Archives for News

Dutch house prices continue to rise, but fewer homes are being built

House prices in the Netherlands rose by almost 7% last year, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS and the Kadaster land registry office.

The picture across the Holland Metropole region is very varied, with Utrecht showing the biggest increase at 8%. By contrast, house prices in Amsterdam rose by less than half the national average at just 3.4%. At the end of last year, the average price of a home in the Dutch capital topped €500,000 for the first time.

The five big cities involved in the Holland Metropole project are all working towards increasing their housing stock to cope with their growing populations. According to Dick van Hal, CEO at Bouwinvest, the new figures show the need for further close public-private cooperation at a Holland Metropole level. Only then can challenges surrounding the housing stock and infrastructure be addressed. ‘The Holland Metropole partners are looking at the issues from the bottom up – from the perspective of developers, investors and locals,’ says Van Hal. ‘This is the way to build a sustainable approach to urban development.’

Yet despite the efforts of local authorities, developers and investors, the number of new homes being built in the Netherlands is forecast to shrink 5% this year. Not only have thousands of projects been put on hold because of pollution constraints, but the number of new permits has also dropped sharply, according to research by the construction sector economic institute EIB.

The EIB says that by 2022, production will rise again, with growth forecast to reach 7%. This would add 70,000 new homes a year to the Dutch housing stock, still slightly down on the 75,000 government target.

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Utrecht finalises plans for car-free new city district

Utrecht city council and a number of project developers and investors have finalised their plans for Merwede, a virtually car free neighbourhood on part of 24 hectare former industrial site on the banks of the Merwede canal.

Holland Metropole partners AM, Synchroon and BPD are among the developers involved in the project alongside the city authorities. The location, part of a larger redevelopment site known as the Merwede Canal Zone, is within walking distance from the main railway station and the medieval inner city.

The Merwede project has been several years at the design and planning stage and will have up to 6,000 homes, mainly apartments, when completed. The plan also includes schools, shops, cafes, a health centre and sports and cultural facilities.

‘This will be a city district for the 21st century,’ alderman Kees Diepeveen told the Volkskrant at the formal launch of the plans in early January. ‘We are going for greenery, greenery and more greenery. This is what locals need in a city which is becoming more densely populated.’

The use of cars will be discouraged, with parking reserved for visitors. Instead, residents will be encouraged to cycle and to use one of the hundreds of shared cars parked in ‘mobility hubs’ on the edge of the district. 

The entire Merwede Canal Zone is being developed in stages and will have some 10,000 homes when completed.

More on the plans [Dutch]

More on the area development [Dutch]

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Making connections: Holland Metropole keeps on building links

The Holland Metropole region is continuing to excel in terms of connectivity and infrastructure, according to the latest research by The Business of Cities.

Air passengers are a first visible sign of how special the region is and the three main Holland Metropole airports welcoming nearly 80 million passengers in 2018. This put the region ahead of Hong Kong and Singapore, and just behind the San Francisco region, the report said.

Passenger numbers have grown faster than in other regions with a year-on-year growth of just above 4% and, the researchers say, among regions of fewer than 10 million people, Holland Metropole may become the world’s leading aviation hub in the next decade.

The region is also an important cargo hub but, the researchers say, its super- connectedness stands out most of all in its internal connectivity.Its polycentric character means the region offers the unique ability to connect multiple large cities directly by rail. Other regions, by contrast, have inherited a pattern of growth around a single centre which has reduced access to jobs and other key urban assets,’ the report said.

The region boasts an average travel time between the five centres of just over 50 minutes (second only to Greater Boston) and an average speed of around 85km/h (third only to Munich Metro and the London region).

Holland Metropole’s special connectivity is also reflected in the fact that it is the only region among its peers to provide direct rail travel between all its major centres, making living in Rotterdam, working in Amsterdam and going out to the theatre in Utrecht a realistic option.

At the same time, Holland Metropole’s digital infrastructure platform remains very strong by global standards. Having a strong digital infrastructure boosts digital workforce skills, internet usage and access to smart services, so it is unsurprising, the report notes, that Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and The Hague all recently ranked in the top 20 cities in Europe for the number of people working in jobs in the ‘app economy’.

