Desperation among Coen and Aukje who have to leave the recreation park: ‘Many worries’

Aukje and Coen Bourquin thought they could live in the Dierenbos recreation park for the rest of their lives. Coen has adapted the entire house for his wife, who has suffered two cerebral haemorrhages. Now that the permanent residents have been told that they must leave the park within four years, Coen is in great panic. “We didn’t do this for four years, but for the rest of our lives.”

Profile photo of Jan Waalen

Coen proudly gives a tour of his house where he has adapted everything for his wife Aukje: the shower, the toilet, the kitchen and a passage to the outside so that she can easily go outside with the electric wheelchair. Coen did it all himself, even though he is already 77.

His wife Aukje (78) has just returned from a nine-month rehabilitation after suffering a brain haemorrhage for the second time. Coen and Aukje have been together for 35 years. Since the first brain haemorrhage, about fifteen years ago, Coen has taken care of his Aukje. Despite everything, they are happy in the Animal Forest. “The two of us are doing well.”

Like other permanent residents, Coen and Aukje were offered a new annual contract every year by owner Libema. It explicitly states that the homes are not intended for permanent residence. In 2019, the municipality indicated that it wanted to tackle permanent housing in the park, but this actually created a tolerance structure. People who already lived at Dierenbos before January 24, 2019 were allowed to stay.

“I thought the tolerance order was for the rest of your life.”

Because Coen and Aukje have lived there for twenty years, they were given a toleration decision. Coen therefore thought that they could stay there permanently. “I then adjusted even more. I thought the tolerance order was for the rest of your life.”

The owner of the park, Libema, now wants the permanent residents gone because they only want to allow short recreational stays. Although the residents have an annual contract, Libema still gives the residents four years.

Coen does not see how he will find another home within four years. “I have renovated everything here because it is already very difficult to find a suitable home.” The municipality of Den Bosch has announced to the city council that it wants to assist residents in finding a new home. Many residents find this difficult to believe with the current problems in the housing market.

“We’re just going to stay here until we really have to get out.”

His wife is completely upset by Libema’s letter, says Coen. “I’m mainly concerned about her health now. She’s worried and hasn’t slept all night.” According to Coen, they are too old to move again. “They sometimes say that you shouldn’t move old trees. You shouldn’t do that with us anymore,” he says. Leaving or moving is also not an option. “We’ll just sit here until we really have to get out.”


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