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]

Wassenaar: Villa Ivicke, news from the last six months

Zoning plan, construction works, court proceedings.

A lot has happened in the past six months. In April, the owner started a lawsuit to evict us. And in May, the municipality of Wassenaar imposed an administrative order on both the owner Ronnie van de Putte and us as residents. With this administrative order, the municipality wants to put pressure on the owner to carry out construction works, and on us to leave the building; the latter on the grounds that Ivicke’s zoning plan is not “housing” but “office”.

As the residents of Ivicke, we have filed an appeal against the enforcement of the zoning plan, the hearing was supposed to take place on the 16th of September. However, the case was referred to court, wherefore the hearing was cancelled. We are now waiting for a date for this hearing. In the administrative order, the municipality has marked November 19 as our leaving date. Be that as it may, it is already clear that there won’t be a ruling in this case before said date, but this doesn’t mean that the municipality cannot evict us. For this reason, we have submitted a request to the municipality to suspend the enforcement of the administrative order until the court has ruled whether such enforcement is lawful. [Read More]

Amsterdam: Keizersgracht 318 resquatted

Since thursday (july 9th) a building was squatted in Amsterdam, on the Keizersgracht number 318. This sunday afternoon the squatters made their presence known. A statement from the squatters:

Since some time we are living in the building at the Keizersgracht number 318. Today we make our presence known. The building has been vacant for years. In 2015 it was also squatted. Back then it got evicted pretty quickly, because the owner claimed to still use it. Looking at the state of the building, that wasn’t very apparent. Later, in 2017, the owner got caught illegally demolishing the monumental interior of this building. The municipality decided to put a building stop on the building. It was prohibited for the owner to do anything else with the building, before the monumental interior was rebuild to its original state.
Now, 3 years later, nothing has changed. The building is still empty, nothing has been restored, and the decay continues.
All this while the homelessness numbers in Amsterdam are rising, the rents are skyrocketing, the waiting lists for social rent are getting close to 20 years and hotel after hotel is being build.
For us, reason enough to start using this building, we want to have a house! [Read More]

Amsterdam: Always Anti-Anti-kraak

Sunday afternoon there was a small action at a former squat in Amsterdam Noord. The squatters are angry, because in the evicted building is now an anti squat workspace. The building, that had been squatted already for 3 times, got evicted last summer. It turns out it got evicted for anti-squat. Below a statement of the squatters:

Today we are here to put the situation surrounding the building in the middle of your neighborhood under attention. The old pizzeria on Statenjachtstraat 598. Probably the recent history of this building is still known to you, but to summarize:
After years of vacancy, last year the building got bought by to rich real estate dealers, Axel Veldboom and Frans Blom. Last summer, the place got resquatted (it was already squatted 2 times before). It was clear for the squatters that there were no short term plans for the building. But the owners did have a plan. A pretty ambitious and unrealistic plan, to build an enormous building in the middle of the neigbourhood.
The state decided to start a procedure to evict the squatters, squatting is forbidden, and the owner claims to have a plan. The squatters decided to fight the state in court, to prevent the eviction. In a court case like this the importance of interests is being weighed against each other by a judge, or at least it should be. On one side the needs of the state for having the place evicted, and on the other side the needs of the squatters, to be able to have a place to live. [Read More]

Wassenaar: Ivicke’s Zoning Plan, a Monumental Fuck Up

Enforcement of a zoning plan would suggest there is a plan. There isn’t.

The municipality of Wassenaar has decided to pursue our eviction from Huize Ivicke on the basis of the building’s zoning plan which designates its function as an office, not a residence.

Their reasoning for the decision appears to be that ‘Kantoor Ivicke’ must become ‘uninhabited’ once again in order to be ‘presentable.’ Strange, since we all seem to recall that Ivicke being uninhabited is what led to it becoming unpresentable in the first place.

The fact that it is a house, that it has largely been used as a house, that anti-squat guardians lived at Ivicke for several years under the current owner’s watch, and that many thousands of people are living “illegally” in non-residential (and often state-owned) buildings as anti-squat guardians across the country is apparently irrelevant.

The normalization of actual offices and other business premises as anti-squat housing – operating in a ‘legal grey zone’ – demonstrates that Ivicke’s designation as an office is incidental; a handy bureaucratic tool the municipality can choose to use or disregard, depending on their interests at any given time. [Read More]

The Hague : Short Stay? No Way! Nothing’s over, we’re just getting started!

Today, Monday the 8th of June, we left the building at the Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872 (WP872) in The Hague. After a month of occupation as a protest against the planned construction of luxury short-stay apartments in the Zeeheldenkwartier, the Court of The Hague has given permission for the eviction of the building. We have therefore decided to leave the building within the aforementioned period of three days, not out of good-will nor out of understanding, but with our eyes looking at the future.

The squatting of the building on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade was a first step in the fight against short-stay apartments and gentrification in The Hague and in the Zeeheldenkwartier in particular. At the basis of this struggle lies the issue of ownership and housing law. As a group we had decided to break ownership and claim our right to live. This is a necessary step since real estate companies do what they want with (potential) homes under the guise that “they are theirs”. We are not talking about private property here, but about ownership, the property right that is going crazy and is unleashing a dictatorial dynamic in many neighborhoods of our city. It is built for profit and not for needs, real estate is a profitable thing. Neighbourhoods are sold out and the houses that are built are sold and rented for the maximum price. The possibilities to raise this issue in an administrative or legal way are almost non-existent. In a courtroom there is little to gain from the start: the judge always judges in favour of the owner, no matter how awkward the situation is. Possession, ownership and corporatism outweigh a fundamental human right, the right of residence. Such a ground is written in the law book, it is written in black and white. A problematic case. [Read More]

Wassenaar: Ivicke Sales Seizure, First Step To Expropriation?

