Residents of Lent need to clear out for large student housing complex

05 Dec 2022

The municipality of Nijmegen wants a large housing complex to be built next to the Nijmegen-Lent railway station, with room for 450 students and young graduates. The houses of the current residents must be demolished to do so.

The municipality of Nijmegen has grand building plans for the Spoorstraat in Lent. Currently, this is a dead-end street with detached houses, wedged between the railway and the Hof van Holland neighbourhood under construction. Within a few years, a housing complex for as many as 450 students and recent graduates is to be built there. Last year, the municipality conducted a research to explore that plan.

The outcome is that there should be four buildings: a thirteen-storey tower for graduates and three lower buildings (four to seven floors) for students. The whole complex should accommodate 300 students and 150 graduates. The SSH& will rent out the student flats.

‘Such a large complex can never be built in the city or on campus, but here you can’

To make construction possible, the current zoning plan has to be amended. The municipality is now working on that. The government has pledged to contribute two million euros to the project. That subsidy is meant for housing projects for special target groups, in this case students. In addition, under the guise of retaining talent in the city, the tower will be built for recent graduates.

Right next to the railway station

SSH& director-director Kees Stunnenberg is enthusiastic about the plans. ‘We have the task of building a thousand more student houses before 2030. Such a large complex can never be built in the city or on campus, but here you can.’

But do students really want to live in the northern part of Nijmegen, for the time being mainly a haven for young families fleeing the city? Stunnenberg is not worried about that. ‘The location is right next to the railway station and the new Hof van Holland district will have all kinds of amenities.’ The popular Waal beaches are around the corner and the city is within cycling distance.

When designing the buildings, however, noise pollution from the railway and busy arterial roads must be taken into account. ‘This can be done, for instance, by creating enclosed courtyards so that residents still have a nice outdoor space’, says Stunnenberg.

Matts Nijman in front of his anti-squatting home. Photo: Bert Beelen

The construction of the residential towers does have a downside. The houses on the Spoorstraat have to be demolished. Five of them are still owned by the current residents. These have to be bought up or, in the extreme case, expropriated from the current residents.

Second city centre of Nijmegen

Student Matts Nijman, master’s student in communication science, has been living at the Spoorstraat while anti-squatting since 2020. He shares his detached house with one roommate, who also studies at Radboud University.

He fully understands the municipality’s desire to build student housing on Spoorstraat. ‘You may feel less like living in the middle of the city here, but the city centre is ten minutes away by bike.’

‘It will probably not hurry along too fast so I can maybe live here for two more years’

From his shared living room, he overlooks the Citadelcollege (a high school in Lent, ed.) and the cranes in Lent. There, property developers are building what should become Nijmegen’s ‘second centre’. There will be shops, restaurants and other amenities.

When Nijman moved to the Spoorstraat almost three years ago, he already had a quick move in the back of his mind. ‘But then covid came and all construction projects were delayed.’ Through the municipality, Nijman has been told to leave next summer at the earliest. ‘It will probably not hurry along too fast, so I can maybe live here for two more years. That would be very nice, because I still need that time to graduate.’

He likes living in Lent. ‘I pay around 400 euros, most of which is for energy. In the city you only have a room for that, I have a whole house. Because the house is detached, we can do whatever we want. We never get any complaints during parties.’

Translated by Jan Scholten.

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