Owl couple in the ridge of Zandvoort riding school: housing construction is delayed

A pair of owls in the ridge of an old riding school in Zandvoort is in the way of a new construction project. The riding school must make way for the construction of houses on the edge of the dune area. As long as the protected barn owls live there, demolition may not start yet.

Photo: Barn Owl. Photo: Barn Owl Working Group Hoorn

It is not known how much delay the plan will experience. “But the fact is that this will take longer,” says a spokesperson for the municipality of Zandvoort. Demolition workers had already started the remediation last year. It was stopped when someone saw the owl couple. Upon inspection, it turned out that not only owls, but also barn swallows were nesting in the old stable of the Rückert riding school. These birds are also protected.


At the request of the North Holland North Environment Agency, the municipality of Zandvoort is now preparing to relocate the birds. Nest boxes will be hung in the new location. Real estate specialist Hans Blaak from the municipality of Zandvoort expects that the birds will be able to move ‘within the next year and a half’. This does not mean that demolition can immediately resume. The municipality has to wait three months. Blaak: “If I understand correctly, it is because in the beginning there is a chance that the birds will return to their old nest.”

Text continues under the photo.

Photo: The riding school. Fred Segaar/NH Media

It is not the first time that a project in Zandvoort has been delayed after protected animals were discovered. After a long delay, the renovation of the De Krocht theater will only start this spring. There were bats in the building.

‘Takes a long time’

“People in Zandvoort sometimes complain that it always takes so long here before anything gets off the ground,” sighs a spokesperson for the municipality. “Well, partly because of things like this.” He emphasizes that it is completely justified and legally established that construction projects are halted for this reason. “But it does indicate what kinds of things we encounter before we can get started.”

Young barn owls

In the meantime, the owl couple has not cared about the excitement about their presence in the ridge of the former riding school. Ruud Leblanc, chairman of the Netherlands Church Owl Foundation, says that they are doing well. “Last summer, young barn owls were spotted at that location.”