The annual conference addresses the question of how the major transitions we face as a society can contribute to the realization of sustainable residential areas. Why is this topic important for the province of South Holland?
South Holland is the most densely populated province in the Netherlands and the population continues to increase. We aim to build 200,000 homes by 2030. This means that we are adding almost 12% to the current stock in terms of the number of homes. A huge task in which we want to keep South Holland competitive, innovative and livable.
What, in your opinion, are the most important challenges and points of attention in the transformations?
A house is more than your house. You are already going home when you are driving down the street. We want people to have an enjoyable, healthy and safe life. Interior and exterior of the door. We want people to be able to easily come to work from home. This is why we must use housing to meet all our spatial challenges. Indeed, we want the transformation and restructuring of existing spaces to provide quality for the current inhabitants and the built environment (often by improving the quality of public space).
Besides housing, we also need to set aside spaces for water storage, agriculture, nature reserves and businesses. Not everything fits on the same square meter, although several functions can often be combined as is currently the case. Together we must solve the puzzle of integrated regional development in a crowded province. The province wants to give the different assignments a place in the space with smart combinations.
What role does the province play in carrying out these tasks?
The province is helping municipalities accelerate housing projects through knowledge, capacity and financial injections. We join the administrative forces of central government, municipalities, housing associations and builders. We urge the national government to put in place structural financing instruments, more control instruments and the reduction of nitrogen dust and noise.
We build as much as possible within the existing built-up area. This has many advantages: all the equipment is already there, many do not realize that cities can be made more livable by densification. With urbanization, we seize the opportunity to create robust green structures. To create opportunities for healthy exercise. It is precisely this densification that results in better public space, for example by adding more trees.
What other social issues do you relate to?
Since 2018, the province of South Holland has played a pioneering role in the climate-adapted building agreement. Working with various parties, this resulted in a step-by-step plan to: www.bouwadaptief.nl†
In the near future, we want to take the next step in this regard. Climate-friendly and nature-friendly construction is no longer a choice. Because we want to build homes where people can live healthy and safe now, but certainly 50 years from now.
In fact, the house of the future was made yesterday. We can already build energy-neutral, climate-adapted, nature-friendly, circular and bio-based buildings. But we need new ideas to do this quickly and cheaply. This is why we organize during the Urban Transformation annual conference a hackathon to take the next step with future proof construction.
Building factories is one of those solutions that we desperately need. When houses are factory built, other skilled people are needed. This is an important step in the fight against the shortage of personnel. In addition, building factories makes it possible to build faster, more sustainably and cheaper. As a province, we have the ambition that 50% of the houses be built industrially.
What are the important issues for the province going forward and what solutions do you hope to find at the conference?
During the congress we will outline the main lines: what will the city or village of tomorrow look like? How can we not only meet the challenges, but also ensure a qualitative improvement in the quality of life? I look forward to the opportunity to have this conversation with municipalities, other provinces, the national government and other developers in the region. Together, we are building the towns and villages of tomorrow.
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