The municipality of Wassenaar is going to court to annul the recent sales of Ivicke by the owner, Ronnie van de Putte, to two of his newly-established companies.

Van de Putte is currently subject to an administrative order from the municipality of Wassenaar to carry out restoration works on Ivicke by July 20. Otherwise, the municipality intends to carry out the work itself and send him the bill.

Thing is though, this bill could quickly add up. And van de Putte isn’t known for paying his debts.

Ivicke’s restoration costs are thought to be around 500,000 euros but this can (and probably will) shoot up once the works begin. Especially since there has not yet been a full architectural assessment.

Kees Wassenaar, the city’s alderman for spatial planning, said the dispute over Ivicke has already cost Wassenaar hundreds of thousands of euros. A spokesperson for the municipality did not want to give an exact overall figure, but the city has incurred around 40,000 in legal costs alone.

These spiraling costs are what led the municipality of Wassenaar to ask the province of Zuid-Holland for help. In response, Zuid-Holland pledged a maximum of 500,000 euros from its monument restoration fund for 2020. We stand against this abuse of public funds for a project that does not meet the criteria set by Zuid-Holland’s own monument restoration policy, where there is no guarantee the money could be recouped, and which does not guard against a new cycle of neglect and decay. [Read More]

Wassenaar: Report on Ivicke’s ‘Emergency Repairs’

In January, following the court ruling stating that the owner must comply with the municipality’s order to carry out emergency repairs, a contractor began the works on Ivicke.

At the request of members of two monument protection organisations, we sent a report (below) to the municipality, with details about how the repairs were carried out. We didn’t receive a response. Instead, municipal officials announced they would inspect the building. We agreed to this and showed the inspectors and the contractor around, pointing out the issues we’d already raised in the letter. The officials barely engaged with us, and merely went around with a clipboard and ticked off boxes. The conclusion of the municipality was that the owner fulfilled the obligation to do emergency repairs. Yay! Win-win for the municipality, who successfully enforced their administrative order, and for the owner, who can keep them off his back (for now). [Read More]

Amsterdam: ADM community has to pack again!

A first update from the Slibvelden crew itself was made public on May 24th 2020. One big part of the former ADM crew relocated at the Slibvelden on Buikslotermeerdijk 95 in Amsterdam Noord. The following statement is published on Indymedia on June 4th by Stichting ADM Leeft, an organization registered at Louwesweg 1 in Amsterdam, with Hay Schoolmeesters, mister Urban Resort himself, Free Spaces Accord, holding the pen:

ADM community has to pack again!

Almost a year and a half ago, the ADM site was evicted inappropriately. Under the supervision of the municipality, all that was from and dear to the more than 125 residents was completely destroyed by the owner of the site. Part of the close-knit community ended up on the Sludge Fields of the former Water Purification in Amsterdam North. Now this group is forced to relocate on November 1 this year, without any necessity.

At the end of 2018, a motion was passed by the Amsterdam city council, which instructed the college to work with the ADM community to find a definitive location where the community could continue their way of living and livelihood after the sludge fields. The sludge fields were made available to the ADM community for 2 years by means of a tolerance decision. In a recent meeting with the Municipality Noord, it turned out that, despite the motion and despite the fact that no other location is in the picture, the Municipality nevertheless wants to remove the ADM community from the site! [Read More]

The Hague: Summary of the court case Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872

The court case against the occupants of the Waldeck Pyrmontkade 872 in The Hague took place on the 25th of May 2020. The owners of this building, RE:BORN real estate, had started an urgent court case in a sped up procedure to evict the occupants. They were also claiming an indemnity of 100.000 euro. We had taken the decision to not yield in front of their pressure, and to take on this court case.

RE:BORN’s story was out of its hinges throughout the court case. Although their file appeared impressive at the first glance, a closer look revealed it to be rather hollow. The blueprints, contracts with contractors and renting companies were for the most dating back to two years ago and had been signed back then (although signatures were missing here and there). The ‘plan’ was clearly already there, but was probably on the shelf for 2 years already. As RE:BORN said themselves in an article published by Den Haag Centraal: “we have had to put various projects in the freezer” (23-04-2019). With the documents they delivered, it became clear that there was no emergency in this case. There was also no indication of when the construction would start. There were just a couple of dates summed up, from the past two weeks, to try and prove in this way that the `squatters were frustrating the project´ and so to legitimate the indemnity of 100.000 euro. [Read More]

Amsterdam: The continuation of eradication policy of Free Spaces

Update by the Slibvelden crew, May 24th 2020.

Wednesday morning we had a meeting with the relevant officials talked about the Slibvelden (sludge fields) and the end date of November 1 that is imposed us. We entered the conversation with the hope that Erna Berends (City District chairman Amsterdam North, SP) that we could find mutual ground in our stay on the sludge fields. We left this digital meeting trembling from the reconfirmation that nevertheless all beautiful slogans and open conversations Amsterdam is stuck in their extermination policy free space.

After the eviction of the ADM Terrain in January 2019, we where offered an alternative place. This is the Sludge Fields – former water purification company Amsterdam Noord. The deal was that we could say for two years and in the meantime we and the municipality would look for a sustainable solution. In one and a half years we have bandaged the wounds and the community itself is healing. We managed to use the terrain for what it is. There is a communal garden, kitchen, workshop, concert space built up. And there have been some small-scale events and neighborhood activities organized. [Read More]