Save the Lutkemeer polder!
Trapped between Schiphol airport and Amsterdam lies the ‘Lutkemeerpolder’. The west part has been in use for agriculture over the past 100 years. Nowadays mainly organic crops are grown on the fertile clayground.
Developer SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company), of which Amsterdam and Schiphol are both important stakeholders, plans to destroy this beautiful area so they can build warehouses and a distribution-centre in the future.
The polder is unique for Amsterdam: the landscaping still shows the historical acre patterns and reminds of former times, when agriculture was more a part of Amsterdam city. It is the last fertile ground most suitable for growing crops. It borders with the ecological main structure and captures typical Dutch flatland views. Together with the monumental orchard, it’s a unique ensemble.
Behoud Lutkemeer resists the building plans. An alternative plan is developed: Plan Biopolder. Biopolder is a plan devised by entrepreneurs and other involved parties to present a different vision of the Lutkemeerpolder. A proposal to increase the value of the polder from an ecological perspective. Facilitate an increase in biodiversity, climate-adaptation, and to use the ground for what it’s meant: food production. Give space for the renewal of the food-chain, local production and processing that will be distributed in a CO2 neutral manner throughout the city. All of this open to the public in the service of education, recreation and healthcare. A beautiful opportunity for the city without the need for any investment. All she needs to do is change her zoning plans.
We challenged the zoning plans and object the asked building permit. Feel like helping out and sent in a letter to the city council? You can file an objection here:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you resist the development of a new industrial area in the Lutkemeerpolder?
The Lutkemeerpolder is an area with a important function with regards to biodiversity, CO2 collection, local food provision and natural recreation. In the middle of this area is the only biological agricultural farm in Amsterdam: Boerderij de Boterbloem. There is no urgent reason to destroy the last fertile grounds of Amterdam in favor of a industrial area. The wish to redevelop this area comes from investors, not the company’s that want to settle in this area. Within the city limits of Amsterdam their is sufficient space for development, upgrading and more industrial area.
Why is the Lutkemeerpolder important for the climate?
Green spaces in cities fulfill a very important role in the negation of climate change. We should aim to increase the amount of green spaces instead of filling them with concrete. What we are dealing with here is 43 hectares of traditional “polder”, with parts of biological agriculture. This area contributes to temperature decrease, co2 storage, water storage and keeping the biodiversity intact. Every month multiple endangered species of birds are spotted. The food that is being harvested here is easily transported to the consumers and markets in the cities. This saves a lot of fuel emissions for transport. Citizens and their kids can also experience how their food is being made and help with the harvest. This contributes to the awareness of our food, nature and planet.
Growth is one of the biggest problems in climate change. Extraction of resources for development is an important element of that. Especially if this happens in a green area. The companies that will be build on these “greenfields” are mostly big polluters that contribute to the emission of green house gasses. The Municipality says they want to be circular, they cant force the company’s that are gonna stay there to do so.
Is it really the last fertile ground?
For agricultural activities yes! All the surrounding green in Amsterdam is clay ground, that is unsuitable for agriculture because of the consistency and water levels. The Lutkemeerpolder has been unearthed in 1865 and exists of for sea clay. An exemplary type of ground for food based agriculture. Especially in regards to climate change and dry summers; in the polder it hasn’t rained much in the last year, but because the sea clay has a special capillary function that drags up groundwater and makes it available to the plant.
The decision has been made: is there no way back?
The city of Amsterdam is in charge: She has 25% invested in the project development company and owns 50% of the ground. And where there is a will, there’s a way. There is a broad sentiment to get to a solution. A green and left college should jump at the chance to make a change. By talking about keeping the space, you go into a conversation about obstacles that can be worked out together. The biggest obstacle at this moment is that the college refuses to think with us and continues with the “business as usual”.
Who owns the ground?
GEM BV is the owner of the ground. This is a BV that the Gemeente started to keep the ground. The Gemeente owns half the ground, the other half is owned by the SADC. GEM BV is supposed to develop the ground and sell it with ground lease. The Gemeente has the possibility to buy back the ground lease when the whole area has been developed.
What is SADC?
SADC stands for Schiphol Area Developent Company. This BV was started by the city of Amsterdam, Haarlemmermeer, the province of Noord-Holland in the eighties. The goal was to coordinate the development of the area around Schiphol. Usually a regular project developer with hundreds of hectares of ground would try to sell it as separate lots. While SADC is a private endeavor, investors have used millions coming from public funds in the projects. At the end of 2017 another loan of 13 million got granted to the SADC. This time because, amongst other things, because the banks didn’t want to finance high risk projects like Lutkemeer. SADC has focused over the last couple of years on improving it’s public image. A broader portfolio, circular projects, glossy magazines, neighbourhood initiatives and participation in studies has to veil what they are actually doing: selling agricultural land as construction.
