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.