,000 units through the redevelopment of redundant offices on an annual basis.

The building regulations will be streamlined and the government will continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

In new housing developments, public services and transport will be crucial and the government is setting up a €7.5bn fund to ensure proper road and rail connections to the 14 areas already earmarked for intensive residential development.  

The real estate sector will be encouraged to innovate and adopt circular strategies, and the construction of prefab homes will be increased.

Rental sector

In terms of the rental sector, social housing rents will be lowered for people on low incomes and increased for high earners living in rent-controlled properties. A limited form of right to buy will also be introduced for some social housing tenants.

The extra tax which housing corporations pay on their rental income will be phased out, on the basis of performance targets, freeing up more cash for new development.

Measures will also be taken to ensure mid-market rental properties remain affordable for tenants, and profitable enough to attract institutional investors. Permanent rental contracts will become the norm again.

A registration or licensing system will be introduced for landlords, to help local authorities combat discrimination and scams.

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Location is key to climate adaptive construction

Dutch planners need to take more account of the likely impact of climate change when designating areas for residential development, according to a senior government advisor.

Peter Glas, who heads the government’s Delta Commission on flood prevention, said that some 820,000 new homes are currently scheduled to built in parts of the Netherlands which are likely to be impacted by climate change, particularly flooding.

If the long-term consequences of climate change are not taken into account, this will lead to additional costs and damage in the future, Glas said in a new report. Water and soil systems must be given a more prominent role in site selection, design and construction and, he said, planners must avoid construction in areas which will be needed to implement climate adaptive measures.

Sea level

In particular, this means the Netherlands must not sanction building in flood plains or areas already designated to store excess water and there should be further restrictions on house building outside the dykes, he said.

Some 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and a further 29% is susceptible to river flooding.

Measures should also be taken to prevent any further lowering of the groundwater table. Introducing the concept of ‘groundwater neutral construction’, he said, would be one way of ensuring this. 


‘The flooding in Limburg has shown that it is not possible to prevent flooding at all times… and it is important to be able to cope with extreme weather situations which go beyond current design standards,’ Glas said. ‘We have to look more closely at where and how we are building.’

The sea level along the Dutch coast will probably be 1.2 metres higher by the end of this century than at the start, but the difference could be as much as two metres, according to calculations by Dutch meteorological office KNMI.

The Dutch coast is protected by a complicated system of dykes, seawalls and sluices built after the devastating floods of 1953 which left over 1,800 people dead.

Climate adaptive construction and water management has a central role in the strategy of Holland Metropole partners, and was at the heart of the alliance’s recent appearances at the Expo Real and Provada trade fairs


Ice on the flood plains of the river Rhine near Wageningen. Photo:

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Age matters: the real estate sector faces major challenges

Ensuring the elderly can remain living independently for as long as possible will be crucial in helping deal with the challenges presented by an aging population, according to both real estate and care experts.

While the shortage of homes for youngsters starting out on the housing ladder is a current political priority, there is an equally pressing problem at the other end of the spectrum which will require concerted action in the coming years, the experts say.

Hans Adriani, who chairs a government-backed taskforce on housing and care, told a recent conference organized by Holland Metropole partner Bouwinvest that 110,000 new level floored homes will be needed in the coming years, as well as 50,000 sheltered housing units and 50,000 residential care beds.

Providing this will require close cooperation between local authorities, investors and care institutions, he said. In 2020, just one in three local authority areas had analysed how to deal with the shortage of housing for the elderly, but now ‘it is a theme in every municipality.’

While developing more senior housing has a role to play, there are other challenges ahead, such as the shortage of care workers. According to elderly care umbrella group Actiz, the demand for specialist care for the elderly will only increase, while the number of workers will remain relatively constant. This too means efforts need to be made to ensure the elderly can remain living independently as long as possible, and that their wishes are centre stage.

‘The future of elderly care is at home, and some 90% of the over 75s live independently,’ Actiz chairwoman Anneke Westerlaken told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview last month. ‘We cannot continue to provide care as we do now… and this development is going to place enormous strain on patients, care providers and patients’ social networks.’

Westerlaken says the care sector cannot solve the problem on its own. ‘Society in general must be kinder to the elderly, and they too have a role to play, by maintaining their own networks as they grow older.’

