Maastricht needs more affordable student accommodation, especially self-contained living quarters. Because that is what many international students want. The city expects that this is the very group that is going to increase in coming years. The temporary accommodation should alleviate the pressure on the housing market for now. “We don't want the same scenes as we had in the previous academic year,” senior policy maker Fred Bunk replies. It appeared that the number of first-year students at Maastricht University was larger than expected. The UM sounded the alarm bell because in November and December 2017 there were still students looking for affordable housing. People said that the city’s prognosis was bad. It was for this reason that the doors were opened to 217 additional rooms at the Annadal complex half a year ago.
Before September 2019 an amount of additional rooms should be realised. The City Council doesn’t call a number, but Maastricht offers space for up to five hundred temporary homes. The largest share is reserved for students. The fourth quarter is for urgent cases, such as people who have just divorced, refugees/asylum seekers with residence permits or those recently graduated/starters.
The alderman responsible, Vivianne Heijnen, does not want to say anything yet about the content of the plans submitted. “To protect the interests of the initiators,” says the council information letter of 1 February. But what can we expect? Cluster accommodation in renovated monuments or office spaces, or “stackable tiny houses”, as Heijnen prefers to call the container dwellings. Policy maker Bunk: “Maybe we will go for one large and a number of smaller campus style locations.” The temporary housing will remain in place for a maximum of ten years.
The ‘winners’ will first have to submit an official permit application. Only after that can the green light be given.
The city has expressed a preference for the Randwijck location. Outside the centre to hide away the students as far as possible? “No, certainly not,” says Heijnen. “It is a misconception that students are not welcome in the city. Almost nowhere else in the Netherlands is there such a high percentage of student rooms in the city centre as there is in Maastricht. Besides that, a national student housing monitor has shown that students like to live in Randwijck.”
A new ‘housing programme for student accommodation’ that includes the city's course until 2024, will be published in spring. In doing so the city is discarding its present document, which runs until 2020, but is no longer up to date.