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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