Free building, but not free of obligation

The municipalities of Almere and Zeewolde are happy to offer as much space and freedom as possible to people who want to build a home themselves, as can be seen in the Polderwijk (Zeewolde) and Homeruskwartier (Almere) among other places. In Oosterwold, the rural area on either side of the A27, the municipalities are going a step further. Here the area development will be left entirely to individual initiative. This means that, in principle, every initiator can choose any place and decide how big the plot will be. The size of the building is also free, as too is its function. In this, both municipalities are working closely with the Central Government Real Estate and Development Agency to make this plan a success.

 So what the area will look like will be determined by the initiators and not by the authorities, who are taking a large step back. This means that what the authorities normally do, will now have to be arranged and paid for by the initiators themselves, such as energy, water purification and connection to the road network. So the freedom not only involves extra physical work but also administrative work in obtaining the right permits.

Rules
However small the role of the authorities may be, there are certain procedures and regulations that cannot be avoided. To begin with, there are a number of rules to which initiators must adhere. You can find these rules, and further information, in the Intermunicipal Structural vision for Oosterwold (Intergemeentelijke Structuurvisie voor Oosterwold), drawn up by the municipalities. This can be downloaded from www.maakoosterwold.nl.

Why rules?
On the one hand, the authorities are taking a step back; on the other hand there are still a lot of rules that apply. A logical question that we are fairly often asked by potential initiators is why these rules cannot be relaxed too.  The answer is simple: rules provide clarity. After all, one person’s freedom may mean that someone else loses their freedom. Perhaps land-use plans do limit the possibilities of initiators but they also provide them with certainty regarding what is happening in their immediate surroundings. For example, whoever wants to build in a rural area must leave a large part of the plot free from development and allow space for vegetation, but that also applies to the neighbours. And most people who ask about that have to admit that it’s a nice idea. 

Legal procedures
In addition to that, the usual legal procedures regarding land-use plans and permits also apply.

Access road
In principle, every initiator is responsible for the construction of an access road to join your plot of land to the existing section of the road network. This access road will be on the edge of the plot; half of it will extend over the land of the neighbouring plot. This access road will be unadopted, meaning that you, and your neighbour, will be responsible for its maintenance.

Green areas and water
Public green areas As you can read in the structural vision, a section of each plot will be laid out as a public green area. The anterior agreement will stipulate that the initiator is responsible for maintenance and access to the public green area for pedestrians and (possibly) cyclists. Fencing between the public and private sections must be paid for by the initiator.

Water management facilities
If there are ditches or other waterways on the initiator’s plot, the initiator is then obliged to always grant access to the water board or the province for maintenance work. Furthermore, it will be agreed that a two metre-wide strip will remain free of structures on either side of each ditch to facilitate maintenance or other work.