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Zuidas is alive and kicking with De Puls

Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district is to get more homes, offices and even a cinema in a new project on a brownfield side between the A10 ring road and the sports centre. De Puls, a development by Holland Metropole partner VORM, will add 56,000 square metres of space to Zuidas when completed in 2023.

‘Zuidas is becoming an increasingly lively city district,’ says Zuidas director David van Traa. ‘This innovative building is future proof and, thanks to all the facilities which will be open to the public, a big plus for the district as a whole.’

The building itself will generate its own electricity thanks to solar panels on the roof and the façade, and will be completely energy neutral. The complex is also built around the maximum use of public transport, bikes and walking. The car park will only be accessible to electric, shared vehicles.

A large proportion of the apartments in De Puls will be middle market rentals, helping to boost the amount of affordable housing in the district. ‘De Puls combines diversity, affordable housing, working and leisure,’ says VORM’s director Hans Meurs. ‘We are creating ‘common ground’, where everyone feels welcome and at home.’

Holland Metropole partner MSVA Architects is also involved in the project and building work is slated to start in 2021.

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Holland Metropole is succeeding but more can be done: report

The Holland Metropole region is establishing itself as a unique multi-city region with the ingredients to succeed as a major player globally, according to a new report by The Business of Cities group.

‘The fundamentals
of growth, knowledge and infrastructure are in place and the region developing its innovation edges,’ said the report, the third on the region by the research group.

However, as the Holland Metropole evolves and matures, it is starting to experience more of the dynamics that the very top regions in the world are living through, and this requires even more focus, attention and innovation, the report’s authors state.

Mapping opportunities

These will require better mapping of the opportunities in the region, so that it becomes more visible to external markets. And while central government is providing short-term investment to improve the transport infrastructure, there should be more cooperation on investment in the regional transport system and in managing congestion around the big cities.

Housing policies too require alignment and by working together, the five cities will be able to ensure that the
region as a whole continues to provide opportunity and choice, supported by housing policy reforms and incentives at the national level.

‘Holland Metropole’s special mix of innovation sectors is more likely to be successful if supported by co-investment in urban amenities, infrastructure and experience in more of the region’s high growth job locations,’ the report, published to coincide with Expo Real 2019, said. ‘Continuing support for SMEs to achieve catalytic scale will also be essential to catapult the region into the top class of innovation regions.’

Download the full report ‘Fulfilling Potential’

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Developers welcome new cash for housing, but warn about economic swings

The Dutch developers association Neprom has welcomed the government’s plan to inject €2bn into stimulating the building of new homes but has warned that efforts need to be made to make sure that the sector is less sensitive to economic swings and that the money should not be used for short-term gains.

‘During the crisis, development at a lot of locations was stopped and investment opportunities for both the private and public sector were limited,’ Neprom chairwoman and BPD area development director Desirée Uitzetter said in a reaction.

‘We are still coping with the fallout from that, and since then no major new locations have been earmarked for development. This is why the sector has not been able to increase production to reach the necessary 75,000 new homes a year. So this effort from the government is very necessary.’

Neprom suggests spreading the €2bn over a 10 to 15-year period to ensure production is stable over a longer period. Developers say the money should be linked to regional investment agendas drawn up by local authorities, the private sector and social campaign groups.

‘Increasing the provision of new housing must be linked to investment in the necessary infrastructure, the energy transition, other measures connected to climate change and in strengthening the green and blue structures of cities and their surroundings,’ Ms Uitzetter said.

(Read the press release – Dutch)

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Interview with minister Kasja Ollongren

‘Meeting housing targets is a challenge’

Kasja Ollongren, minister

The main challenge facing the property sector in the Netherlands is to ensure everyone can live a pleasant and comfortable life in rented or owner-occupied accommodation, Dutch home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren said at the presentation of the government’s budget for 2020 in September.

