“Major concerns” in Parliament about Cabinet’s housing construction plans, missed targets

Members of the Tweede Kamer is not at all confident that the great ambitions of Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge will be able to be accomplished. De Jonge wants about 900,000 additional homes to be built in the Netherlands by 2030, but the question now is whether that will succeed, thanks to a combination of factors, like rising interest rates, more expensive building materials, the nitrogen emissions crisis and unenthusiastic investors. So far, De Jonge has acknowledged there are “headwinds” facing the construction of housing, but he has refused to adjust his plan.

The PvdA said it has “great concerns” about the possibility of achieving the goals. Other parties also believe that things should be done differently.

Denk MP Stephan van Baarle said he fears that De Jonge will become “the minister of empty promises” if he does not intervene now. Parliamentarians from DENK, PVV and SP, like Sandra Beckerman, all pointed to De Jonge’s his photo opportunities to reinforce the message of his sky high ambitions.

“There are promising piles of paper, but so little is coming from it,” said PVV member Alexander Kops.

GroenLinks and the PvdD want De Jonge to play a bigger role in the nitrogen emissions policy debates, as construction will run into problems as long as the nitrogen emissions problem remains unresolved. Eva van Esch (PvdD) advised De Jonge to “lie in a sleeping bag in front of the Ministry of Agriculture if necessary” until progress is made in the approach to nitrogen issues. In Noord-Brabant, projects have already come to a standstill because there was not enough allowance for more nitrogen emissions.

It was not only opposition parties who criticized De Jonge. Coalition parties are joined in on Thursday. According to VVD member Peter de Groot, it is “unsustainable” that construction is still not taking place at various locations, despite what has been planned. “The minister has made an energetic start, but programs and laws are not very useful to people yet. More and faster construction is needed.”

D66 MP Faissal Boulakjar wants to see more from De Jonge about building additions on top of existing buildings.

ChristenUnie MP Pieter Grinwis was more patient towards De Jonge, but also said he wants to know how the share of social housing rentals will remain up to standard. According to Johan Conijn, a professor-emiritus at the University of Amsterdam for and a housing market expert, social housing will soon fall to about 25 percent of supply, partly due to sales and demolition of older properties. De Jonge is aiming for a national average of 30 percent per municipality.

The debate was held under the title, “Failure to Realize Housing Construction Ambitions.” According to De Jonge’s CDA colleague, Jaco Geurts, that title is incorrect. “There is sufficient planning capacity nationally to achieve the goals.” According to Geurts, “public housing is back on the agenda” and he has “only respect for what the minister has achieved.” However, more direction is needed for a “healthy mix” of social construction and middle-income housing.

Reporting by ANP

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