Netherlands: Vogelvrij Newsletter #2

Vogelvrij brings you a bunch of news from squats all around the Netherlands. There is always space for more news in the newsletter, so mail us your updates or publish them on a open publishing platform such as, or send your statements to, and announce your events on [Read More]

Netherlands: Actions against the ban on squatting

This year, October 1st marks the ten year anniversary of the Squatting Ban coming into effect in the Netherlands.

Much like what we saw in the UK following the criminalisation of squatting in 2012, the repercussions have been drastic for our community and our movement. We’ve been pushed out of city centres, drastically reducing our visibility and contact with the public outside our own community. The number of squats across the country has been divided by ten, and the legal risks surrounding squatting have risen. Perhaps most damaging of all, our community is sorely lacking in participation from a “new generation”. A large number of people in that age group are totally oblivious to the concept of squatting.

Since the squatting ban came into effect, homelessness has doubled. Simultaneously, waiting lists for social housing have grown enormously, the average waiting time being nine years. The total lack of affordable housing constitutes a housing crisis which, since 2020, is being referred to as a housing emergency. [Read More]

Netherlands: Actions after 10 years of squatting ban

10 Years On! And you still can’t live in a waiting list!

Today, October 1st, 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of the criminalisation of squatting in the Netherlands through the Kraken en Leegstand (Squatting & Emptiness) law.
Despite the law, kraken gaat door (squatting continues).
On the face of it, the law was created to end both squatting and emptiness. It has done neither. Buildings are still empty and for many people squatting remains a necessity. After all, it is not the existence of empty buildings that leads to squatting, but rather the lack of accessible housing.
Whether you are squatting, renting, or looking to buy a home, finding an available (let alone affordable) house is a struggle. [Read More]

Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg must stay!


  Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg must stay!


Koppenhinksteeg @

Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg must stay!

Saturday the 9th of February 2002

Demonstration for keeping Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg Departing from the Koppenhinksteeg at 14.00h

On the 9th of February there will also be an open day in the Koppenhinksteeg. The street will throw her doors open and present an informative cultural programme until the small hours. At 17.30h there will be food and the rest of the evening will be packed with poetry, live music, film etc and at 21.30h ska band ?De Hardheid? will entertain us. All day long: surprises for young and old!

The Freeplace in the Koppenhinksteeg in Leiden is being threatened with closure. For the last thirty-three years, the Freeplace has been a rallying point of resistance, creativity and discussion. However, Leiden council is planning to turn the buildings on the Koppenhinksteeg into an apartment complex with commercial space on the ground floor. There?s no space left for the present occupiers of the buildings. Therefore it?s important that as much people as possible take part in the demonstration on the 9th of February in order to convince Leiden city council that they have to change their minds about the plans. Stop Leiden council?s plans! Keep Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg!

Since the end of the nineteen-sixties, social and cultural activities have been taking place in the Koppenhinksteeg. It all started with anarchist artists who began a youth museum there. In the seventies, young people from a critical trade union occupied the buildings. Alternative bookshop Manifest then came along in the nineteen eighties. Nowadays the street is still bristling with activities such as the Weggeefwinkel (Free shop), Las Vegas, a unique info/book-shop, anti-racist organisation ?De Fabel van de Illegaal?, cultural centre Bar & Boos and a martial arts school. All of these initiatives add something special to the city. An average of 2000 people a week visit the Freeplace, which is run for the largest part by volunteers. The initiatives stand for another kind of society, one of solidarity where money is not the centre of everything. As the Weggeefwinkel?s motto says, there is enough for everyone?s need, but not enough for everyone?s greed. The Weggeefwinkel was the first shop of its kind in this country, and was awarded the Marga Klompé prize for the most social project in 1999.

This Freeplace looks set to disappear if Leiden council gets its way in turning the buildings into commercial properties. We can see comparable developments elsewhere in the city, for example in the area known as the Aalmarkt. Affordable housing and shop space in the city centre has to make way for big money. The city council believes they are adding to the city centre, but we call it selling the city out. The buildings that the Freeplace makes use of are not rented. This means that all maintenance costs are paid for by the organisations themselves. Should the council legalise the Freeplace and renovate the buildings, the foundation ?Stichting Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg? is prepared to rent them at an affordable rate. However, the council refuses to accept this offer as big money is calling! Recently a building permit has been issued. Hundreds of letters of objection have been handed in to the council against this permit and the whole procedure is still going on, and the alternative building, Lammermarkt 41 (which the council offered exclusively to De Fabel van de Illegaal and the Weggeefwinkel) is way too small.

On the 6th of March, local council elections will take place in Leiden. Many political parties have included the preservation of Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg in their programmes. We know that there?s also a lot of support for the Freeplace among the rank and file of other parties. We are calling on everyone to join in our musical and colourful demonstration for keeping the Freeplace in the Koppenhinksteeg, so that the initiatives there can continue to be creative and mutually support and inspire one another.


More information: Vereniging Vrienden Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg (Association ?Friends of Freeplace Koppenhinksteeg?) Postbox 2228 2301 CE Leiden The Netherlands E-mail: vvk [at] koppenhinksteeg [dot] nl Telephone: 06-23390616 Website:








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 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 *