The new year started with a big bang: in the beginning of January the pinnacle on the corner of Frederik Hendrikplein 34 ended up in the demolition waste container. In April 2020 BAS initiated a widely supported objection to the granted environmental permit. The neighborhood, local politicians, the press and our ally The Friends of The Hague Association were shocked and angry that this damage to the heart of our State Protected City Scape Statenkwartier was allowed without further ado. The process of filing an objection to the municipality and appealing to the court lasted the entire year 2021 and at the time of writing in 2022 we are still waiting for the final decision by the judge. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done, as the owner quickly made use of the permit to destroy this historic feature before the court rule on our legal objection. The same time line applies to the similar legal process against the planned additional roof storey of Frederik Hendrikplein 30. At this moment we are still waiting for the verdicts.
In addition, we took action against about 30 other building plans that conflicted with the State Protected City Scape. The majority of these plans were clearly visible roof structures in landmark places and disturbingly visible roof terraces, as well as a few plastic window frames in otherwise authentic building blocs. We then submitted our expert report to the municipal Monuments and Building Aesthetics Committee, which subsequently issued their negative advice in many cases, partly based on our arguments. Where necessary we also objected to the permits granted – with and without success – or we reported illegal constructions to the municipal enforcement team (Pandbrigade). Praise is due for the Pandbrigade which always took action quickly and decisively. In half of the cases the initiative lay with concerned local residents, the other matters came to light because we keep a close eye on the daily municipal reports.
The Neighborhood Committee Statenkwartier asked for our advice regarding the replacement of Dick’s Snackcar at Frederik Hendrikplein, another long running and ambiguous affair. We also gave advice to local residents with questions about their own building plans or concerns about the building plans of the neighbors. We submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests, one about the new building planned on top of the Kettenis garage in the Van Beverningkstraat and one about the heavily neglected national monument Huize de Kempenaer, owned by the embassy of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately the replies to our requests arrived well after the legally required deadline for a respons and provided disappointingly little information.
We also looked well beyond the borders of our neighborhood and to the future. Abe van der Werff was the secretary of a joint report of the nine State Protected City Scape neighborhoods in The Hague. This report about our shared problems was presented to Alderman Balster. There will be a follow-up meeting with the Urban Development Department. In the meantime the Municipality has started the consultation process for the forthcoming Environment Act. This Act will have a big impact for all the regulations for municipal planning and building permits. In December BAS took the initiative to draft the joint input for the Environmental Vision (the first step in the Environmental Act) on behalf of the State Protected City Scapes Neighborhoods and The Friends of The Hague Association. We submitted two documents for public participation in January. The start of the new year 2022!