An example of how the real estate industry can help in this community-based approach is the LIFE complex in Amsterdam’s western docklands, which is part of the Bouwinvest healthcare portfolio. LIFE, developed by Holland Metropole partner VORM, is a multi-use complex for the over 50s, combining age-adaptive housing units at all price levels, plus community areas, a restaurant and a special section for people with dementia. The aim, says Erwin Drenth, director Dutch Healthcare Investments at Bouwinvest, is to create an inclusive building where everyone feels comfortable growing old.

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No brainer: homes and cafes added to Rotterdam office district

Rotterdam councillors have voted in favour of a new masterplan to turn the Brainpark business district into a lively mixed-use area, with housing, cafes and shops as well as offices.

‘At the moment there is not much to do in Brainpark 1 after office hours, and this is a waste because it is easy to get to by bike and public transport, and is close to the Erasmus University campus,’ says the city’s housing chief Bas Kurvers. ‘So we are working together with the private sector to make this part of the city a great place to live, work, study and relax.’

The project involves building between 2,500 and 3,000 housing units in the district, of which 30% will be rent controlled. In addition, some 45,000 square metres of space will be available for both commercial and community functions, while the public space will be redeveloped with more focus on greenery and water.

The offices already located in the district will either be rebuilt or replaced by more energy efficient options and traffic pollution from the nearby A16 motorway will also be tackled with multifunctional noise barriers

Now the concept has been finalised and backed by the council, city officials and developers will start fleshing out the plans. If planning procedures can be completed quickly, work will start on the first buildings in 2023.

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Amsterdam to redevelop city centre naval depot

One of the last undeveloped parts of central Amsterdam will be turned into a mixed use residential area and park, with plenty of room for innovative industry, under new plans drawn up by the city council.

The Marineterrein area, close to Amsterdam’s main railway station, has been used by the navy since 1655. The armed forces are now moving out, clearing the way for the redevelopment of a large city centre site which is almost entirely surrounded by water.

The plans include 800 homes – a mixture of social and non-rent controlled housing and owner occupier properties – plus small firms and educational institutes. Most of the buildings will be no higher than 30 metres, but there will be an option for two landmark constructions of 40 metres high.

Some 70% of the 12.8 hectare site will not be built on and original buildings, such as the gateway and the commander’s mansion, will be renovated and repurposed. A small part of the land, including a heliport, will remain under navy control.

Amsterdam has now opened up the project for consultation until the end of January. A final decision on the plans will be taken next summer.  

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Amsterdam acts to stop property speculators snapping up homes

Amsterdam has become the first Dutch city to set out how it will stop speculators buying up existing property to rent out, when new legislation allowing them to do so comes into force next year.

City officials plan to ban anyone from buying housing costing less than €512,000 without a commitment to live in it for at least four years. The sales ban would not apply to property which is already being rented out, as long as that was for at least six months prior to the sale.

Some 30% of homes in the Dutch capital are currently in the hands of private investors – both developers who build and rent out property and those who buy existing homes as an investment.

But landlords say the new measure, expected to come into effect on January 1, will not help ease the shortage of affordable housing in the Dutch capital.

The private landlords association Vastgoed Belang says the proposal will lead a greater shortage of rental homes, particularly in the mid-market sector. ‘Councils are prioritizing people who want to buy above newcomers on the housing market and people who can’t or don’t want to buy,’ the organisation said in a reaction.

Housing ladder

The new legislation is one of several measures the government is bringing in to try to help first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder. The cabinet has already increased the property transfer tax for investors from January this from 2% to 8% and this would appear to be having an impact.

According to preliminary research by the Dutch land registry, or Kadaster, private landlords bought 10,384 homes in the six months to the end of June, the lowest figure since 2013, and the equivalent of 7.4% of all properties to come on the market.

One third of all houses sold in the four big Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht last year ended up in the hands of private landlords.

In total, 8.6% of the Dutch housing stock is in the hands of private investors, defined by the Kadaster as organisations or private individuals who own at least three properties, and this is the lowest percentage in Europe, according to Vastgoed Belang.

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Provada 2021: Holland Metropole partners highlight climate change

Climate adaptation and circular construction are central issues at the three-day Provada property trade fair in Amsterdam which starts on October 26, and the Holland Metropole partners are showcasing their own approaches.

In Rotterdam, built around a major river delta, the role of climate change and the transition towards green energy are central themes across all planning decisions, given that the pressure on every square metres in the city is immense.  

