VDL plans to build hundreds of homes on Welschapsdijk, between the A2 and the Beatrix Canal. A remarkable step from the high-tech company, which normally invests in a different way.
Of course, Philips also did it in the early twentieth century: building homes for the company’s employees. Nevertheless, VDL’s announcement can be called remarkable. Brainport companies want to contribute to tackling the enormous housing shortage in the region, yet few of the companies have so far shown that they want to take up the gauntlet themselves. VDL is emphatically taking that step. Although the company also says that this is a first step.
“In 2019, the Van der Leegte family – not VDL – bought the golf course at Welschap. They now own 90 percent of it. Since then, the company and the family have been thinking about what could happen to the land,” says de Miel Timmers, spokesperson for the company.
Timmers cannot say why the family bought the site. “The opportunity arose then.” It was not the intention at the time to use the land to house companies, for example. “There was no such thing.”
Since the purchase, VDL has been busy negotiating with the parties involved. “The municipality of Eindhoven has been involved in this idea development from the start and asked us to present our ideas on Tuesday evening. This was done in the context of the broad development of the urban forest in Eindhoven Northwest, of which the Wielewaal, among other things, will also be part. We are also in talks with the Van Abbe Foundation and Trefpunt Groen about the possibilities of the area. We want to have everyone with us.”
VDL had already commissioned research into the possibilities. “After the purchase, we had an area atlas drawn up,” says Timmers. “The possibilities of the area were mapped out. It became clear that the ecology in the area and the biodiversity were in bad shape. A golf course may look green, but it is actually a kind of green asphalt – nothing is alive. The research also showed that the area has a lot of potential.”
But apart from the fact that VDL wants to make the area greener and more sustainable, the company also sees other possibilities for the Welschap. “It should be clear that there is a huge housing shortage in Eindhoven. We would like to contribute to the solution for this, so this is a first step. Of the 100 hectares covered by the area, we want to return 46 hectares to the public space. But you can’t even call it a plan, too much is still unclear for that. At the same time, I understand that the drawings evoke expectations.”
It shouldn’t be very surprising that this remarkable project comes from VDL. Because the family business is not listed on the stock exchange, it has less to take into account the wishes of shareholders who do not necessarily have much ties to the region.
“I cannot say to what extent other companies have opportunities to start such initiatives,” says VDL spokesman Miel Timmers. “But it is true that we are a family business, and that means we can switch quickly. That certainly helps us when approaching such a project. On the other hand, a company like ASML also does a lot while that company is listed on the stock exchange.”
It is still much too early for more clarity about rents, target groups, a timeline, says Timmers. “For a timeline you really have to contact the municipality of Eindhoven, because the area is part of the redevelopment of the city park.”
“In addition, we do want to build affordable homes, whether that will be social rent or mid-market rent? Really no idea. We do want to have a nice mix of different target groups in the project. That is also the reason that we will not sell the land or any new construction, but will rent it out ourselves. So that there is room for everyone, from expats and students to VDL employees, you name it.”
It is not yet clear when the next step in the development will be taken. “But when the city council is ready, we are ready to take the next step,” says Timmers.
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez