Wassenaar: Huize Ivicke squatted

Wassenaar, july 5th 2018 – This week, the rapidly decaying mansion Huize Ivicke, at Rust en Vreugdlaan 2, was squatted. Built like a little palace – stripped by a real estate speculator.

His name is Ronnie van de Putte: a man with a remarkable reputation in the real estate world, notorious for speculating with A-locations and deliberately letting monuments rot away. Bever Holding, the real estate fund in which Ronnie van de Putte owns the majority of the shares, owns the mansion and lets it rot for years. It has therefore been given the appearance of a haunted house, which it is to some extent as a ‘letterbox’ for a range of Ronnie affiliates.

The sad fate of Huize Ivicke is a perfect example of speculation. Because the owner renounced his social responsibility for this special monument and the government seems incapable of changing this (1), we as a group of people looking for a house, squatted the mansion. With the help of friends and family we want to do some work around and on the house in the coming weeks and start a creative living-group here. By living in Huize Ivicke and taking the necessary care of it, we hope to save the monument from further decay.


Squatting is not the problem, but a solution!
We do not think squatting is the problem, but vacancy and housing shortage are. In practice, squatting often turns out to be a useful means of helping municipalities to deal with what they often fail to do: from the decay or illegal demolition of buildings to the provision of space for community initiatives and housing for people in need. By means of this action, we want to denounce the failing government policy on speculation and give visibility to the increasing housing shortage, which is forcing more and more people to settle into precarious housing conditions. Since the ban on squatting, there are still insufficient alternatives for those looking for housing that guarantee residents respect for their housing rights. Many young people therefore live via anti-squatting companies, which demand that they renounce to their renter rights. Because housing is a right, we find it unacceptable that companies, by circumventing tenancy law, bring in millions on the backs of precariously housed people.

Demonstration against the squatting ban – Utrecht, 2010.

Prohibition of squatting
The aim of the Squatting and Vacancy Act (‘Wet kraken en leegstand‘), which came into force at the end of 2010, was to further reduce vacancy and squatting, among other things by obliging owners to report their vacant property. However, if you look at the figures, you will see that the vacancy rate has only increased, with virtually no consequences for the owners. On the other hand, the number of squatted properties has decreased. The Squatting and Vacancy Act is therefore mainly used by municipalities and the police as a weapon against squatting, while real estate speculators are not hindered in any way.

Following a court case started by squatters, shortly after the law was introduced, the Supreme Court ruled that the Public Prosecution Service may only vacate squats after summary proceedings have been instituted. Since squatters must be given the opportunity to await a decision from the preliminary relief judge, the police must respect squatters’ domestic rights. The protection of this right is laid down in Article 12 of the Constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Recent evictions in The Hague show that the police do not always take this legal protection very closely and even act willingly as a ‘free squad’ for landlords. In these politically motivated evictions (usually for vacancy), the government supports their unsocial interests – without sharing in their profits and at the expense of the taxpayer.

We would like to emphasize that the protection of our basic needs in relation to the protection of the interests of real estate developers can only be decided in a civil procedure. It should not be without consequences if the police would make it back into their heads to sit in the judge’s chair.

Slum king

Ronnie van de Putte is a typical real estate speculator, who has been buying up, demolishing or decaying buildings for decades, but has never built or developed anything. Ronnie has had a monastery impoverished in Zeeland for the past ten years (2); this year he was in the news for the pasture-cleaning of his long vacant, for the third time burned down manege in Noordwijk (3), where he has kept the municipality for years with his ‘Hole of Pallace’ (4) and the Vuurtorenplein and has annoyed the municipality and residents of Leiden for more than twenty years with the ‘Hole of Van de Putte’ at the train station square. As part of the national ‘Woonstrijd! -action tour’, the adjacent office block of Bever Holding was squatted in 2005, also as a protest against the slum king (see photo below). For years the municipality tried to expropriate Van de Putte, but because they couldn’t manage to do so, in 2010 the speculator was rewarded for those bitter years of speculation with an amount of no less than 17.9 million euros (5).

Cultural heritage
In 1909 the then owner Adrianus van Hattum had Huize Ivicke built for his Danish wife, as a copy of a 17th century Danish palace. A rather unique construction work by Dutch standards. The Cultural Heritage Agency values it ”as a characteristic example of a Neo-Lodewijk XVI-style country house from the beginning of the 20th century” and considers the property – with accompanying interior, garden and outbuildings – ”of general interest because of its cultural and architectural-historical value”. In addition, behind the manor stands a very rare playhouse, which Van Hattum had built for his children. There are only a few of these left in the Netherlands.

Because the estate is characteristic of the first phase in the development of Wassenaar into a villa village, many inhabitants of Wassenaar and monument organizations find it unacceptable that the government does not intervene in the passive destruction of this monument. Two years ago, the monument organisation Stichting het Cuypersgenootschap drew up a warning letter in which they called on the municipality of Wassenaar to more or less force Van de Putte to renovate everything. In response, the municipality asked the owner by letter to discuss his future plans with the country estate. A bit naive, of course, because does the municipality really expect that a man who has spent decades doing nothing but letting real estate deteriorate for millions of profits will now suddenly, out of good will, cooperate with such a request? Because Bever Holding has failed to respond until today, the municipality announced at the end of last year that it would impose a penalty payment if it did not succeed in completely clearing up the overdue maintenance by 1 September 2018 (6). Van de Putte is not very impressed by this, because there is still no visible improvement. As long as the government fails to combat vacancy and speculation, resulting in the dilapidation of buildings, citizens will have to continue to take matters into their own hands.

Huize Ivicke
Rust en Vreugdlaan 2
2243AS Wassenaar, The Netherlands
ivickeautonoom [at] riseup [dot] net

Some squats in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL/squated/squat
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL
Events in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/NL

Source: Indymedia https://www.indymedia.nl/node/43869