Deploy buildings and land of the government to tackle crises, ‘feasible plan’

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Deploy buildings and land of the government to tackle crises, ‘feasible plan’

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge wants the government to use its own land and real estate to tackle the housing, asylum and nitrogen crisis. Housing market professor Peter Boelhouwer sees this as a feasible plan. “We’ve done this in the past.”

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge wants the government to use its own land and real estate to tackle the housing, asylum and nitrogen crisis. (ANP / Peter Hilz)

The Central Government Real Estate Agency owns 12 million square meters of buildings and almost 2 percent of all land in the Netherlands. ‘It is by far the largest owner of land and buildings in our country.’ That is why the government can act quickly, explains Boelhouwer. And that is necessary, ‘because themes such as housing, asylum and nitrogen are simply not moving fast enough, or not at all’. According to the professor, the government can transform vacant buildings or buildings that become available very quickly. ‘If you let the market do that, it will take more time.’

With this plan by De Jonge we go back to the nineties, Boelhouwer sees. Then there was the Government Buildings Agency. ‘But that stopped and they started to concentrate on purely managing land and buildings. And if, for example, a building became vacant, it was also sold and not used for anything else.’

According to Boelhouwer, the land banks, organizations that deal with the destination of land, are very important. ‘Because farmers who stop, you have to exchange them. Land must be purchased for this. Places where farmers leave because of the nitrogen nuisance must be able to relocate to other places or start a new business.

Own proposal

The Association of Dutch Project Development Companies (NEPROM) is pleased that De Jonge is committed to housing construction in this way. But the association did send a letter to the minister yesterday with an approach. ‘It is of course mainly municipalities, housing corporations and project developers who work together on area developments and housing projects,’ explains Jan Fokkema of NEPROM. Previously, municipalities had much more financial options to acquire land. ‘After the previous crisis, that has been greatly reduced.’ At that time, market parties also had more financial resources to purchase land. ‘That is also much less now.’

Buying land costs a lot of money and there are risks involved. NEPROM therefore wants the government to play a greater role in this. ‘With a land bank and financing of land – which is bought by municipalities or by municipalities and market parties jointly – the government could take over some of those long-term risks from us. And that would allow us to achieve a much more continuous construction flow together’, says Fokkema.


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