On 3 October 2017, the court of Amsterdam annulled the permits to construct a hotel on the premises of the Amsterdam landmark 'Heineken Hoek'. The Heineken Hoek is a renowned bar, restaurant and venue located at bustling Leidseplein.
The matter involved a new hotel initiative called 'Heineken Hoek Hotel', which would be used as a grand café and a 4-star hotel. In 2016, the municipality of Amsterdam granted the owner of the Heineken Hoek an environmental permit to demolish the old building and a building permit to build a new structure.
The court ruled that because the building permit was granted in conflict with the policy rules for hotel developments of the municipality, the environmental permit should not have been granted until the building permit was final. At the time of granting the permit, these policy rules required new hotel initiatives to add considerable value to the hotel area and to comply with certain planning, quality and economic criteria such as the availability of public transport, similar facilities, and parking spaces; demonstrable financial feasibility; and a quality impulse to the property and the area.
The court determined that the municipality had not sufficiently investigated or demonstrated the likely influence of the new hotel on the area because it failed to investigate nuisance factors such as litter, the number of visitors and the expected influence of the hotel on adjoining properties. The court found that these shortcomings justified concerns that this project may disproportionally affect the characteristics of the cityscape and the urban structure, and the project may not be in compliance with the policy rules for hotel developments. On that basis, the court decided that both permits should be reconsidered.
The Heineken Hoek Hotel is one of the last initiatives under the old hotel policy. The municipality has since implemented a new, stricter hotel policy that came into force on 1 January 2017. As of 1 January 2017, the city will no longer provide its co-operation to new hotel initiatives within the city boundaries. This means that, in principle, no new hotels can be constructed, no existing properties can be transformed into hotels and no rooms can be added to existing properties; unless i) the hotel is located in a specially designated area of the city, and ii) it concerns a special initiative that complies with the conditions of the municipality’s planning assessment framework. Only hotel initiatives that demonstrably form an extraordinary contribution to the existing hotel offering in Amsterdam and contribute special features to the social, cultural or economic climate in the city will be eligible for a permit.
If you would like any more information on this topic, please contact Roman Tarlavski or Lisanne van der Velden.