Wassenaar: Bats at Ivicke

Potential Roost Destroyed And Building In Danger After Municipality Of Wassenaar Ignores Directive To Stop All Works.
The municipality of Wassenaar removed Ivicke’s gutter despite an Omgevingsdienst Zuid-Holland directive to stop all works on the building immediately due to the suspected presence of bats. The removal of the gutter also did not accord with the municipality’s own work plan, meaning Ivicke is now at serious risk of water damage.

On Tuesday 24 November, Omgevingsdienst (OD) Zuid-Holland ordered the municipality of Wassenaar to stop the works on Ivicke because of the strong possibility of bats roosting in and around the building. The municipality hasn’t conducted any assessment on this, or sought permits for the work in general, even though this is precisely why the owner, Ronnie van de Putte, was prevented from carrying out works on the building several months ago. The workers left the site early on Tuesday 24 and weren’t here on Wednesday 25, pending the results of the OD’s investigation.

(At this stage of the municipality’s works (4 weeks in), there’s scaffolding all around the building, more or less at the height of the now-removed gutter, but it’s not yet fully erect. Before the works stopped, the scaffolding was due to be completed by November 30, according to the plan submitted to us by the architect of the project.) [Read More]

Wassenaar: Municipality Wants To Ivickt Us Without A Court Hearing Or A Plan

The mayor and executive board (B&W) of Wassenaar rejected our request to suspend our eviction from Ivicke until at least six weeks after a court has ruled on the case.

After almost two and a half years of our residency at Ivicke during which we have cooperated to ensure the municipality can start essential repairs to the building, the B&W demands we leave without exercising our right to represent our interests in front of a judge, nor with a plan in place for Ivicke’s future use. The B&W says a postponement would neither serve the interests of the owner or the public, though it offers no explanation behind this assertion nor an opinion on our interests as Ivicke’s current residents.

Let’s be clear. The B&W’s eviction order has nothing to do with Ivicke’s repair works. At least, legally speaking. The municipality’s contractors are currently preparing the terrain. Our presence here doesn’t prevent the works from happening. [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]

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]

Wassenaar: The Danger of Occupied Ivicke

Why does the municipality of Wassenaar consider our residency at Ivicke to be a “danger”? And what exactly are we endangering? Here, I will give these questions some space, that necessarily lead us back in time.

In January 2019, Ivicke’s owner requested the municipality to enforce the bestemmingsplan (zoning plan), which was rejected a few months later in June. The municipality justified this decision by pointing out that our eviction would constitute a danger to public order given the owner’s lack of a plan for the building – that is, more vacancy could lead to a second act of squatting.

[Sidenote: The notorious bestemmingsplan is the bureaucratic destiny of Ivicke which was changed to an office function in the 1980s from its original purpose as residency. Thereafter, antisquat companies, hired by the current owner, made use of some rooms, which moves in a legal grey area but is tolerated due to its corporate nature and temporary status. While our residency is quite certainly of a temporary nature as well, the bestemmingsplan has been used as a strategy to evict the “danger” we pose by both the owner and the municipality.]

Back in time: The owner’s lawyer appealed on 29th of July, which was received on the 31st of July by the municipality – interesting timing, as the mayor got to know about the upcoming No Border Camp (NBC: 01.08.-04.08.) on the 30th of July. The NBC is an international gathering with workshops and actions, that inform about and act against the inhumane migratory policies of EU-states, and that aim to connect struggles in other parts of the world. Here, we pause in time because those days were packed with legal procedures and political struggles.

After the owner’s lawyer was informed about our plans with the terrain, she took the municipality to court in order to force them to prohibit the upcoming camp. When the judge didn’t grant her will, she went in appeal hoping that another judge would forbid the – at that point – ongoing camp. Luckily, this didn’t happen and the NBC proceeded. It is however interesting to investigate the lawyer’s justification for this legal upheaval. Her main argument emphasised the potential harm that the activities during the camp could cause to the monument. Her concern is quite ridiculous, as she is representing the person – Ronnie van de Putte – that has remorselessly observed the gradual degradation of the monument and not taken any steps to prevent its eventual destruction.
[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]

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]

Wassenaar: Huize Ivicke, Restoration Through Expropriation

Instead of unconditionally gifting half a million euros of public money to Van de Putte’s property portfolio, Ivicke must be expropriated before it can be restored. Only then is its future secure.

The province of South-Holland pledged to pay 500,000 euros for Huize Ivicke’s restoration if the municipality of Wassenaar is unable to recover the costs from the owner, Ronnie van de Putte.

This amounts to yet another handout of public money to a parasitic financial firm.

The move comes after the municipality of Wassenaar placed an administrative order on van de Putte last November which supposedly compels him to complete Ivicke’s restoration by July, 2020. Van de Putte contested this order in court, but lost.

In the event that van de Putte does not comply with the administrative order, the municipality of Wassenaar said they will arrange for Ivicke’s restoration and send him the bill. A spokesperson for the municipality of Wassenaar described this scenario as “unlikely,” but past experience tells us otherwise. Ask Amsterdam, Sluis, Noordwijk, or Leiden. [Read More]

Wassenaar: Huize Ivicke, One Night With The VVD

Late last year, VVD Wassenaar organized a ‘political cafe’ on the topic of Ivicke and squatting. The event, with little sense of irony, was called ‘Kraken of Actie?’ In three words, VVD Wassenaar disregarded one and a half years of direct action to reverse the decline of a national monument, whilst presenting their party, who sat idly by until it was squatted, as the saviours of Ivicke. Can’t deny their skills as politicians.

Two of the three invited speakers were VVD politicians. Strangely enough, we were not the third invitee. The first speaker, Daniel Koerhuis, has energetically taken on the role of the latest squatter-basher in parliament for the VVD as its housing spokesperson. [Read More]

Wassenaar: Huize Ivicke’s Nomination for 7 Most Endangered

In the summer of 2019, we were approached to help with the nomination process to have Huize Ivicke shortlisted as one of the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe under a program run by Europa Nostra. As the current occupants, we offered our perspective as part of the application. A photographer also came round to take pictures for Europa Nostra. While Ivicke made the shortlist of the final 14, it was not selected as one of the 7 Most Endangered. We can only presume that this is because we have saved it from immediate danger…(?)

Ivicke perspective by current occupants:

We represent the current occupants of the monumental villa Ivicke, located in Wassenaar, The Netherlands. The residence was occupied on July 4, 2018 without permissions from the owner. In light of Ivicke’s nomination for Europa Nostra’s 7 most endangered programme, we would like to share our perspective. [Read More]