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Waterland wants a “sustainable future” for its thirteen increasingly empty church buildings

Take note of B&W’s decision to adopt the Church’s Vision Action Plan for the Municipality of Waterland.

an introduction

More and more church buildings are becoming vacant and there are fewer and fewer volunteers committed to maintaining and running the church building. There is also less and less money for the maintenance of buildings, towers and interiors. Moreover, the buildings less meet current requirements for sustainability, comfort and use.

From the municipality and from church owners and other stakeholders, there is a need to learn about the current use of church buildings and the (spatial) possibilities of each church building in the future. This insight can be gained by charting the church’s vision. The primary goal of the church’s vision is to promote a sustainable future for (mega) church buildings or places of worship. but also to make an inventory of the problems of church buildings, to form a network of interested parties, to conclude agreements on the role of those parties and to provide a sustainable perspective for future conditions.

The Action Plan discusses how the Church’s vision will be developed, the important parties and factors in this regard and what the global planning will be. The council is expected to adopt the church’s vision in the first quarter of 2024.


Below are briefly the considerations for our decision.

  1. Churches are visited less and less, and (spatial) possibilities need to be clarified. In the past, various requests have been received about possibilities for (partial) changes in the function of churches. There is also a need for the municipality to gain insight into the spatial possibilities of, for example, (social) residential facilities or (starter) homes and ask whether church buildings could constitute a solution here. By adopting a business plan, it is possible to start drawing the vision of the church, in which the needs, desires and possibilities of all church buildings within the municipality of Waterland are articulated. Whether for use or, for example, for sustainability or regeneration.
  2. Work is underway on a sustainable relationship between the municipality and the church owners, as drawing a vision for the church not only promotes a sustainable future for the (huge) church buildings, but also forms a network with interested parties. In this way, a sustainable relationship is worked out between the municipality, church owners, heritage associations and other stakeholders. If the church building is not yet ready for changes, but does change at any time, interested parties can find worshipers more quickly.
  3. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) encourages articulation of the church’s vision. Municipalities can apply for a subsidy that can be used to develop a vision for the church, to hire an outside agency or to supply to church owners to use, for example, to make a building more sustainable or to restore it. The Municipality of Waterland received a letter on June 15, 2021 that a support amount of €25,000 will be awarded.
  4. Church vision preparation is included in the college program. The college program for 2022-2026 includes planning for the preparation of the church’s vision in the first quarter of 2024 that is related to the preservation and promotion of (religious) heritage. The attached Action Plan for the Church’s vision for the Municipality of Waterland is the first step towards achieving this goal. Planning includes that the preparations for the vision, its formulation and its formulation take place in 2023, so that the plan is ready in the first quarter of 2024.
  5. Your City Council has asked several times to put in place a vision for the church, as is your desire to gain insight into the sustainable future of (huge) church buildings within our municipality.

financial notes

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science granted a subsidy of €25,000 to paint the vision of the church. According to the COUP citation (see Appendix 2), the projected costs for the vision drawing of the church are estimated at €38,895. Taking into account unforeseen circumstances, the total amount comes to 42,785 euros. Additional costs over and above the support amount can be financed from the budget.

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