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Ymere pushes demolition plans through

Text/photo: Alex van Veen

3 August 2007 - Housing Corporation Ymere is ignoring the Oost District Council’s call to postpone the demolition and construction plans for the Derde Oosterparkstraat and the Vrolikstraat. Residents intend to ask councillor Germaine Princen, responsible for housing, in what ways she might still act on the council’s motion.

On 2 July, a large majority of the district council called on Ymere to resume talks with residents. The motion, introduced by coalition parties GroenLinks and Meerbelangen, followed persistent protests. Residents are indignant about Ymere only talking to residents after the decisions had been taken.

Renters who refused to leave decided to resist and are supported by squatters and anti-squat guards. Through its 2 July motion, the district council indicated that Ymere should talk with the residents and suspend its plans.

Rather than respecting the motion, Ymere took the offensive by submitting a demolition request for the houses on 5 July. This was followed by a letter on 12 July, sent to councillor Germaine Princen (PvdA,) stating explicitly that it refuses to alter or suspend its plans.

On 17 July, residents were told that a notice to leave was in the mail. “As happens more often, the people who had protested most fiercely were offered a cheaper house and a return guarantee”, residents say. But they are not just concerned about their own houses. They do not want the neighbourhood’s social cohesion to disappear and find it a waste to demolish beautiful and affordable houses.

In collaboration with experts, residents want to develop plans for a renewal operation that benefits the neighbourhood and not just Ymere’s budget. “As a social entrepreneur, Ymere should appreciate residents’ involvement with each other and the neighbourhood”, they say. “In its publications, the housing corporation claims it wants to promote residents’ participation, social cohesion and the conservation of characteristic buildings, but in practice, the neighbourhood is being steamrollered”.

Residents call on Ymere once more to jointly investigate how the 19th century facades and the social rent houses can be salvaged as much as possible. In addition, they call on politicians to take their own motion seriously and to make it clear that privatised housing corporations ought not to be allowed to escape all democratic control. Residents will deliver this message to councillor Princen on 6 August.

On Saturday 4 August at 4 pm, residents will celebrate the opening of community centre ’t Blijvertje in the squatted apartment at Derde Oosterparkstraat 64h. A website (in Dutch) will keep you informed about new developments.

This article will also appear at the Ravage website


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