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Cultural heritage

Protecting our cultural heritage is important, both now and in the future. No one will have any objection to that in itself. It is a different matter if you are the owner of a building or the combination of a building and its protected surroundings, such as a garden, which has been designated a monument. Not every owner is happy about this, because it creates restrictions on making changes according to personal taste and needs.

There are national monuments and municipal monuments. The designation of national monuments by the state has been nearly completed in recent years. Municipalities are still busy and apply their own criteria.

Changing a monument

A strict permit system applies to the modification or removal of a national or municipal monument, whereby an environmental permit (monument licence) must be requested for the demolition, disruption, relocation or modification in any way of a protected monument, or the repair, use or allowing a protected monument to be used in a way that disfigures or endangers it.

Not only structural changes are subject to a permit, such as changing the interior of the building or building an extension. Even the painting of window frames usually requires such a permit. The reasoning description indicates - if all goes well - exactly why and which parts of the designated building are particularly worthy of protection.

If only an ornate front façade is included in the reasoning description, an application for a generous extension to the rear will (have to) be granted with a monument permit. If you want to know what is included in the reasoning description, please visit the website for national monuments www.cultureelerfgoed.nl. This information is freely available.

The permit system in itself is strict because in almost all cases a permit is required. But the assessment of a permit application varies from very strict to very flexible. This is strongly dependent on the nature of the intervention and the so-called 'reasoning description' for the monument.

It is annoying, however, that in the past reasoning descriptions were often formulated in very general terms and in a few lines. This does not provide much guidance for the assessment of the application by the municipality or the government and the question of what exactly needs to be protected. It also makes it more difficult for the initiator to assess in advance whether a permit can be obtained.

What gives some guidance is that, when the legislation on monuments was drafted, the importance of the owner's interest in being able to use the monument was weighed against the importance of protecting cultural heritage. An application therefore requires a real balancing of interests, whereby it is important that the requested use of a monument can also promote the preservation of that monument. There is room to consider with the government what is and what is not acceptable. The licensing authority will almost always call in the expertise of experts in this regard. And there is public participation - and legal protection through the courts - to ensure that these interests are properly weighed up.

What does HABITAT do?

HABITAT examines your building plan according to the applicable rules for monuments and provides support in the consultation and negotiation with the municipality and the monuments committee. If necessary, we work together with our own monument or heritage expert to obtain a contra-expertise in the event of a negative recommendation from the monument committee and subsequent refusal of the monument permit. Naturally, we are also happy to assist with objection - (higher) appeal procedures on this subject.