The city has recently embarked on a programme to make better use of 18 square kilometres of city roofs, which are being turned into gardens, water buffers and more. Even the roof of the new Doelen entertainment complex will become a ‘green oasis’, says the city’s planning chief Bas Kurvers. ‘The roof will collect rainwater during heavy rainfall and contribute to cooling if it is hot. Everyone benefits,’ he says.

In Eindhoven too, measures to absorb water and boost the amount of greenery are incorporated in every street maintenance project. Project developers are also required to include water management in all new projects through changes to local planning laws.  ‘Climate adaptation is an essential part of our residential housing strategy,’ says Eindhoven’s climate chief Rik Thijs. ‘It is not simply about the technical solutions for the challenges presented by climate change but a way of strengthening Eindhoven as a pleasant place to live and locate.’

It is not just the Netherlands bigger cities that are putting climate change at the heart of their strategy. Holland Metropole developers and investors are also taking a lead in sustainable project development.

Bouwinvest, which aims to meet the Paris targets by 2045, has made social returns as important a part of its investment approach as the financial ones. ‘Investing in reducing energy usage is not only a question of taking responsibility for the energy transition. We see it as a pre-condition to ensure long-term returns for our clients,’ says Bernardo Korenberg head of Sustainability and Innovation.

Vesteda has developed a tool to provide insight into the six most important risks climate change will bring to the Netherlands, ranging from a breach of the flood defence system to heat stress.

‘We integrate the sustainability performance of potential new acquisitions and large renovations into our investment decision process,’ says chief investment officer Pieter Knauff. ‘This is not only good for our tenants and society, but also encourages our people to come up with creative, tailor-made solutions in every project, to optimize sustainability performance, living comfort and financial returns.’

Syntrus Achmea, in turn, has drawn up road maps covering different scenarios for making its portfolios Paris proof, in order to help investors make more informed choices. ‘Our ambition is to become carbon neutral,’ says Jos Sentel, manager of Strategy & Research. ‘On average the carbon dioxide emissions which can be attributed to our residential portfolio are 34% lower than in the reference year of 1990, and our target is a 50% reduction, no later than 2030 and fully neutral in 2050.’

At VORM, too, the impact of the company’s role as a project developer when it comes to social themes is an increasingly important part of its future. ‘We have a responsibility to organise this properly,’ says concept developer Wouter Disseldorp. The company has, for example, been using wadis and water buffer zones as well as more low-carbon building materials to both head off and mitigate climate change.

This integrated approach is being taken across the development chain. AM, for example, sees water management as an integral part of area development. ‘If you include it at an early stage, water can be used to add quality, and not simply be seen as a hazard,’ says chief executive Ronald Huikeshoven.

‘As planners, we are facing responsibilities that go beyond delivering single solutions for single issues,’ says Irma van Oort, partner at architecture bureau KCAP. ‘We work with an integral approach to sustainability and draw up comprehensive concepts which will have a strong effect at every level, from climate-adaptive urban and landscape design to sustainable mobility solutions and construction details that lower the carbon footprint of our buildings.’

By incorporating climate adaptation into their projects, the Holland Metropole partners say they are benefiting both clients, tenants and investors, as well as society at large.  ‘In developing in a climate adaptive and nature inclusive way, we can make new projects resistant to climate change and contribute to biodiversity as well,’ says Edward Zevenbergen, director of projects BPD North-West. ‘We go for solutions which improve both the quality of the building and the location.’

Check out the Holland Metropole partner stands

Find out which Holland Metropole partner experts are speaking and where

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.’


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.  


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.

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‘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.’


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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.


‘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.

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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.  

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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.

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Homes are selling more quickly and for above the asking price

Half the homes which were sold on the open market in the Netherlands went for more than their asking price last year, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

The figure is another illustration of the mismatch between supply and demand for owner-occupier homes. In 2015, just 7% of homes were sold for more than the seller originally asked for.

The figures also show that underbidding is no longer the norm. In 2015, 87% of homes were sold for below the list price, but this fell to 38% last year, the CBS said.

Quick sales

In addition, the researchers found that houses and flats are changing hands much more quickly than they used to. Last year, a property was on sale for an average of just two months, compared with 10 months in 2015.

