Kronenburg in Amstelveen, a largely vacant office space under an access route to Schiphol, is to be developed with 2,500 study rooms and 1,580 short-term apartments for foreign students. Amstelveen municipality, student housing provider DUWO, project developers and educational institutions in the region have for years been committed to achieving this.
National Student Housing Action Plan
Initially, the construction plan received support from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Kronenburg also became one of the most important placements in the national action plan for student housing.
supervision of living environment and transport
But the Environment and Transport Authority (ILT), which is part of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, rejected the plans in 2018. According to the ILT, it is not possible to build studio housing on this site because Kronenburg is located in a LIB zone (Airport Subdivision Decreet), where housing is not allowed. ILT thus followed laws and regulations and said they would protect the residents of the future healthily and from noise.
No health risks according to GGD
Amstelveen municipality decided in mid-2018 to continue with the controversial plans and adjusted them. The municipality felt empowered by research from the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service, which showed that students do not experience any harm to their health by living under Schiphol’s flight paths.
Key area in Woodeal
In 2020, the new plans also received support from the Ministry of the Interior, which designated Kronenburg as a ‘key area’ to accelerate the housing task in the region, as part of the housing agreement with the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. This year, there was also a grant from the Ministry of the Interior.
The decision of the Council of State
But the ILT again objected, this time to the zoning plan ‘Uilenstede-Kronenburg’, because it would be in breach of the Aviation Act. The Council of State agreed with the ILT on 18 May.
Opinion of the Minister required
“The law prescribes that it is only possible to deviate from the rules of the Airport Facilities Ordinance if the Minister makes a declaration that he has no objection to this,” reads the Council of State. ‘The Amstelveen City Council has adopted the zoning plan without the Minister giving such an opinion.’
Student housing provider very disappointed
The student housing provider DUWO is deeply disappointed with the Prime Minister’s decision: ‘The purely formal legal approach completely ignores the fight against the housing crisis in the Netherlands. Flying is higher than living. It is the turn of the Minister of Housing and the government to put things in order, “reads their press release.
Student protest march
In February, student unions organized a protest march during the cabinet meeting. They made it abundantly clear that they found it ridiculous that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management was blocking the construction of studio flats in the Kronenburg district. The shortage of student housing in the Amsterdam region is dramatic and is expected to increase from 6,600 units now to 21,700 by 2028 if no significant additions are made.
Noise nuisance does not offset housing shortages
‘Yes, here the planes fly low’, says Myrthe Rikkelman, chairman of the Residents’ Association Uilenstede (VBU), who participated in the protests. ‘But with a housing crisis from here to Tokyo, the hassle of a plane flying over does not outweigh having a room. The Prime Minister’s ruling indicates that students would sleep worse due to noise pollution and that it would negatively affect their learning performance. As if students who have to travel for hours every day to get to their education are not bothered by it.
‘This is a real loss for Amsterdam’s student housing, because Kronenburg accounts for a quarter to a third of the plans in the last 4 years,’ says Job Vermaas from the student association ASVA. They prepare actions together with other study associations.