The Right to Build Task Force recently ran a successful tour to The Netherlands, sharing a range of exciting Custom, Self-build and community-led housing projects with a group made up of planning and housing teams, landowners, developers and more.
The visit is the first in a series of trips organised by the Right to Build Task Force. It has been curated for anyone working in housing, planning or development, and is focussed on sharing examples that will help kick-start delivery of successful Custom and Self Build schemes in the UK. The developments visited will include the most important examples of large scale Custom and Self Build housing around Amsterdam and The Hague and provides an insight into new and innovative delivery models.
Buiksloterham in a unique area in northern Amsterdam which has been slowly converting from an industrial area to a mixed use urban quarter. Since 2011 Amsterdam City Council has been actively promoting the inclusion of Self Build housing development into the large scale redevelopment of the area to promote a greater diversity of housing development opportunities and place-making.
Black Jack Apartments
An energy neutral, innovatively designed mixed-use apartment block consists of 32 Custom Build homes, built for a housing co-operative.
A new neighbourhood for 46 households and a community centre on 30 ‘floating plots’. By 2020 it will be the most sustainable floating neighbourhood in Europe.
The Municipality of Almere is bringing on numerous Self and Custom Build opportunities on reclaimed land, with ‘Homeruskwartier’ the largest. The area is unique and has received widespread international acclaim.
Enabled by the City Council as part of its ‘I build my house in Almere’ initiative in response to the need to boost housebuilding following the financial crisis in 2008, it is the largest residential area in the Netherlands developed and built by its own residents. The district includes 3,400 homes, with 1,500 serviced plots released for Self Builders at market value as well as shared ownership and affordable rent.
Development is governed by light touch design codes and a land use zoning plan ‘Bestemmingsplan’ which set out the size, form and design of the homes. Sales are administered by the Council through its ‘Plot Shop’ marketing suite, with buyers receiving a ‘Plot Passport’ that help them understand what they can build on their chosen plot.
The Homeruskwartier a variety of building forms, including canal-side houses, villas, bungalows, garden houses and towers.
There are also live-work opportunities and land for ‘collective’ projects.
The Almere municipality has further diversified its Custom and Self Build housing initiative and is now bringing forward the Oosterwold Self Build area, along with other agencies.
Described as ‘DIY urbanism’, the development strategy for the area promotes collaborative organic development without top-down parceling of plots. Development is governed by a simple development framework and basic rules, rather than a detailed zoning plan.
Project initiators (communities) ‘organise’ the 4,300 hectare area themselves, making provision for greenspace, agriculture/allotments, roads and services. The area is planned to accommodate 15,000 new homes together with a green and agricultural character. A variety of living and working environments are provided at low development densities.
Escamplaan is a small neighbourhood development of affordable Self Build homes promoted by the City Council through its Self Build Programme. The neighbourhood is still under construction, although most properties have been finished. Here a mixture of styles gives the street-scene an eclectic finish, showing that diversity and difference can create an attractive and welcoming setting.
Noordwal 117 school conversion project
Both The Hague and Amsterdam City Councils have been at the forefront of enabling ‘Self-refurb’ projects and there are many excellent examples which illustrate how older buildings can be converted into ‘plots’ for self-refurbishment and create affordable housing opportunities for local communities.
Noordwal 117 is a DIY renovation scheme to create new homes by refurbishing an old school building.
The plot includes a piece of land behind the building with a large protected tree in the centre. The Council decided that the old users (an artists’ group) of the building have the first right to buy the commercial units. The remaining units will be issued to private individuals to convert to flats after registration. A lottery will decide who can secure a unit.
SpoorZone Railway Zone Scheme
The Delft Spoorzone scheme created a new railway tunnel, and infrastructure that enabled the old rail viaduct to be demolished creating new space. This new new residential area includes one in three homes being enabled for Custom and Self Build housing.
Grachtenhuis Nieuw Delft
The Delft regeneration project includes provision for higher density Custom and Self Build housing, such as Grachtenhuis.
De Hoge Vrijheid
De Hoge Vrijheid is one of the projects in the Petroleum harbour area of the The Hague, where the City Council is facilitating a range of Custom and Self Build opportunities. This includes an experimental parcel offered as part of a competition for an apartment building, 70 meters tall, with approximately 100 homes.
The Hoge Vrijheid (High Freedom) project won the competition with a proposal to design and plan the entire building as a collective.
Occupants can decide on floorplans, size, location, exterior façade and materials as well as community spaces within the building. The architect will be present for our visit to explain more.
Nieuw (New) Leiden is one of the older ones in The Netherlands, showing what Custom and Self-build can feel like when it’s embedded and settled.
About Custom Build Homes
Part of the BuildStore Group, Custom Build Homes is the UK’s leading dedicated provider of custom build marketing and sales services, providing Demand Assessments, Comprehensive Funding Plans, and Plot Sales via our Developer Portal and Specialist Plot Agency. It works with a range of landowners, developers, and local authorities.
The Right to Build Task Force will be running future learning visits in the new year.