Photographer:Fotograaf: container units in Amsterdam
Two options for temporary student accommodation
MAASTRICHT. On Tuesday evening, Maastricht University presented to the city council a second solution for the shortage of affordable student rooms: expansion of the Annadal Campus. In December, the university already argued in favour of 250 container units in Randwyck. Asked which option was preferable, Nick Bos, vice-president of the UM’s Executive Board answered: “The most feasible one.”
Time appears to be the main factor in this dossier. Vice-president Nick Bos wants to have additional temporary accommodations ready before 15 August to prevent new problems. Last December, the university sounded the alarm: more than in previous years, students were still looking for suitable, and in particular affordable, rooms in the months of November and December. “We have appealed to the city council; after all, the city is the main party responsible for the housing policy for all its citizens,” he explained in his presentation.
The city council acknowledges the housing peak problem and had a quick scan carried out in the past few weeks of a number of large complexes, including Randwycksingel 22, the school building at Sint Theresiaplein 20, the former Mercedes Benz call centre at the Gaetano Martinolaan, and the Tebodin building at the Franciscus Romanusweg. None of these options meet the demands. This leaves two options: 250 container units in Randwyck (the former Calatrava Campus site) or additional rooms in the Annadal Campus, behind the courthouse, which already contains the Guesthouse.
The intended container units previously stood in Amsterdam, as part of a large complex behind the Bijlmer prison. As they needed to be removed after ten years, they could now be shipped to Maastricht. Students would ultimately pay a monthly rent of about 250 to 300 euro. But there are great doubts whether the project could be finished by August. “How quickly could the city switch to make this possible?” the city council wondered. “The Randwyck project does not comply with the zoning scheme,” says alderman Gert-Jan Krabbendam, responsible for housing. “A maximum of three floors is allowed there.” The container units need to be stacked up to five layers high. This would demand an adaptation of the zoning scheme. An accelerated procedure would be problematic, because – among other things - soil research would be required, the alderman explains. “I am not 100 per cent sure whether we would manage that.”
The Annadal project sounds more realistic. This would be an internal expansion of 100 to 135 dependent rooms in a building that already houses students. In addition, the UM is counting on a temporary expansion of approximately 125 rooms in another building that is currently on the list for demolition. The owner has agreed, says Bos, but in this case the zoning scheme would have to be adapted too: from independent to dependent living units. Rents would be higher than in Randwyck, though: 350 to 450 euro.
Public support in the surrounding neighbourhoods was also discussed. Bos: “We already have students at Annadal and if my information is correct, things are running fine there. I think that the impact would be the least there.”
The proposals are being detailed, with the emphasis on how quickly the wheels could be set into motion. The UM will (if necessary) fund and develop the project from its own means and also run and supervise the project.