“Pre-war buildings are being torn down for energy efficiency”

'No trespassing asbestos' at a demolition site. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Heritage organisations are concerned about how many pre-WWII buildings are being demolished in an effort to make the Netherlands’ housing stock more energy efficient. 

Thousands of characteristic homes are being knocked down in the rush to go green, the AD reported on Wednesday.

Figures from the land registry office show over 95,000 homes built before 1940 have been torn down over the past 10 years. There are currently 1.5 million pre-WWII buildings on the register. 

“Energy efficiency is often used as the argument to demolish buildings,” said Karel Loeff, director of heritage association Erfgoedvereniging Bond Heemschut.

“Demolition is often cheaper, but we think taking steps to boost sustainability is a better option. It might be more complex, but it is the way to keep something which is valuable and characteristic of the Netherlands.”

 “In The Hague they are planning to demolish entire post-war neighbourhoods and replace them with high density housing, and you are erasing part of history,” he said.

Rotterdam housing corporation Vestia, for example is demolishing hundreds of homes in the Tweebos neighbourhood. Vestia argues that the area was in need of an upgrade and the buildings were in poor repair.

However, when completed, the neighbourhood will only have the current number of rent-controlled homes. The situation is similar in the Jericho district of Amersfoort, where the housing corporation has decided to demolish the homes rather than update them. 

The issue is not just pressing in the bigger cities. It is particularly an issue in the suburbs and in smaller towns and villages, Loeff said. 

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