The research was carried out on behalf of the home affairs ministry, which deals with housing-related issues and is under pressure to increase the supply through new building projects.

One million homes

Meanwhile, the construction sector institute EIB has warned meeting the one million new homes target drawn up by developers, local authorities and housing corporations will mean building in the countryside.

Current planning capacity can yield almost 600,000 homes in the seven most populous provinces, but this means some 300,000 homes still need a location, the EIB said in a new report.

‘These locations can be found in the green spaces around the cities, where there are also good opportunities to integrate housing into the environment,’ the EIB said. Focusing on building in more rural areas combined with inner-city housing, the institute said, will offer better opportunities to meet demand.


EIB director Taco van Hoek told the Financieele Dagblad the bottleneck lies in the strategy to ‘first build in cities rather than in the countryside’.

Van Hoek told the paper that he hopes the report will be taken on board by the next cabinet which will be charged with putting the one million new homes strategy into practice.

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Rotterdam’s former post office is being restored to its former glory

After being empty for 13 years, work will start this summer on renovating one of Rotterdam’s most distinctive buildings, the former central post office in the heart of the port city.

The project is in the hands of developer Omnam, which is transforming the listed building into a mixed use project with some 300 new apartments in an adjacent high rise.

The post office, city hall and stock exchange were the only buildings in central Rotterdam to survive the bombardment at the start of World War II.

‘This is no ordinary renovation project,’ Omnam’s Inan Sade told the AD newspaper. ‘I am Jewish myself and I understand the strong attachment to a building the survived World War II. I see it as my own personal mission to give it back to the city.’

The design is in the hands of American architecture bureau ODA and Dutch firm Braaksma en Roos which was involved turning Amsterdam’s former gas works into a cultural and small business centre.  

The ground floor of the former post office, which first opened for business 98 years ago, will house shops and cafes under the vaulted glass roof once the renovation has completed and will be open to the public on two sides.  The rest of the upper floors will become a five star Kimpton hotel with 238 rooms.

Behind the building, Omnam is building a 155 metre high tower which will contain hotel rooms and 305 apartments, around one third of which will be sold to private owners. ‘We first wanted to build a 200 metre tower but we went down a bit to ensure the best balance between having enough apartments and fitting in well with the surroundings,’ Sade told the paper.

Sade has not yet come up with a use for the nuclear shelter under the former post office. It is, he says, particularly difficult to reuse because it only has one entrance and there is no ventilation. It does, he told the AD, still contain the telephone which could be used to phone the monarch of the day. ‘Yes, I tried it,’ he said ‘but the king did not answer.’

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Amsterdam poised to reach 2021 housing target

Amsterdam is likely to meet its target of building 1,670 new homes for the mid market rental sector this year, the city’s housing chief Laurens Ivens has told local councillors.

In the first three months of this year, work has started on building 1,694 homes in the Dutch capital of which 728 will have a rent of between €700 and €1000 a month. Most of the projects are in the southeast of the city, where land is in plentiful supply.

Plans are also in the pipeline to start work on a further 10,838 homes this year, which includes 3,064 mid-market rentals, Ivens said.

Nevertheless, Ivens said, the challenge for the second, third and final quarter of the year is to actually realise the council’s plan to build 7,500 new homes a year. ‘Builders and developers are still coping with coronavirus but the processes are, in the main, running smoothly and lots of companies want to invest in Amsterdam,’ he said.

Ivens wants to speed up the development of mid-market rentals, which are aimed at people who earn too much for social housing but who do not earn enough to buy or rent privately.

City officials have agreed that 40% of each new housing project in the city be social housing, with a rent of below €750 a month, 40% should be mid-market and 20% should either have a rent of over €1,000 or be sold to owner occupiers.

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The Hague tags 2021 the ‘Year of the Roof’

The Hague city authorities have declared 2021 to be the ‘Year of the Roof’, with an ambitious programme to encourage landlords and home owners to make better use of the top of their buildings.

The move, backed by the city council last November, is part of The Hague’s aim to be climate neutral by 2030.

By encouraging people to install solar panels on their roofs, for example, the city will produce more renewable energy and so become a step closer to meeting green energy targets.

In addition, the city is offering subsidies for people who install green roofs, using sedum or other types of plants – and a total of €600,000 in grants is available this year. Green roofs help deal with excess rainwater as well as providing habitats for insects, officials point out.

