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Column: Gifts to the neighborhood

December 21, 2023

Give gifts to neighborhood and accelerate housing challenge

"More than 900,000 homes must be added up to and including 2023," was the ambition of outgoing minister De Jonge. This week's broadcast of Nieuwsuur revealed that there is no understanding of how far we are from realizing this ambition. The reason is almost laughable, if it were not so sad: "The monitoring of the plans is not in order." Well if that fails....

It is clear that the number of housing units to be built is lagging considerably behind. Under the leadership of outgoing minister De Jonge, this government has tried to speed up housing production with "force and power". Even more subsidy (community money) against it in order to speed things up. Hopelessly failed. Why? They forgot that there is also an environment to consider. In fact, the delay in construction is mainly caused by objection and appeal procedures. This causes years of delay. "Force and power" is thus clearly not the solution.

If you, as a resident of a neighborhood, are suddenly informed that a large concrete block of new buildings is being built outside your front door. And if, moreover, there is no question of participation and you are not heard at all and are only confronted with a plan that is going to happen anyway, then there is really only one solution: going to court.

The "carrying capacity of a place," or the volume you can add, is determined by existing residents. Concrete collars, extra shading, wind nuisance, dense street facades, a minimum of greenery are no longer accepted by the existing neighborhood. If you, as a developer and municipality, are not prepared to really listen to the wishes of the neighborhood; are not able to incorporate these often feasible wishes; and then complete the drama by realizing only very expensive apartments, then I understand very well that the neighborhood sees no other way out than starting legal proceedings.

This is the reason why confidence in the government and developers has reached a low point. And this is more than annoying ... Especially since a lot of energy is being put into it by these parties to solve the housing shortage. The frustration and anger is everywhere and the pace of construction is lapsing into endless inertia.
However we turn it, building in existing city with existing residents deserves a different process. Indeed, to build in the existing city, the approach of all parties at the front end of the process must change dramatically.
If it is taken to build (empty space) then some must be given. And then no money for the smart ones who pocket government subsidies under the guise of "accelerating housing construction." These subsidies should instead be used to achieve more quality for all who live there.

In the context of the new Environment Act, we can no longer afford to see the existing city with its residents as an empty piece of pasture and on a collision course to get even. We must engage in dialogue with the neighborhood and give something back to the residents, with the thanks of regaining speed by avoiding legal proceedings. Giving presents to the neighborhood, that should be the new adage.

Fortunately, although there are developers, especially small young parties,who do this differently. And we too are showing withet SAWA that it is possible. Less building than zoning plan, places for residents to share, affordable rental housing and a green building with exuberant and robust biodiversity. Profits are minimized that fund these "shared values."

By contributing a portion of the profit on the development, we are making a positive contribution to the project and to everyone involved; neighborhood happy, developer and governments happy, because the project can move forward at an accelerated pace.

If we start working this way then we can ensure that we can deliver quality inner-city projects at pace for both housing seekers and neighborhood residents. And then by 2024 we can take a firm step to catch up with the backlog that we have accumulated in recent years under Minister De Jonge's leadership. We are putting that present under the Christmas tree. Here's to a good 2024!

NICE Column Series

With some regularity, Mark Compeer writes a column about what concerns, inspires, amazes or disturbs him personally and NICE when it comes to developments and current events within their field. Mark kicks off the new NICE column series this week with an urgent call to municipalities, corporations, fellow developers and builders to open their eyes and choose Paris Proof building.

Want to learn more about Paris Proof building and the NICE Buildings concept? Make an appointment with NICE. Mail to pr@nicedevelopers.nl

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