What’s the latest news on Alkmaar? Today it’s time for an update. Can I stay? Will I get neighbors or not? I’ll try to shed some light in the darkness. Appropriate for this season, isn’t it? A little light for dark hours :)
After good deliberations with Aldermen Anjo van der Ven and Jan Nagengast from the municipality of Alkmaar, they’ve given me their blessing and trust to execute the pilot project for five Tiny Houses for a period of five years. For this pilot I’ll work together with Tiny House Nederland – the national platform for the Tiny House movement in the Netherlands. The pilot in Alkmaar can set an example for Tiny House projects in other locations. Those projects will be started by local initiators, yet they can use our accumulated knowledge and experience, and we will gladly share them. For Alkmaar, this is also a great learning opportunity. Without the municipality we wouldn’t have been able to do this project and, needless to say, I’m very happy with this collaboration!
For an organizational structure, I’ve chosen a housing cooperative. I could have chosen a foundation or other legal organization form, but for me a cooperative is the best structure. And there is a lot of governmental interest in housing cooperatives. This will be a little different from the housing cooperative as declared in the housing law, because we won’t be buying or managing houses from a housing corporation or housing association. We will be managing land from the municipality and want to create and manage communal facilities (like a vegetable garden and small shed). At a later point I’ll tell you more about my reasons for choosing a housing cooperative.
Who will be my neighbors?
Since May 2016 I’m living in my little piece of paradise in Alkmaar. Because the municipality got so many applications from interested citizens, they asked Tiny House Nederland to coordinate these applications. We’ve put an application form on the website and have received over 370 applications. From those, I’ve selected a group of 5 enthusiastic go-getters who know what the project entails, share the core values and have the ability to build their own Tiny House. Together we are working on establishing the housing cooperative. Marloes, Michel, Martje, Marja and Lan introduce themselves on the new website that has gone online this weekend:
But when will they finally come to live here? As you may know, the water board Hollands Noorderkwartier has made a formal protest against the environmental permit for the pilot project. You can read why in this blog.Despite many attempts by the municipality to find a golden mean with the water board, they are unwilling to withdraw their protest. This is being judged by the protest board from the municipality and I expect a decision this month. And then what happens? If the municipality decides the protest is substantiated, well, then that’s that. I don’t expect this however, because even the province has indicated that this terrain can have a destination for residential use. If the protest is deemed unsubstantiated, the water board can accept this and hurray, we can take off! Or they can decide to protest that decision. Let’s all cross our fingers they won’t, because this process can take months or even years. I still think we can have a beautiful collaboration with the water board as partner in the pilot project; it just makes sense. Experimenting with a decentralized organization of water facilities, I can picture it already!
In the meantime, we’re not just sitting still with our eyes closed and our fingers crossed. We’re hopefully assuming things will work out, and I hope to welcome my first neighbor in February. Marja could live here from February and is really eager to, and Marloes could follow shortly after that. Lan’s House still has to be built, and Martje and Michel will build their own house so they’ll probably be last to join us. We have meetings on a weekly basis to discuss the establishment of the cooperative; lots of matters need to be aligned and recorded. I’m busy finding partners and interns to get involved: we can learn so much from this project and share our knowledge and experiences – that’s the goal. We want to be an example for the Netherlands and want our results to lay the foundation for more Tiny House locations in Alkmaar.
At this point it’s not possible to join the housing cooperative and live in your own Tiny House on our terrain. The five spots have already been filled and there’s a short waiting list. If this changes we will let you know through our newsletter, so please sign up! You’re also welcome to sign up if you don’t want to participate in the project but just want to stay informed. You can sign up here:
In March I’m restarting my monthly open houses and we will also be organising open days with the pilot project. We are eager to show you what we’re doing and willing to share the Tiny House philosophy. I’m looking forward to not having to do this all by myself! It’s so much more fun when you’re together! But first let’s make it through the dark days of December. I’ll make an update very soon on my energy and water supply. See you then!