A similar project in nearby Leiden in 2020 resulted in the placement of 2,875 solar panels and 8,400 square metres of green roofs. The budget for grants was also three times over-subscribed.

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New home sales pick up with price rises of 8.7%

The price of new homes in the Netherlands rose 8.7% in the final quarter of 2020, in line with developments earlier in the year and with existing property prices, national statistics agency CBS said in April.

In total, developers sold 10,744 newly-built homes in the final three months of the year, nearly 54% up on the same period in 2019. This was the first quarter in which more than 10,000 new home were sold since the final three months of 2017, the CBS said.

Developers sold 32,200 new homes throughout the year.

House prices in the Netherlands are rising more quickly than in the European Union as a whole, the CBS said. In the final three months of 2020, house prices rose by an average of 5.7% in the EU as a whole. Luxembourg topped the ranking, with an average increase of 16.7%.

One million homes

Earlier this year developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants’ associations in the Netherlands joined forces in an effort to tackle the chronic housing shortage.

The group says one million new homes need to be built in the the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand – a call first made by the Holland Metropole alliance in 2017.

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

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Will the Netherlands bring back the ministry for housing?

The shortage of housing emerged as one of the main themes in the March general election, with parties across the political spectrum calling for a greater role for central government.

In addition, several parties likely to be involved in the next coalition government have called for the establishment of a specialized ministry for housing and planning. Housing currently falls under the home affairs ministry while planning has largely been transferred to local and regional councils.

Developers, investors and local authorities estimate the Netherlands needs one million new homes by 2030 and most parties accepted this figure in their manifestos. However, experts say, this can only be achieved if a minister for housing or spatial planning takes the lead to overcome the bottlenecks in local authority planning procedures.

State control

Putting together a new coalition – which will require at least four parties – will take several months, and housing is likely to be a key issue in the next cabinet’s plans.

Here’s a summary of the positions of the main parties.

The VVD emerged as the biggest party in the March vote. The VVD does not support the re-establishment of a minister for housing, but does support giving the state more control about planning issues.

D66, the Liberal democratic party which is now the second biggest in parliament, explicitly calls for a bigger role for national government in ‘achieving our major ambitions in terms of housing, nature and climate’.

ChristenUnie, the junior party in the outgoing coalition, has calld for a more ‘integrated approach’ to housing issues.

The Labour party (PvdA) wants action to tackle property speculators, and says there should be a minister for housing and spatial planning.

The Christian Democrats (CDA) went as far as to say that there should be ‘less market, more cooperation’ in Dutch government housing policy.

In addition, there is more acceptance among the bigger parties of the need to build in green spaces. D66, for example, explicitly listed a string of potential locations for new housing, including several in the Holland Metropole area.

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Government allocates €266m to build new homes faster

Local authorities are to receive a further €266m in funding to develop 45,000 new homes, as part of the government’s efforts to eradicate the shortage of housing.

The money will be used for 30 specific projects, and is the second tranche of spending from a €1bn fund to boost the housing supply set up in 2019. In total, nearly 96,000 new homes are being partly financed via the fund.

In total, funding was requested for 53 different projects. The successful schemes are based across the country, including Holland Metropole members Eindhoven (District E) and Amsterdam (IJburg), and several in The Hague, such as the ICT Security Campus project.

Seven of the successful schemes are developments around railway stations which, says housing minister Kajsa Ollongren, offer considerable potential. In other projects, former industrial areas are being turned into residential estates.

“It is fantastic to see how everyone is committed to delivering as many homes as possible,’ Ollongren said. ‘More affordable homes are desperately needed to give starters and people with lower incomes more opportunities in the housing market.’ The extra funding, she said,  ‘is a great tool to accelerate construction at locations where the housing shortage is greatest.’

The first tranche of funding, for 27 projects, was awarded last September, also involving a number of Holland Metropole partners in the Amsterdam region, The Hague, Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

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One million new homes needed

Some 34 developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants’ associations in the Netherlands have joined forces in an effort to tackle the chronic housing shortage.

The group says one million new homes need to be built in the the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand – a call first made by the Holland Metropole alliance in 2017.

The Netherlands will elect a new parliament on March 17 and 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 though new build and converting other buildings, but the target was missed in 2020 and the same will happen this year.

