Attentive locals roaming our Statenkwartier will notice new houses are popping up filling in the gaps between the existing building blocks. One by one, almost unnoticed. The architecture fits into the overall image of the street, you get the impression these houses have been there all the time. What is going on here? The Hague is short on housing and the municipal policy is to build extra housing in existing neighborhoods, recently also seen in the protected city sites of Statenkwartier and Duinoord. Owners of garage boxes or other low-rise buildings between the building blocks seize the opportunity to demolish them and replace them with new three-storey houses or apartments. At first sight, it is an improvement when a neglected and vacant warehouse or garage box is replaced by a well-designed new building.
But be aware: as regards urban planning it is often a deterioration if the open space between the blocks diminishes and the original profile of the street gets narrower. When the Statenkwartier was designed and built, the aim was to emphasize the rural character of the new neighborhood in the dunes by allowing light and air by building open building blocks instead of traditional closed building blocks. The designated use and the permitted heights -and more- of all the buildings in the Statenkwartier are specified in the current zoning plan. If the owner goes for a different use or a higher building he needs a special municipal permit. However, off late the municipality is quite easy-going in granting exemptions.
Van Beverningkstraat, Willem de Zwijgerlaan
At the moment a proposal has been submitted for the replacement of the Kettenis garage boxes annex workshop with new-build apartments in the Van Beverningkstraat on the corner of the Willem de Zwijgerlaan. This is against the destinated use and height in the zoning plan. Let us remain alert to this development. BAS will ask the municipality about the criteria for granting permits to replace these low buildings by three-storey housing blocks.
Supported by over 60 residents BAS has filed the notice of objection.
The flyer campaign generated a lot of publicity and support. At least 25 residents have either objected to the municipality or have authorized BAS to do so on their behalf. BAS also lodged its notice of objection with the municipality on behalf of these 25 proxy holders. In addition, BAS also received about 40 statements of support in another form, which BAS attached to the BAS notice of objection.
In the notice of objection BAS architect Maarten Ruijters discusses the damage to architectural values in detail. Attached to it is a second expert report by monuments architect Evert Jan Nusselder, illustrating in word and images how the protected historic city scape is affected. The Friends of The Hague Association (1700 members) also submitted a well-founded objection. Those three documents all underscore the incorrect assumptions and internal contradictions in the earlier advice of the municipal Monuments and Building Aesthetics Committee.
What’s the importance of designating a protected city scape conservation area when the private interest of a real estate owner outweighs the heritage values? When this environmental permit is not withdrawn, all remaining turrets and pinnacles in the Statenkwartier will be in danger and the protected cityscapes throughout The Hague should fear the worst. This precedent should be avoided!
An environmental permit was also granted on April 22 for Frederik Hendrikplein 30 – part of the same iconic architectural ensemble as number 34. Here too, the applicant wishes to build an inappropriate additional roof storey. BAS will also file an objection against this environmental permit.
To everyone’s surprise and horror, the city council granted an environmental permit for the demolition of the authentic pinnacle and the construction of an additional rooftop storey at Frederik Hendrikplein 34.
The Frederik Hendrikplein is the shining centerpiece of the State Protected City Site Statenkwartier (Rijks Beschermd Stadsgezicht). The damage to this striking corner building will diminish the architectural value and outlook of the square. The building block Frederik Hendrikplein 29-36 must keep its authentic and unspoiled architectural ensemble character. We are afraid that this building permit grant is creating a precedent for future applications by owners striving to enrich themselves in a quick way by building more additional rooftop storeys and thus demolishing other authentic architectural features.
BAS will file an objection with the municipality against this granted environmental permit on the grounds of a violation of State Protected City Scape and of the damage to the cultural and historical value of the building block and the square. The residents and neighbors of the square received a flyer from BAS in which we call for all interested parties to make an objection. The more objections, the more difficult it becomes for city council. BAS has already received several dozen responses from concerned residents objecting to these nefarious plans and we will assist in filing these objections. They will hear from us soon.