Police facility Land Forum
The municipality and the police want to realize a police facility at the border of Grasrijk. In 2019, this involved 1,250 police officers and the facility could be fitted into the existing infrastructure (see also the Wijkinfo of December 2019). In the meantime, the size of the planned facility has increased significantly. According to the latest findings, this will involve around 2,000 police staff from various departments, including the Mobile Unit, and 520 students from the Police Academy on a daily basis. Also a detention centre (for short stays), a shooting range and a training center are planned. Space is needed for around 1,000 parking lots for staff and visitors. There is also the possibility of a ‘height accent’ with a maximum height of 45 metres (comparable with a building of approx. 15 floors) on thesouth side of the site. The police facility has no public function. So there will be no police station for filing reports and the like.
In June 2021, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) agreed with this plan. Residents in part of Grasrijk and Bosrijk received a ‘Wijkinfo‘ from the municipality that month. The municipal council has been informed by means of a Council information letter.
(Read further below).
To make all these developments possible, the municipality and the police want to relocate the Oude Sliffertsestraat to the outer side of the territory. Two variants have been devised for this: a western and an eastern variant. In order collect the opinion of the neighbourhood, the municipality called in a research agency. At the end of October and the beginning of November 2021, the agency held 134 conversations with shoppers, road users and local residents.The result have been published in a report. According to the BMA, these conversations have not resulted in a clear conclusion about a preference. Therefore, it was decided in December 2021 that the Oude Sliffertsestraat will be moved to the residential area (the western variant). According to the BMA, this variant is cheaper, shorter and more environmentally friendly. Moreover, in that case, the police will have more space. Local residents have been informed about the decision via a Wijkinfo. The road can only be moved once the zoning plan is irrevocable.
Quality of life
A salient detail is that both alternatives were already presented to the neighbourhood in May 2021. However, this did not give the desired result for the municipality and the police. Over 98% of the more than 500 respondents supported the advice given by the sounding group of residents and the Board of Residents’ Association Meerhoven. They advised – indepedent from both alternatives – to first thoroughly investigate the effects on the quality of life by the arrival of the intended police facility and to seriously include the input of the neighbourhood in the investigation. Interviews recently conducted by the research agency also revealed that residents are particularly concerned about the arrival of the facility and would have liked to have been more involved in the plans. Nevertheless, in June 2021 the BMA decided that the police facility would be built without further investigation or consultation with the neighbourhood. According to the BMA, the police threatened to choose another city if the decision was further delayed.
With the most recent decision of the BMA to move the Oude Sliffertsestraat towards the neighbourhood, the earlier advice of the sounding group and the Board of Residents’ Assocation Meerhoven is again fully ignored. See the excerpt from the advice below.
|“Should you nevertheless decide on the location of the Oude Sliffertsestraat without further investigation, we note that moving the road to the west side of the intended police facility (close to the residential area) is not in line with the car-restricted design of the neighbourhood. This option is also inconsistent with the traffic decision you took on July 11, 2006 in relation to the ‘Knip Sliffertsestraat’ file. As a plaster on the wounds for keeping a car connection open between Zandrijk and Grasrijk various traffic measures were taken to spare the east flank of Grasrijk as much as possible from the negative consequences of a car connection. This connection was not forseen in the original plan for Meerhoven. By relocating the Oude Sliffertsestraat in the direction of the residential area, local residents will still be confronted with these negative effects without additional measures. This is why we are again insisting that the implications of the western variant and the alternatives be investigated thoroughly and with the necessary care before a decision is taken.” (Translated from source: Advies klankbordgroep politiedienstencentrum Land Forum Meerhoven, April 25, 2021)|
As known, both the sounding group and the Board of Residents’ Association Meerhoven are in principle positive about the realization of a police facility as outlined in the Wijkinfo of December 2019. Since then, however, the police have been making increasing demands, including a doubling of the number of police staff and students, closing the site (in combination with an extra exit on the north side) and relocating the Oude Sliffertsestraat. The police also deviate from the original plan area and the municipality apparently allows this. The great willingness of the municipality to comply with all the demands of the police is in stark contrast to the way in which the municipality has so far dealt with the input of residents. As the Board of the Residents’ Association Meerhoven, we find it unacceptable that the BMA takes hasty decisions for economic reasons, without thoroughly investigating the consequences for the liveability in the neighbourhood.
Since the BMA has so far ignored the advice of the sounding group and the Board of Residents’ Assocation Meerhoven, at the end of November 2021 we called on the City Council by letter to urge the BMA to involve the neighbourhood in the plans and to revoke the BMA’s decision. This with the aim to find a satisfying solution for all parties. Both the sounding group and the Board Residents’ Assocation Meerhoven are still open to this. In our view, this is a more attractive route than a lengthy legal process that seems to become inevitable due to the current course. In a written response, the BMA has stated that it has conducted a careful consultation process and regrets that it cannot convince us of this. At the beginning March 2022, the police facility was once again on the agenda of the City Council. A majority of the council supported the position of the BMA that the participation process had gone well and that the facility should be built no matter what. This is not a surprising result, since the coalition parties usually give the BMA their unconditional support. The result is also in line with earlier reports in the Eindhovens Dagblad about the functioning of the council. As the board of Residents’ Asssocation Meerhoven, we nevertheless felt that we had to make the most of every opportunity to arrive at a supported solution for the neighbourhood. We regret that this has not been possible so far and that legal proceedings seem to be inevitable.
