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Fewer social buildings: Subsidised Housing in Bonn dwindling

Fewer social buildings : Subsidised Housing in Bonn dwindling

The IG Bau union warns of further decrease in support housing figures. The number of social accommodation in Bonn is currently around 10,000, the amount of planning permissions are declining.

Affordable apartments are a scarce commodity in large cities. In Bonn as well. Despite the situation the industrial union for construction, agriculture and environment - the IG Bau - reported a significant decline in planning permissions in 2018 in North Rhine-Westphalia in their bi-annual résumé. According to the IG Bau, the building of only 238 new apartments was approved between January and July this year - a decrease of over 30 percent in comparison to the first half of 2017.

Overall, the number of employees in communal building authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia was reduced by 43 percent between 1995 and 2010, and by another five percent between 2011 and 2016. The chairman of the IG Bau Cologne-Bonn, Mehmet Perisan, referred to the latest numbers from the German Federal Statistical Office. A dilemma, especially because many subsidised apartments fall out of the binding conditions and can be offered on the market for much higher rents.

According to the city council’s vice spokesperson Marc Hoffmann, many apartments over the past few years fell out of binding conditions due to planned and unplanned payback of promotional loans. „Due to the low-interest phase we cannot expect this trend to decrease.“ In Bonn there are currently only 10,000 subsidised apartments, about seven percent of all housing stock in the city. Between twelve and 14 percent is considered necessary. „This means the demand for affordable living space is only covered by half in Bonn“, said Hoffmann.

Due to the sociodemographic development in comparison to the current housing stock in Bonn the situation could aggravate. The crux of the matter: The amount of planning permissions is also depending on the amount of building applications, over which the city council has no influence. „The authorities can merely create a basis for the applications by creating the necessary planning regulations“, said Hoffmann. Asked about the staff situation in his building authority, head of the municipal planning and building control office Helmut Wiesner replied: „More is always possible. Especially when complex permission procedures for large construction projects - of which we do have some in Bonn - demand a lot of attention, staff and time. But we also have to keep an eye on the staff profitability.“

Another problem is the limited spare sites in Bonn. „We are counting on the interior development and building sites capitalisation.“ The number of the parallel-running individual site plan processes as well as the acquisition and cancellation of non-contemporary development plan procedures is being promoted with enforced staff deployment. Wiesner: „That led to building permission for more than 1,200 units in 2017.“

Despite all efforts it will be rather difficult though to increase or at least keep this level in the medium and long term planning. „The interior development of the city and the connected compression of living space naturally leads to conflicts which make the necessary development plans more complicated and lengthy“, he said. Compression should comply with the strategy of „double interior development“ (the concurrent ecological upgrading of inner-city free space). „It thus doesn’t automatically overcome the scepticism of those who have living space and now have to go along with the changes in their neighbourhood“, he explained.

With Bonn’s building site model there has been created now an instrument with which the urgently required need for subsidised and thus affordable living space can be met. This way the deficiency of the properties falling out of the binding conditions can at least partly be made up for.

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen / Translation: Mareike Graepel)