National gov’t to use state-owned land to fight housing shortage, nitrogen issues

The national government will more actively use state-owned land to help solve social problems like the housing shortage, shortage of asylum shelters, and the nitrogen crisis. Minister Hugo de Jonge of Housing and Spatial Planning announced this in a letter to parliament on Tuesday, Financieele Dagblad reports.

The Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, the central government’s real estate agency, is setting up its own development unit to help with housing construction, buying more land to help farmers relocate due to the nitrogen crisis, and has stopped automatically selling unused buildings to see if they can be converted into asylum shelters, among other things.

“Due to the major and urgent spatial challenges of our time, it is necessary to broaden the efforts of the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf,” De Jonge said. According to him, the government can do “much more” with its buildings and land.

De Jonge said that the Rijksvstgoedbedrijf will become a “more developing organization” and be closely involved in the realization of housing on state-owned land. The agency set up a separate department for this purpose, which will initially receive its own funding but is intended to be self-sufficient once projects start supporting themselves.

The first project for this new department is several experiments in the Flevopolder, where between 50,000 and 70,000 homes can be built. De Jonge wants the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf to “lead the way with innovative solutions” for sustainable construction in these experiments, he told FD.

The Minister also scrapped the previous decision to automatically sell the government’s surplus real estate. Just because the government does not need a building right now does not mean that “the property cannot be necessary for the realization of other government objectives,” De Jonge said. “The current housing needs for asylum seekers and refugees have demonstrated the need to have real estate in the portfolio.”

And finally, the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf’s agricultural land will play a role in the nitrogen crisis. Farms too close to nature reserves could move to state-owned land where nitrogen emissions are less of a problem. The Rijksvastgoedbedrijf will likely buy more land for this purpose.

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