Greenfield sites

Much of the new alliance’s strategy involves building new housing developments on greenfield land, rather than focusing on small, inner city locations.

‘We are going to build a lot more homes in locations which are easy to develop,’ said Desiree Uitzetter, chairwoman of developers’ organisation Neprom and area development chief at Holland Metropole member BPD. ‘We are going to build mixed neighbourhoods to suit every pocket and every type of household.’

The size of the challenge ahead means that everyone involved – the private sector, local government, housing corporations and consumer organisations – will have to be involved,’ she said. ‘They are all participating, and that makes me optimistic,’ Uitzetter said.


Housing minister Kajsa Ollongren has not yet reacted directly to the alliance’s call but told newspaper Trouw in an interview that making up the shortfall in homes is a long-term project.

In total, her ministry has pumped €4bn into boosting the size of the Netherlands’ housing stock, she said.

‘The best way to eradicate the shortage is to build more,’ she told the paper. ‘That is crucial. The shortage is across the board, from social housing to expensive owner-occupied properties. We have flicked all the switches – tax, subsidies, rules and regulations – and done what we can.’

Actieagenda Wonen (pdf)

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VORM geeft invulling aan oud bedrijfsterrein

De gemeente Rotterdam heeft ontwikkelaar VORM aangewezen als winnaar voor de ontwikkeling van 167 huur- en koopwoningen op een braakliggend terrein in het zuiden van de stad.

Project Koer biedt woningen voor starters, gezinnen en senioren en heeft voorzieningen en veel groen in de Afrikaanderwijk van de stad. Deze wijk ligt dichtbij de rivier en is ongeveer 15 minuten lopen van de Erasmusbrug en Hotel New York.

“Zo kunnen mensen die net zijn afgestudeerd en sociale stijgers blijven wonen in de Afrikaanderwijk waar ze zijn opgegroeid’’, zegt wethouder Bas Kurvers (Bouwen en Wonen).

Er zijn werkplekken voor bewoners die rustig buiten hun eigen huis willen werken. Verder is er een collectieve binnentuin waar kinderen veilig kunnen spelen. In de parkeergarage op de Laan op Zuid komt een mobiliteitshub met elektrisch deelvervoer. In een bijgebouw van het complex, genaamd ‘Villa Residu’ komt een collectieve klusplek voor bewoners.

Het nieuwbouwproject KOER maakt deel uit van de ontwikkeling Parkstad, een stedelijke wijk met meer dan 1000 woningen en voorzieningen zoals een zwembad en een sporthal in het Huis op Zuid.

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VORM gives shape to Rotterdam brownfield sites

Rotterdam city council has awarded the contract to develop 167 non-rent controlled properties on a brownfield site in the south of the city to Holland Metropole partner VORM.

The Project Koer development is part of wider efforts to provide more homes for families, the elderly and starters on the housing ladder in the Afrikaander district of the city which is close to the river and just a 15 minute walk from landmarks such as the Erasmus Bridge and Hotel New York.

The project will enable people who grew up in the neighbourhood to remain living there even if their housing needs change, city council housing executive Bas Kurvers said.

The development includes one block with a transparent lobby where a variety of community activities can take place as well as communal gardens and electric shared cars. Residents will also be able to work together on odd jobs in ‘Villa Residu’, which will have a supply of shared tools. ‘Koer is about inclusive living with a Rotterdam twist,’ VORM said.

The Koer project is part of the wider Parkstad development, which will include more than 1,000 homes when completed, as well as a swimming pool and sports hall.

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More housing completed in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district

Holland Metropole partners BPD and AM have completed a new project in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district, which provides 144 homes, as well as shops, and a car and bike park.

The Gustav was designed by Rotterdam architechts KCAP, also a Holland Metropole partner, and is spread across two buildings in the heart of the financial district.

The northern building contains 96 studio apartments and targets starters on the housing ladder, with communal areas on each floor. The southern building has 19 studios and 29 large apartments on the upper floors, which have private gardens and balconies.

The Gustav is the latest housing project to be completed in the Zuidas district, which will eventually have thousands of homes for a wide range of incomes in between the office blocks.  

‘Realising 10,000 new homes in Zuidas is a lot and it is seriously going to change the way the area looks and thrives,’ says Zuidas director David van Traa

‘But it is not just about building homes – international investors, developers, pension funds, employers – they all need an environment that is hyper-mixed, to create an area that works from both a business and a social perspective.’

