In a ruling given on 3 October 2017, the court of Amsterdam has annulled the permits granted to the owner of the 'Heineken Hoek' in Amsterdam to construct a hotel on the premises. The Heineken Hoek is a bar, restaurant and venue and an Amsterdam landmark located at bustling Leidseplein.
The matter concerns a new hotel initiative called 'Heineken Hoek Hotel'. The municipality of Amsterdam has granted an environmental permit in 2016 to demolish the old building and a building permit to build a new property. The new property would provide for a mixed use as a grand café and a 4-star hotel.
The court ruled that the environmental permit should not have been granted before the building permit has become irrevocable and that the building permit was granted in conflict with the policy rules for hotel developments of the municipality. 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 (including presence of public transport and similar facilities, the availability of parking space, demonstrable financial feasibility and a quality impulse to the property and the area).
The court determined that the municipality has not investigated or demonstrated sufficiently the likely influence of the new hotel on the area, by failing to investigate nuisance factors such as litter, the number of visitors and the expected influence of the hotel on adjoining properties.
These shortcomings justify the concern that this project may disproportionally affect the characteristics of the cityscape and the urban structure, according to the court. That means that the project may not be in compliance with the policy rules for hotel developments so that both permits should be reconsidered.
The Heineken Hoek Hotel is one of the last initiatives under the old hotel policy. The municipality has 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 (but only in some designated areas of the city) it concerns a special initiative that complies with the conditions of and fits in the planning assessment framework of the municipality. 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 are eligible for a permit.