Utrecht to ban (most) cars from newest residential district
The city of Utrecht, together with Amsterdam, is determined to ban the car from their city centers. On Thursday, local authorities of Utrecht and several project developers signed an agreement for an experimental but ambitious housing project along the Merwede Channel. The project is meant to become the first (almost) car-free zone in the Netherlands.
Future inhabitants of the ten thousand new houses will be forced to use alternative means of transport or shared cars. The project only provides 0,3 parking places, mainly intended for visitors. It’s the first time a building project has such a low parking standard outside the city center.
Sustainability is the starting point, also from other points of view. The living zone has to be self-supporting for energy, with the largest heat and cold storage in the Netherlands, and three hectares of solar panels on the roofs. The remaining space on the roofs is used for plants.
“Merwede will be the city district of the 21st century,” says chairman Kees Diepeveen (GroenLinks). “We mainly focus on green. That is what inhabitants need in a city that is increasingly condensed.”
Those who are really attached to their own car, better look for another place to live. The goal of the project is to avoid the use of cars. And if people need to, they can use a shared car from one of the mobility hubs in the neighborhood where hundreds of cars will be available.
Surrounding neighbors fear for parking nuisance due to the banning of cars in the new living area. Utrecht is increasingly inaccessible for cars. Is Utrecht wishful thinking by building so many new houses in a relatively small area without taking into account any additional cars?
Diepeveen doesn’t think so. In the surrounding areas, parking lots are to be paid to prevent the so-called ‘waterbed effect’. “Besides, other new living areas have shown that a lot of parking space remains unused.”
Mixed living area
Those who are looking for a place to live in Utrecht don’t have any choice anyhow. According to the chairman, less wealthy families are welcome in this mixed living area with 30% of social rental homes or private property up to 300.000 euros (970 euros/month).