Zuidas is being constructed as a complete urban district and will include schools, a library and facilities such as a health centre and cultural amenities as the residential population grows.

Photo: © Ossip van Duivenbode

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Gemeenten uit Stedelijk Gebied Eindhoven en corporaties slaan handen ineen om woningnood te verminderen

Dertien woningcorporaties in Zuidoost Brabant en de negen gemeenten uit het Stedelijk Gebied Eindhoven (SGE) bundelden hun krachten en maakten afgelopen jaar samen een plan voor een standaard sociale huurwoning.

Belangrijkste doel: lagere bouwkosten en een versneld bouwproces. Het gaat om zowel eengezinswoningen als appartementen voor 1 of 2 personen. Hiermee willen de partijen meer betaalbare, duurzame en sociale woningen beschikbaar stellen voor huurders om zo de krapte op de woningmarkt te verminderen. De komende vijf jaar moeten er jaarlijks ongeveer 200 tot 250 gestandaardiseerde woningen per jaar bij komen. Ontwikkelaars Heijmans en BAM Wonen hebben de opdracht gekregen om deze sociale huurwoningen te bouwen.

Unieke samenwerking 

Volgens Bas Sievers, directeur-bestuurder van woningcorporatie Woonpartners gaat het om een voor Nederland unieke pilot. ‘Met deze bijzondere samenwerking hebben we de toekomst van de woningbouw in handen. Samen kunnen we sociale huurwoningen betaalbaar houden en krijgen we de kans om ons woningbestand uit te breiden.’ De woningen komen te staan in de negen gemeenten uit het Stedelijk Gebied Eindhoven. In onder andere in Helmond, Geldrop-Mierlo, Veldhoven en Eindhoven zijn de gestandaardiseerde sociale huurwoningen straks te vinden.

Krapte op de woningmarkt

De economische ontwikkeling in de regio Eindhoven zorgt de laatste jaren voor extra werkgelegenheid en een positief migratiesaldo. Terwijl de effecten van de Coronacrisis nog moeilijk te voorspellen zijn, is er nu geen reden om aan te nemen dat deze trend in de komende periode gaat veranderen. Veel mensen willen in het Stedelijk Gebied Eindhoven wonen. Dit zorgt voor krapte op de woningmarkt. Om betaalbaar wonen toegankelijk te houden, staan woningcorporaties voor de opgave om de komende vijf jaar duizenden duurzame, sociale huurwoningen te realiseren. Maar de bouwkosten, beschikbare locaties en procedures vormen op dit moment de grootste belemmerende factor. In de pilot Standaard Sociale Huurwoningen gaat dat anders en is het doel juist lagere bouwkosten en een versneld bouwproces.

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Councils, developers urged to act on senior housing

The shortage of suitable housing for seniors is a major issue across the Netherlands, and many people are finding it difficult to move to smaller or more age-appropriate accommodation.

According to pensioners association Anbo, the country has a shortage of some 80,000 homes targeting older residents, the Financieele Dagblad reported earlier this month.

Anbo says the housing market is currently too geared towards family homes. ‘Society is getting older, people are living longer and that means their housing needs are changing too,’ says spokeswoman Atie Schipaanboord.

One example of the sort of housing which could be brought back are hofjes – mini developments of small homes around a central courtyard, which were popular in the Netherlands in previous centuries.

Other aspects to consider include ensuring bathrooms are big enough to accommodate both resident and a nurse, and that floors are all the same level, Anbo said.


‘Many older people want to move to an apartment, but there is often very little available in terms of location, affordability and amenities,’ Delft University professor Marja Elsinga told the paper.

This means, for example, that people remain living in family homes, reducing the availability of property for young families. ‘This is slowing down the entire housing market,’ Elsinga says. She wants local authorities to give more priority to developing affordable and suitable housing for older people.

‘And that means [councils] accepting lower land prices and developers making compromises as well,’ she says. ‘If they really want to, they can do it.’

Dutch housing minister Kajsa Ollongren told the Provada real estate fair in November that the Netherlands needs to create 845,000 new homes over the coming 10 years.

‘In 2021 there will be more government money to innovate and invest,’ she said.  In particular, the government is working to speed up decision-making about 14 major locations for residential developing, which will involve 60,000 new homes.

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