The plan to build thousands more homes between Essen and Groningen was well received by the province, but not by the municipality of Nordenfeld.

If it had been up to outgoing Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Housing), the area between Assen and Groningen would have changed radically after 2030. In all, he wants to build an additional million homes across the country after that year. One location designated for part of this is the area between Assen and Groningen.

Also, 981 thousand homes must be built before 2030. But according to the minister, this is not enough, as he wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives. He expects that approximately the same number will need to be added in the next 10 years. He has allocated five areas for these additional homes, mainly in the “district”, rather than in the Randstad.

Good news for the home seeker? Opinions are divided in Drenthe.

“It’s very surprising, but welcome,” answers MP Yvonne Turnhout (PvdA). There was no response from the Cabinet at the time to the Delta plan for the north with an additional 220,000 homes for the Lily Line, the Lower Saxony Line and improvements to the existing track to the north. The Every Country Counts report, which showed that governments were investing much more systematically in the Randstad, also received a lukewarm government response.

However, those reports on the importance of investment in the region now appear to have become “the foundation of the new policy that the government is developing,” says Turnhout. “We are very happy about this and would like to discuss it.”

However, she believes that there must be preconditions to facilitate the construction of all those homes. “You can’t get there with housing alone. People also have to be able to bring activity back to the area. They have to be able to work there and public transportation has to be well organized. It’s about the whole picture of a livable district,” Turnhout says. Who would particularly like to sit down with the Minister to discuss the details and conditions.

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The municipalities of Drenthe do not immediately want to build additional houses on a large scale. In Tinarlo, the next seven years will focus on the needs of the municipality. “The need is approximately nine hundred to a thousand homes. This is what we are building for now,” says Jorrit Velinga (Livable Tinarlo), Tinarlo municipal councilor.

Tinarlo also believes that additional new construction will only be possible if the government also focuses more on the quality of life in the villages. “If we strengthen infrastructure, public transportation, social amenities and employment opportunities, there will also be a greater need for housing. People must have a reason for wanting to live here. Then we will also add more housing. But not much.” “Beautiful surroundings, nature and relative peace,” warns Velinga, who does not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The stop at Tynaarlo could be an incentive to do more. It has been a desire we have cherished for many years to stop on the Assen-Groningen railway. “It will be a very good boost to our infrastructure and to the accessibility of our municipality. And then you will see that there will be a greater demand for homes, more than those thousands.”

In addition to the Assen-Zwolle area, De Jonge is also looking to build large-scale housing “further from Drenthe towards Emmen” in the long term.

In addition, Vellinga believes the government should provide additional funds to facilitate affordable housing, because affordable housing “costs the municipality a lot of money,” Vellinga says. “It would be great if the government also encouraged us to build more affordable housing,” Vellinga says. His Nordenfeld colleague, José Darwinkel, agrees: “Municipalities cannot afford this unprofitable class, and the government must do so. At current construction prices, it is almost impossible to build social housing.”

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But if the government meets these requirements one by one, the question remains whether it will be possible to add many more homes. “Maybe we can build five to eight hundred more houses, but then we have to look carefully at any location in this municipality,” concludes Vellinga, who still sees places in Zuidlaren and Fries and very limited in small centres.

Councilor José Darwinkel (municipal interests) says additional housing construction is unlikely in Nordenfeld. “We have agreed an ambition with the municipal council. We have concluded agreements with Hugo de Jonge, the 12 municipalities of Drenthe and the province to build housing. That is for the next ten years. We want to stick to that and achieve it first.”

Darwinkel says additional housing is also not realistic in the current market. “We are primarily concerned with the agreements we have now concluded.” Darwinkel points out the great effort it takes to find and then implement housing construction sites. We work in Roden-Zuid (250 homes), Maatlanden/De Zulthe (100) and Peize-Zuid (150). “This takes many years because they are difficult processes.”

If the government is to move forward, according to Darwinkel, there must be an agreement that benefits the North. “Employment, the Lilly Line, the Lower Saxony Line, and then you have to supply the butter and oil, and that is not the case yet at all.”

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