As an alternative location for the police facility, residents have repeatedly pointed to the vacant terrain behind P+R Meerhoven and Hotel Campanille. Earlier, the municipality indicated that the terrain is not available for the police, but is intended as a “shop window for Brainport near the A2”, whereby “top international companies with a supra-regional function” should be considered. The recent plan of the municipality to realise a few hundred houses on this terrain for a period of 30 years proves that the ambitions are perhaps too high. This was reason enough for us as a board to write this letter to the municipality to draw its attention once again to the idea of making the site available to the police. We also suggested that the temporary housing could be realised on Land Forum in close consultation with the neighbourhood. On March 18, 2022, the municipality informed us by letter that it did not want to go through the preparatory process for the police facility again and therefore will stick to the Land Forum location.
Draft zoning plan
The realisation of the police facility and the relocation of Oude Sliffertsestraat require an amendment to the zoning plan. The procedure started with the publication of the draft zoning plan. Anyone could submit a view on the plan in the period 30 June – 10 August 2022.
View Residents’ Association Meerhoven
During the General Meeting of June 20, 2022, it was decided that the Board of Residents’ Association Meerhoven would draw up a view on the draft zoning plan Land Forum (police site) in accordance with the position as expressed above. On August 3, 2022, the view has been sent to the Municipality of Eindhoven on behalf of the association. The view was also sent on behalf of 177 local residents who authorized the Board to do so. The latter is important because parts of the zoning plan can only be disputed by local residents in a possible appeal procedure.
The view includes the following appendices:
- Letter Residents’ Association Meerhoven to City Council regarding “Update irregularities in the participation process regional police service center Land Forum” dated November 22, 2021
- Letter Residents’ Association Meerhoven to BMA regarding “Police housing Land Forum Meerhoven” with annex “Advice sounding group police housing Land Forum” dated April 25, 2021
- District Info Municipality of Eindhoven regarding “State of affairs police site Land Forum” dated July 9, 2020
- Website www.eindhoven.nl/politielocatielandforum dated July 29, 2022
- Letter of the BMA dated December 21, 2021 in response to a letter from Residents’ Association Meerhoven “Update irregularities in the participation process regional police service center Land Forum” dated November 22, 2021
- Business Case Collection Location Eindhoven phase 1: plot selection dated November 19, 2019
- Appendix 8 “Collection Location Eindhoven – Integration Study” dated October 17, 2019 belonging to the Business Case Collection Location Eindhoven phase 1: plot selection dated November 19, 2019
- District Info Municipality of Eindhoven regarding “Possible housing for the police Land Forum” dated December 12, 2019
- Request for quotation traffic research for the new Central Police Housing dated March 16, 2020
- Letter Residents’ Association Meerhoven regarding “Trade Forum as an alternative location for police housing” dated February 15, 2022
- Letter of the BMA dated March 18, 2022 in response to a letter from Residents’ Association Meerhoven regarding “Trade Forum as an alternative location for police housing” dated February 15, 2022
- Appendix 7 “Project: Collection Location Eindhoven – Assessment Criteria” belonging to the Business Case Collection Location Eindhoven phase 1: plot selection dated November 19, 2019
Response to views
After a long period of radio silence, the municipality responded to the above view on April 24, 2023. See the Memorandum of views and amendments. This memorandum also contains responses to the other 32 views submitted by (groups of) residents. Based on the views the zoning plan has been adjusted on a number of points. The adjustments are listed in the above-mentioned memorandum. In general, little has changed. On May 16, 2023, organizations and residents could explain their submitted views in person to council and committee members. Residents’ Association Meerhoven then provided an explanation also on behalf of the 177 local residents.
The City Council approved the zoning plan Land Forum (police site) on May 30, 2023. The vote distribution was 26 votes in favour and 16 against. The zoning plan has been available for inspection since Thursday, June 8, 2023 and can be consulted via the site ruimtelijkeplannen.nl. The zoning plan can be appealed to the Council of State until Thursday, July 20, 2023.
Residents’ Association Meerhoven is of the opinion that the location Land Forum is not suitable for a police facility of this size and that the alternative location Trade Forum (the vacant lot behind P+R Meerhoven) is an excellent alternative. With the choice of Trade Forum, the inconvenience to the surrounding area can be reduced, Sliffertsestraat can remain where it is now, and the P+R site can serve as an “overflow” when there are insufficient parking spaces on the police site itself. Residents’ Association Meerhoven and local residents have lodged an appeal with the Council of State.