Science - November 22, 2007

Students squat in old tax office

The old tax office building in the Marijkeweg in Wageningen has been occupied by squatters. On Monday evening 19 November, a group of about thirty people, including many students, took over the building. They say there is too little affordable accommodation in Wageningen and that speculators and anti-squat organisations like Interim Vastgoedbeheer are contributing to the housing shortage.

Candles and cycle lamps provided light as squatters took over the old tax office in Wageningen on Monday evening.
The big office block has been empty for years. It was sold at the end of 2003 for 1.2 million euros to the property development company 4MAX in Ede. Real-estate agents Interim have only occasionally put temporary tenants, ‘anti-squat guards’, in the building. The squatters were fed up with the building standing empty. ‘Speculation like this perpetuates the housing shortages, and students are the ones who suffer,’ said one of the students involved in the action.

Interim Vastgoedbeheer was not happy with the squatters’ action and arrived the next day with eight strong men. They told the squatters in an intimidating way to leave the building. The students regarded this as a domestic disturbance and called the police. Outside the building the situation escalated when both sides started taking photos. The public prosecutor sent in by the police decided in the end that the squatters could stay. Interim Vastgoedbeheer was not prepared to comment.

The owner says that there are plans for the building, referring to an information leaflet about ‘Het blauwe domein’ (The blue domain). Work will start in 2008 to convert the old office building into large luxury apartments and office space, and on building large houses with work space on the surrounding land.

According to student accommodation office Idealis, there is not a real housing shortage problem for students in Wageningen. However, vice-director Jan Harkema admits that there was more demand for rooms from September to November than in previous years. This was due to an increase in the number of students in Wageningen. ‘There are long waiting lists for the whole of Wageningen, especially for first-time tenants. But we still expect that all students will be housed by the end of February.’

The squatters will remain in the tax office for now. Despite the cold.

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