Early this year, minister De Jonge announced his plans to accelerate housing construction. The Netherlands faces a major housing task. The cabinet is aiming for the realisation of 900,000 houses up to and including 2030. The average lead time of a housing project is currently 10 years, which can and must be faster, Minister De Jonge believes.

To achieve this, the minister has prepared the Plan of approach to speed up processes and procedures housing construction The plan of approach focuses on four themes:

1. Working more efficiently and strengthening capacity
To achieve a more efficient way of working, processes that currently take place sequentially should be carried out simultaneously in the future. Additional funds will be made available to strengthen administrative capacity.
2. More direction, cooperation and YIMBY (yes in my backyard)
De Jonge wants to promote cooperation between (co-)governments, housing associations and market parties by making better cooperation agreements. The government also wants to involve the interests of house seekers more in future housing projects.
3. Stimulate innovation and industrial construction
Besides encouraging the digitisation of housing planning, the government is pushing for innovation with regard to the way of (re)construction. This includes looking more into opportunities to convert existing vacant office or industrial buildings into housing, as well as the production of prefab houses.
4. Adaptation of laws and regulations
The fourth and final way in which the government intends to tackle the housing crisis is by amending existing laws and regulations. This aims to create clear frameworks at the planning stage and ensure faster but careful handling at the legal protection stage.

Currently, the granting of an environmental permit is usually subject to objection to the municipality, then appeal to the court and finally appeal to the Administrative Law Division of the Council of State (the Division), the highest administrative court in the country. In a zoning plan procedure, there is an opportunity for interested parties to submit an opinion. After the zoning plan is adopted, a first and only appeal can be lodged with the Division.

The government now wants to prescribe a similar procedure for environmental permits for more than 12 dwellings, by only opening appeals to the Division. This should ensure that construction of these houses can start faster.

The government also wants to create a regulation similar to the current Crisis and Recovery Act (Chw). Among other things, this would mean that the deadline for the administrative court to rule would be a maximum of six months and that no pro forma appeal could be filed, but instead the grounds of appeal would have to be formulated directly.

What does this mean for stakeholders?

With these plans, the legal process for stakeholders is somewhat restricted. The government is not of the opinion that legal protection is too restricted because the single permit is tested against the zoning plan. The zoning plan has been adopted by an elected municipal council and legal remedies have also been available against this plan.
Those who disagree with the granting of an environmental permit that allows more than 12 dwellings will have to appeal directly to the Division after objecting, without first having had the opportunity to raise the dispute in court. This waives the main rule of appeal to two courts.

Does it make sense?

In doing so, the lack of an earlier appeal option ensures that interested parties must apply directly to the Division. This may further burden the Division and further delay the hearing of appeals. For now, it remains to be seen whether the plans will contribute to faster housing construction.
However, it is not that far off. Are you concerned about housing projects in your neighbourhood and whether your interests are adequately considered? Then contact our helpdesk and we will discuss the options with you.