Currently, the residents of the Hoog Stratum apartment building look out on a church. But if it depends upon the project developer and Eindhoven municipality, this will change. The developer wants to build a 45-metre-high residential tower opposite the apartment building.
The residents understand the need for housing, but the height of the tower bothers them. That is why the neighbourhood is taking action and is even considering going to court.
For a year and a half, e-mails have been exchanged, phone calls made, meetings attended, and the occasional council member visits the neighbourhood. All in an effort to prevent high-rise buildings next to Diagnostics for You. Yet for apartment dwellers Frans Smulders and Joost Verhoeks of the working group ‘No high-rise buildings in Den Elzent’ it feels as if they haven’t made any progress.
Not taken seriously
The two say they do not feel taken seriously, even though they claim to represent some 400 local residents with their working group. However, there is no question of giving up. “I only feel more combative,” says Joost Verhoeks with determination.
They understand the need for more housing. They welcome the construction of 120 apartments and 45 student rooms. Only the way in which the developer wants to realise this goal evokes resistance. According to the neighbourhood, such a tall tower simply does not fit with the nature of the area.
“Then we said let’s put two alternatives on paper. You can put the same 120 apartments there, a parking basement, and the 45 student apartments. But then the building is only between six and eight stories high,” he explains.
But the feedback proved in vain. They have not yet started a lawsuit but that is possibly the plan. It won’t be surprising if it leads to a legal battle. There are now 24 cases before the State Council alone, threatening to delay construction projects in the city. That is a record number.
The city council is concerned about this. “We have huge housing shortages and so we need to build quickly. These lawsuits slow down the plan, it takes a lot of capacity for the municipality and it creates problems for the developer because the construction costs go up,” said Mieke Verhees, alderperson for Housing.
Moreover, it is a waste of time, believes Eugène Franken of EindhovenXL, a club that advocates growth and high-rise buildings in the city. “With previous objections, we have seen how the Council of State declared them unfounded. We’re in between two years down the road and it is all for nothing.”
Local residents also do not prefer a lawsuit but prefer talking with the municipality and the project developer to reach a solution.
“That is why we are giving an early message that the neighbourhood does not agree. We want to see if the proposed alternatives are feasible. If those alternatives turn out not to be feasible, we will let the neighborhood know,” Joost Verhoeks said.
It remains to be seen whether the first pile can soon be driven into the ground for the other building plans that have been submitted to the courts. There are large backlogs at the Council of State, so rulings can take a long time.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING classes.
This is unfortunately what happens when the person in front of the planning dept. at the Eindhoven municipality, is an Irish man that believes dense cities are the safest and best cities to live. He couldn’t be more wrong. So we will have more of these cases, where the single need of “building fast” will be in front of all the other true priorities. And if the municipality chose this person for this role, clearly they have one thing in mind, and it’s not to please the locals. The actual urban planning expansion of Eindhoven is incredibly poor, there is no regard for public spaces, dog parks, a supermarket, kids areas, things that make life better. You just have to walk around Eindhoven Strijp-S and you will see tower after tower after tower, and don’t be mistaken! The few empty areas that still give some breather to the neighborhood, have plans for future towers to come. It’s just too bad that all the facilities that should appear with the rise of such neighborhoods and incoming of so many people is non existent. And don’t trust that these are great “social housing” constructions, because you have every rule and obstacle in front of those that truly need these houses. Only IT and creatives with some money are being chosen for these so called social houses. So I agree with the locals, fight it however you can, because decisions like these change how people live cities for many years to come. And I mean… Just the name “EindhovenXL” means that they don’t understand the tiny bitsy city that they truly have (when it comes to public infrastructure), that will never become a true cosmopolitan city. Good look Eindhoven! A city that was never known for being a great place to live and still isn’t.
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