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Stop demolition in West

2 April 2006 – The large scale demolition and construction of new houses in West should be ended. In its place, the maintenance of existing houses must be improved and new jobs must be created, says the Amsterdam Urban Development Council (ARS).

Under the name Parkstad 2015, a large scale renewal programme has been set up in West in 2001, consisting among other things of the demolition of thirteen thousand houses and the construction of ten thousand new ones. This would be necessary to put an end to the deterioration of the neighbourhood and to make it more diverse.

However, the ARS finds that the existing houses have proven more popular than was initially feared. “It is painful to conclude that the only houses that are often unoccupied are new houses that do not meet the quality standards of this garden city”, the council says.

The ARS says that demolition and new construction should not become an end in itself. In its place, it is better to improve the maintenance of existing houses. In addition, investments in social policies are needed: “Make schools, shops, sports facilities, cultural and social institutions, but above all employment part of the urban renewal task”.

The large scale demolition and new construction of houses is strongly encouraged by the national government, but often incites resistance among residents. They are often forced to move, only to be confronted with higher rents afterwards.

Professor Thomsen of the Delft Technical University has warned in the past that resistance against large scale demolition was likely to increase. According to him, renovation is a much faster and cheaper way to provide the good quality houses that are needed.

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