| AUTONOMOUS ZONE IN LEIDEN (NL) ‘KOPPENHINKSTEEG’ THREATENED WITH EVICTION
On Thursday 22 February the Commission for Urban Planning, Housing and Transport will review the municipality of Leidens redevelopment plans for the Koppenhinksteeg/Hooglandsekerkgracht corner. There is a strong chance the Commission will approve the redevelopment. This is an important step toward the evacuation of the Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg. Therefore, that evening, there will be a demonstration to protest against the redevelopment plan and in support of the Vrijplaats (Free place) Koppenhinksteeg. The municipality can only see this lovely part of Leiden as luxury apartments and shops, just like so many other parts of the town. The municipality calls this giving a ‘quality boost’ to the area. The association ‘Friends of the Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg’ is of the opinion that the municipal redevelopment plan adds nothing to the liveability , vitality and diversity of the city and that it must be stopped. Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg is brimming with real social quality and is certainly not for sale!
Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg is not for sale!
Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg is the place for a large number of cultural, social and political initiatives such as the Free Shop, Cafe Las Vegas, a centre for illegal immigrants, de Invalshoek, Bar en Boos and a Kung Fu school. The municipality of Leiden wants to evict these groups and many other occupants.
In its 31 years of existence the Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg has more than fully proved its social, cultural and political value. Last year some of the users of the squat proposed that the Municipality of Leiden lease the squat to the occupants as an ‘empty hull’. According to the proposal the municipality would take responsibility for maintaining the exterior of the building while the established user organizations would maintain the interior. In this way the organizations which had developed in the Koppenhinksteeg over the last three decades, without any drain on municipal funds, would be preserved for the city.
The city council is, however, still in favour of the plan to evacuate the premises and the organizations being threatened have just a slim chance of a temporary tenancy. The discussion papers about the Koppenhinksteeg make no mention of the significance of the Koppenhinksteeg for the countless people who make use of its non-commercial initiatives. The plan to convert the Koppenhinksteeg to luxury apartments is an insult to the history and the vitality of Leiden’s progressive movement. As in other big cities, Leiden is seen as nothing more than a place for boutiques and permanent housing. We believe that every city must have space for cultural, social and political initiative: a Vrijplaats or Free Space. There is hardly any reason (besides financial gain) to evacuate the Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg.
We therefore demand that the municipal administration drop their proposal to evacuate the Koppenhinksteeg.
We call on everyone who values the activities of the Koppenhinksteeg to join in the demonstration in support of the Vrijplaats.
This will take place at the time of the municipal deliberations over building and evacuation planning. We will assemble on Thursday 22 February at 19.30 in Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg. At 20.00 we will march in a colourful and spectacular demonstration to the Town Hall, where everyone will have an opportunity to tell what s/he thinks of the municipalitys plan. To this end there will be a party with music in Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg.
For more information: call/fax the office of the action committee: 071 5173019. You can also email at vvk [at] squat [dot] net. On the website of the VVK http://squat.net/vvkyou will find the latest information about the proposed development, as well as the notice which the College van Burgmeester en Wethouders has sent to the commission.
It would also be great if you could write a response to these proposals to:
Raadscommissie Ruimtelijk Ordening, Wonen en Verkeer. Posbus 9100, 2300 PC Leiden fax: (0031)715165110
email: sleutel [at] leiden [dot] nl
* Please also send us a copy of your letter of support *