The plans include setting up a €1bn fund to help the six big city local authorities speed up housing construction by preparing more land for building and so meet the target of 75,000 new homes a year. A further €50m has been allocated to develop a clean air agreement with local and provincial governments

‘Not only must we build more houses more quickly due to the housing shortage, but we must also guarantee affordable, sustainable homes now and in the future, often in locations where space is already at a premium,’ the minister told Holland Metropole Magazine in an interview.



At the same time, however, the Netherlands also faces the challenge of implementing a huge energy transition in the framework of climate change, which, the minister points out, will have a major impact on the housing market. In particular this involves phasing out the use of gas for heating and cooking in private homes.

In other words, not only must we give priority to house building but also to making existing homes more sustainable,’ the minister says.

 ‘The eventual outcome must be a sector that is even more resilient, in which corporations and developers, builders and the housing authorities work together in harmony in a housing market with fewer excesses and in which eventually everyone lives in a sustainable manner.’

In order to achieve this, the minister argues, it is very important that the public and private sectors work together. ‘Only by working together can we face up to the challenges facing the housing market. There is a clear role for investors, builders, municipal authorities and myself.’

Download Holland Metropole Magazine (for Expo Real 2019)

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Full house for Holland Metropole stand at Expo Real

With 33 full and associate partners, and five start-ups in tow, the Holland Metropole group is out in force at this year’s Expo Real trade fair in Munich.

The Holland Metrople partners include investors, developers, architects and planners and the stand will feature a wide range of projects across all real estate sectors.

‘We have so much on offer that it might prove a squash to show off all the scale models of the projects properly,’ says Annemieke Verwoert of the project team.

The Holland Metropole stand offers plenty of space for meetings and networking, including a bar and catering unit, plus a daily schedule of seminars and workshops.

Visit the stand in hall A2, stand 230

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MRP Development goes for modular construction

Holland Metropole partner MRP has decided to focus on modular housing to head off the growing shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector, pointing out that 95% of Japanese housing is built using modular techniques.

‘There are so many advantages to it,’ chief executive Bart Meijer. ‘It is quicker, there is less nuisance for neighbours, we can meet energy efficiency targets easily and it is completely circular. If we want to keep meeting demand for housing, this is the direction we have to move in. Compare the cost and ease of installing 100 bathrooms in a factory with installing 100 bathrooms on site, for instance.’

In addition, he points out, using modular techniques allows developers to meet government requirements on social housing, because it is cheaper than traditional building methods. MRP hopes to have its first modular housing ready to move into in two years time.

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The Holland Metropole’s big five cities are driving up the global benchmarks

‘Holland Metropole is becoming the multi-city metropolis to watch’

Greg Clark and Tim Moonen, Business of Cities

The past year has seen significant change in the number of city benchmarks and there are now well over 500 such studies produced worldwide.

And, according to a new report, Holland Metropole group is one of
the most frequently ranked
city regions worldwide, with more than 400 appearances
(in indexes and sub-indexes) across all five cities.

This, The Business of Cities report states, is partly due to the way each city borrows scale from the others, and partly due to its unique system of economic specialisation.

It is also particularly striking that across all benchmarks, Amsterdam has maintained its position as the third highest performing city region worldwide, overtaking Paris and now behind only London and New York.

Wider region

Over 40% of all benchmarks take into account the wider metropolitan and regional level of performance, reflecting the success of Amsterdam but also the appeal of the wider region.

Amsterdam may take first place in global studies such as the Healthiest Cities Index, Best Cities for Tech Enthusiasts and Qatar FCA Global Green Finance Index (for the depth of its green finance).

But what has really been important for Holland Metropole’s rise is that the region’s other constituent cities are also performing very well, The Business of Cities report states

App economy

For example, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Eindhoven all rank in the top 20 in Europe for the number of app economy jobs (ppi) and Eindhoven, Rotterdam and The Hague all rank in the top 25 global innovation hubs in EMEA. (Hickey & Associates).

Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven also rank in the top 45 globally for talent competitiveness (INSEAD).

‘Success is enhancing the identity and distinctiveness of all five cities, within a single compelling package,’ say the report’s authors Greg Clark CBE and Tim Moonen. ‘Holland Metropole is becoming the multi-city metropolis to watch.’

Download the report ‘Fulfilling Potential’

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