Will the permit granted for the construction of a new hotel in Bergen aan Zee stand or not? The Council of State is considering that question today. For the objectors, the session is a milestone: “This is the outcome of six years of asking for real participation and the first real form of participation in this project,” says the Verontruste Bewonersgroep Bergen aan Zee.
Ineke Aronds speaks on behalf of the resident group, surrounded by a large stack of documents on her dining table, in her home just behind the current hotel Nassau in Bergen aan Zee. “And these are just the papers for the Council of State, you know. Upstairs in the guest room I still have ten meters of files against the wall.”
The owner/developer of the outdated Hotel Nassau wants to demolish the building and build a new, modern hotel – New Nassau – in the same place on the dune. It is a hotel building with an apartment complex. Last November, the municipal council granted the environmental permit stating that there outside the applicable zoning plan may be built. The objection (appeal procedure, ed.) against that permit is currently being lodged with the Council of State.
“The battle really started in 2017,” recalls Aronds. “At first only some sketches were known, but it soon became clear to us that this was going to be a much larger hotel than it is now. That has been denied for years. There was talk of a few centimeters more, but we think it will be 15 meters higher .”
Not against new hotel
Aronds emphasizes that a majority of the residents of the beach village are not against a new hotel. “We have never been. We are concerned with preserving the small scale of Bergen aan Zee. The current plan does not fit here in terms of volume.”
“In addition, there is not enough parking space at this hotel and the building casts a constant shadow on the Red Square at the main beach entrance. There is also construction in the dune, which is part of the Nature network in the Netherlands, and completely outside the applicable zoning plan and the structural vision. Also striking: no permit would be required for nitrogen emissions.”
Perhaps what stings the Worst most is the lack of participation. “In recent years we have constantly asked for information and conversations with the municipality. They refused. WOB requests were delivered too late and incomplete, we also went to court for that. And a promised conversation with the alderman has never came.”
“Have a conversation with us. Then you will usually find a solution together”
“It feels like an indescribable injustice being done to you. The fact that we were now allowed to submit opinions to the court against the environmental permit granted is actually the first time that we have been heard; the first real form of participation. That it had to come this far , I think it’s very bad. Talk to us. Then you can usually work it out together.”
Ineke Aronds has spent at least 20 hours a week on it in recent years. “Hours that I have not been able to spend on my work, my art dealership. Tropical years still sound good. Really, it gets under your skin that disbelief about how the game is played. I keep being dismissed as ‘that angry neighbor’, a nimby with a troll army.”
“I’ve thought a hundred times: I’m quitting. But that’s not how I’m put together. And I’m not alone, I have a team of ten people that helps me. You will become a biter. I’ve been to all council meetings You hear an alderman say to the council: ‘It will be fine, you can participate in the decision-making process. But nothing could be further from the truth.’
The Concerned Residents Group works together with the Bergen aan Zee Foundation. “They also stand for small-scale and they arrange the finances for all lawyer costs. That is quite expensive, I can tell you. So all help is welcome.”
“And with the petition with more than 11,000 signatories and our poll, which shows that more than half of the 400 households in Bergen aan Zee want a hotel within the zoning plan, we feel very supported in the fight.”
According to Aronds, the ruling of the Council of State will soon be important for the village. “Eight appeals have now been submitted, including ours. I hope that the Council takes a wise decision and says that it must be over completely. Because if this is allowed, you will set a precedent that soon everything on the boulevard will be informed. in may.”
According to a spokesman for the municipality, there is ‘a lot of scope for participation and participation by the initiator and the municipal executive’. “This was a major focus.”
“Including the design and selection of an architect. In addition, the initiator has set up a Reflection Group to actively involve the residents and entrepreneurs of Bergen aan Zee in the plans.”
“The Reflection Group was crazy,” responds Ineke Aronds of the Residents’ Group. “You were only allowed to talk about enriching the plan. We didn’t go along with that because it was immediately said in advance that nothing could be changed in the current construction plan.”
And about the choice of an architect: “There was no participation. Four of the five members of the jury were from the municipality.”
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