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.’
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.