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"Prevent a pandemic in urban development"

Published on 19-03-2020
The Netherlands is under the spell of the corona virus. A B movie in reality. Surreal, unprecedented and insecure for all of us. The consequences are also significant economically. The stock markets heavily in red and entire branches of industry, such as catering, culture and aviation, are (partially) closing their doors. For many other sectors, where possible, work from home.

The boards and directors of urban development organizations (such as investors, developers, municipalities and consultancy, for example) are currently discussing what may await us and how to prepare for it: Is it necessary to postpone investments? Are we introducing a vacancy stop? Are we going to cut drastically? Do we withdraw from risky projects? Questions that many organizations do not yet have an answer to. The consequences for the economy of the corona pandemic are too uncertain.

Looking beyond the corona crisis
It is important to ensure together that we do not end up in the same situation as during the financial crisis when urban development almost came to a standstill. We can partly influence this ourselves. Urban development is a system with an enormous amount of actors. If some of these actors fail or fail, this will quickly have an effect on other actors. Before you know it a domino effect is created. A pandemic in urban development. We must prevent this. In the first place, this means that we must have confidence in the structural strength of our economy and real estate sector. That we look beyond the period of the corona crisis.

The Netherlands is a country with an excellent business climate. A country that will continue to act as a magnet for foreign investors, knowledge workers and migrants in the future. A country where the need for housing, offices and industrial spaces will remain high, and where there is also room for shops, catering and leisure facilities. It is important to operate from this perspective and to continue planning and realizing urban development.

Digital meetings
A large part of the sector currently works from home. In recent years we have been able to get used to this with the "new way of working". Only now digital meetings will be added. This is also possible with our current ICT systems. Not ideal, but doable for a few months. We could consider it the new way of working in optima forma. So working from home does not prevent you from continuing with our work.
SOURCE: Vastgoedjournaal, door de redactie, 19 maart 2020




Keeping confidence
What we as a sector can exert much less influence on is potential loss of demand. In the housing market this can occur due to a decline in consumer confidence and in the corporate housing market due to the postponement of the relocation of companies. On the retail market due to a drop in demand as a result of the forced closure of catering establishments or, in the coming period, the possible closure of unnecessary shops in order to contain the corona virus. But even in the event of a drop in demand, it is crucial that we maintain confidence in the recovery of the real estate market. This prevents the domino effect described earlier and a pandemic in urban development.

A contribution from dr. Pieter van der Heijde, general director of the Urban Planning Bureau