There are many empty office buildings. There is structurally high vacancy of office spaces. The credit crisis has come to an end, causing even more buildings to remain empty. The government has now also discovered that there is a significant problem. That is why she is trying to take measures in the meantime. In practice, it proves difficult to convert office buildings into homes. In the Netherlands, a large part of the office space is structurally empty. This emerged from research by the architect Hilde Remoy. He obtained his PhD on this subject last spring. No less than 13 percent of the office space is structurally vacant. This is because project developers have invested far too much money in the construction of new buildings in recent decades. That was because there seemed to be an unbridled demand for new office space. Another reason why so much has been built is because more can be earned from building offices than from building homes.
Borrow money easily
A third reason for the massive construction of new office buildings was that it was easy to borrow money. As a result, many companies decided to build new premises instead of renovating an old building. The government now realizes that it must do something about the many vacancies. It costs society a lot of money when office buildings are empty. Firstly, the government cannot levy leasehold tax. At the same time, she must pay for all facilities around the office buildings. For example, you can think of the construction of roads or street lighting. The vacancy of buildings also leads to greater social insecurity. An environment is simply safer if there is more control in a neighborhood. This is clearly not the case with vacant buildings.
Measures against vacancy
There are things the government can do to have fewer office buildings built. The first is by making less land available to project developers. Clauses can also be included in the land contracts in which agreements are made that there may be no vacancy. For example, fines could be imposed if there is a vacancy. A final thing the government can do is demolish old office buildings and build housing in their place. However, this is only possible with older office buildings.
Extent of vacancy
There are 6 million square meters of empty office buildings. That’s almost a thousand football fields in total. There are plans for the construction of office buildings that together would provide another 7 million meters of office space. Tineke Huizinga, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, has therefore decided that from now on project developers must first demonstrate that the construction of new office buildings really meets a demand.
Rental of office space
It is often proposed to convert office buildings into homes. In practice, however, this proves difficult. There is a lot of bureaucratic hassle involved because the zoning plan has to be changed at local level. This often takes a lot of time and municipalities are not always prepared to do this. In addition, the renovation itself costs a lot of money, because many facilities that are necessary in a home are not present in an office building. This could include, for example, a shower or a kitchen. That would all have to be constructed. That is why project developers often refrain from converting office buildings into student housing, for example.