New district of Stadshavens in Groningen: municipality and landowners reach agreement

Along the Eemskanaal in Groningen, a new district on the water will emerge in the coming years: Stadshavens. It will be a neighbourhood for everyone, with owner-occupied houses, (social) rental homes and business premises that will be built sustainably and free of natural gas. A great deal of attention is also being paid to greenery and public space. The municipality of Groningen, the developers VanWonen, VolkerWessels Vastgoed and BPD, and the housing corporations Lefier and Nijestee signed an agreement this summer for the joint development of 2400 homes in this area.

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The 2400 homes will be in the area between the Eemskanaal, Balkgat, Damsterdiep and the marina, in the east of the city of Groningen. It will be a lively, urbanised neighbourhood on the waterfront. There will be housing for all types of residents and budgets, both for sale and (social) rent. The parties want to build a sustainable and natural gas-free residential area. Historic buildings such as the EMG silo, the zakkenloods and the Cova chimney go hand in hand with modern, urbanised architecture.

The parties are jointly investing in public spaces: roads, cycle paths and footpaths, quays and extra squares as meeting places. Alderman Roeland van der Schaaf: "Stadshavens will be a green, car-free district, focused on staying, meeting and moving. Cars will not be parked in public spaces. We are giving the Damsterdiep a green look. We are also constructing a new city park on the site of the sand transshipment near the Sontbrug".

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With the development of Stadshavens, the growth of the city will gain space. "Groningen is one of the fastest growing cities in the Netherlands. This growth is expected to continue. We have a shortage of housing. The main demand is for good quality housing, which is sustainable, affordable and not too far from the city centre. Over the next five to ten years, some 20,000 new homes will have to be built in the city. That's why we are investing heavily in housing construction, including on the Suikerzijde and in the Eemskanaal zone," explains alderman Roeland van der Schaaf.

The plans for Stadshavens stem from the Next City environmental vision and the Eemskanaal zone development strategy, City on the Water, from 2018. Most of the land is owned by the developing parties VolkerWessels Vastgoed, VanWonen, BPD, Nijestee, Lefier and the municipality of Groningen. Developers and the municipality had previously concluded agreements of intent to develop this area jointly. The Outline Agreement lays down the basic principles for design, cooperation and financing.

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According to the current calculation, the total investment for all parties amounts to 110 million euros. The municipality is in talks with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations about a contribution from the Housing Development Impulse Scheme (Regeling Woningbouwimpuls). Last year, the ministry and the municipality concluded the Woondeal: the agreement to work together intensively to increase housing production. The agreement explicitly mentions Stadshavens as a location for speeding up housing construction.

The Outline Agreement will be further elaborated in a cooperation agreement over the next six months. The municipality will also enter into talks with local residents, businesses and those involved. Preparations for the planning procedures will also begin. In addition to the Outline Agreement, the municipality is holding talks about the development of the Certe Huisartsenlaboratorium site on Damsterdiep. In time, building plans will also follow for the locations of the police and fire brigade on the Sontweg, which also fall under the Stadshavens planning area. A total of 3300 homes in this area are involved.

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