Why are you talking about greenwashing?
Both the city of Amsterdam and the developer SADC create and image of a green and circulair industrial area. This is nothing else than a sales pitch: first of all construction on fertile agricultural ground not circular, it destroys more then it ads ecologically. Adding to this is that the city of Amsterdam has little say in the proceedings because there are very little binding requirements and the buyers are self-building. The purpose of construction in the polder is selling lots and making money, and that’s the priority.
Why do you speak about corruption?
A part of the ground has been bought by a speculator (SEKU BV) for more than 4 times the price. By cooperating with Ton Hooijmaijers (deputy convicted of corruption) CEO Jelle Kuiper managed to get a hold of the ground and sell it for a lot of money (prior knowledge of circumstance). The city didn’t only pay the full price, she also granted SEKU the right to develop 33% of the polder and to get 20% of all profits made during the whole proceeding.
These extra clauses are written in the cooperation agreement. Ton Hooijmaijers has received the money from Jelle Kuiper to “consult” on this agreement.
Jelle Kuiper is arraigned in court in April for these reasons.
What is Lutkemeer 1 and why isn’t it “full”?
The eastern part of the Lutkemeerpolder has been prepared in 2003 for the sale industrial lots. in 2008 it was the turn of Lutkemeer 3 (the part we are talking about) to start development. At the time this was stopped and the agreement was made to not start any proceedings until Lutkemeer 1 was ready.
This is not the case; at the moment -15 years after the start of the sales- 5,5 hectares are empty. That 25% of the terrain.
Do they really need the ground to build a industrial area?
The coming years there will be a lot of construction in the city. For the most part housing that will be build on locations that will be rezoned from area’s that are currently industrial. For the relocation of these company’s the Lutkemeerpolder is not really necessary. There is a lot of space available in Havens West and by upgrading those, and other area’s in the city, space would become available. That would be a true circular point of view.
However, this doesn’t happen because it is more interesting for investors to build from scratch. It’s all about the money.
What is your proposal?
Biopolder is a plan devised by entrepreneurs and other involved parties to present a different vision of the Lutkemeerpolder. A proposal to increase the value of the polder from an ecological perspective. Facilitate an increase in biodiversity, climate adaptation, and to use the ground for what it’s meant: food production. Give space for the renewal of the food chain, local production and processing that will be distributed in a CO2 neutral manner throughout the city. All of this open to the public in the service of education, recreation and healthcare.
A beautiful opportunity for the city without the need for any investment. All she needs to do is change her zoning plans.
It would cost to much to quit now right?
Without any factual backing the city has exclaimed that it will cost 42 million to keep the polder the way it is. This is allegedly ruled by claims and missed revenue. There is a lot to be said about this amount. The claims are very vague. If it would be instead about a private party like SEKU there would be different ways to avoid such claims, according to lawyers. And claims van SADC are also complex, the city is a part of SADC too.
Missed revenue is also a vague claims. It would be based on a 100% revenue over the maximum price. After fifteen years Lutkemeer 1 has proven that this is not a given. Let’s also not forget that city already made a firm profit by selling the ground to GEM: 43 million.
The most important thing is that the city is preparing to spend money on this ground. To make the agricultural land workable, firm investments have to be made with regards to infrastructure, approximately 1 million. Keeping the land would be profitable straight away.
Different social investors are prepared buy the ground to keep it available for ecological agriculture. This means that with a clear financial picture it would be easy to repay the money. By investigating the different possibility’s with the city we could achieve much.
Why is there a request for landscape protection?
The original plot pattern on this part of the polder is still intact. Fields surround by motes, slightly curved and not broader then 40 meters so that the natural drainage system of surplus water takes place and a underground drainage is unnecessary. The southwestern part of Amsterdam is traditionally agricultural land, and the Lutkemeerpolder has been marked as the “feeding grounds” of the city during the design process of the Tuinsteden by van Eeghen.
What happpens now?
At the end of march the tuinen-plan will start. We call for people to protect and take care of a small part of the land by using the land for the growth of food in the community garden or claiming a small part for their own. Facilities are present on the terrain and there are regular activity’s. Express your solidarity by attending and showing up and showing that the ground is important for the city.
How can we stop this now?
Tell the story! Let people know what is happening and how a different narrative is maintained where the city acts like there are no other options. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, even if the process has been going on for years. The times have changed significantly since the process was first started twenty years ago. Climate change requires a different approach, and that is still possible.
Participate in our actions and assemblies, follow us on social media and through our website and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest developments. And don’t forget: “People have the power to redeem the work of fools”.
Meanwhile a request for another city plan is done in favour of Plan Biopolder, our alternative. Research is done to calculate the different values from the polder, other than just selling it. And a CO2 reduction plan is made to monitor the polder: what will happen in case this fertile ground will be turned to a building site in terms of CO2 emissions.