Placerdam – What to do with the Pilot Whale along Kortjen in Placerdam? This question will soon be faced by politicians in Placerdam, among others. As far as Bass and Nancy Ort are concerned, there will be about twenty houseboats with forty parking spaces in their part of the area. As far as the Werkgroep Buitendijkse Griend and De Groene Long Foundation are concerned, it remains “nature” and only the area is renovated. The first special information evening for locals was recently held, during which ideas were presented. Nancy and Bas Ort confirm that it is now just an idea on paper. “Imagination, idea, spatial exploration.”
The idea revolves around the plot of land and water between Rivierstaete, Cortgene and Kade, directly adjacent to the River Noord. It is often referred to as Kielgat in colloquial language. One part of the land belonged to the Ort family. This part belongs to the villa ‘t Zandeken in Cortgene, where the Bas Ort law firm is located. The other part of Kilgate largely belongs to the municipality of Placerdam. Reed bunting has been partially eaten by the river in recent decades. This was one of the reasons why a year and a half ago the Buitendijkse Griend set up the Working Group and took action against further deterioration.
Meanwhile, there are new plans and ideas for the district. “Our thoughts actually evolved hibernating,” says Bas Ort. Years ago in Vancouver, Canada, we saw a number of houseboats. And then we already said: “That would also be nice with us on the pilot whale.” Nothing was done with that for years and years, until we saw something about houseboats in Almere and Rotterdam. We’ve been working on this idea for a while now. We have appointed a project developer and urban architect, Balance d’eau and KuiperCompagnons, who have extensive experience with such off-dam and floating projects. The De Lentse Kust project near Nijmegen is a very successful example of this. Makani was explored by the project developer and architect. About three weeks ago we presented the plan to the municipality of Placerdame and immediately afterwards we organized an evening for local residents, the working group, De Groene Long, the Historical Association and other stakeholders. Despite the critical noise, it was a very successful evening.”
Orts themselves are still very excited about the idea and about its initial development by the project developer. “You can really turn this into a beautiful iconic project within Alblasserdam municipality and within Drechsteden. Our plan will give the area a quality boost,” Bass and Nancy say.
The Buitendijkse Griend working group sees it differently and does not want to build any houses and suggests that it is putting its heels in the sand. Renz Gort, who lives across from the pilot whale, is the spokesperson for the working group. He says, “During the informational evening it turned out that 95% of the attendees strongly opposed the plans. We think it is arrogant to upset the natural balance as human beings, and then introduce a new nature. Plus, I always get the itch when people want to give up nature for their own gain to build something.” This area is a unique piece of nature in Placerdam and should not be disturbed.”
Withdraw the pension
Moreover, it upsets Riens Gort from the working group because little maintenance has been done in recent years. “First, you do nothing about it for 32 years, and then you want to take your pension now, at the expense of nature. The area has beavers and kingfishers. Also found in the area are spoonbills and other casual visitors and passers-by. Where are they supposed to go?”
The married couple Oort sees it differently. “We did a nature study that was done by a well-known agency,” says Bass. “It’s actually a bland piece. It’s great with this reed, but in terms of natural value, almost nothing relevant emerges from this research. In addition, Crezéepolder, Molengebied (Natura 2000), both tens of hectares in size, are already in a small radius around it, Lammetjeswiel and the Park Huis in Kinderdijk are also nearby.The one hectare reed threshing area is basically muddy. Birds breed there, because there’s a tide. Fish don’t swim there, because they’re dredging. If you really want to improve the quality of this area, you need money. A cost company. In this case, that’s the houses. And then you can actually think: This is also strange, so you start building houses to enhance the natural value. Then you can leave it as it is. Then you forget one thing: we are the owners of the land and we also want to make some returns with it. This is not a public park. It is our “front yard” and our property. However, we’ve expressly tried to weave together all the elements present, including nature and the drive for quality, into this exploration.”
Bass continues: “For decades no one in Placerdam worried about that part of the outer weir or its maintenance. You can’t get to or from our side at all. There was a creamer once who asked if he could come and harvest the cane. That was fine.” He was allowed to come and harvest and take reeds free of charge, but even he could not come to and in this region.”
The residences are guests
Nancy Ort adds: “The goal of this project is for the homes to be guests in the natural environment of bunting. By creating new islands and deepening them locally, greater biodiversity is created, so that waterfowl can roost and breed here. Underwater life is enhanced with new underwater landscapes, so that species diversity increases. The houses in the reed bunting are designed in a natural way, so that various species of birds and bats can find places to rest and breed there. The homes are also deliberately designed with their underwater floors, sloping green roofs and natural materials in such a way as to minimize impact on the area and the view above. They move with the tides.”
Working group spokesman Renz Gort thinks this is too simplistic. “It sounds like a high school thesis. You remove all the nature and then hang up some cupboards and put some fish under it. But what house can a beaver go to? These are dollar signs at the expense of nature. Gort sees more in renovating the existing area, like installing new covers.” This can be done in less than a ton. Then you have the material, including the mounting of the panels, that’s how we calculated it. Surely that amount could have been deducted in recent years? We ourselves have started crowdfunding with the working group for the shingles and poles, which we will install on the municipal side.”
Not for maximum profit
The Ort family acknowledges that the idea is that money is actually made from it. “Is this not permitted in your land?” Bass says. “We’re not a charity, but we certainly don’t aim for maximum profit. We deliberately chose not to. Then we came up with a plan with a five-story floating apartment building or we would have sold it right away for good money to a Saab project developer. We also want it to remain an area Beautiful, accommodating to people and nature.In addition, we want to make the area accessible to the Placerdamers, with a public pedestrian walkway with references to the historical past of this and the surrounding area.With this plan we have tried to unify the different elements of this area.And yes, yield is also part of it “.
To make the area safe in relation to the busy De Noord River, collision protection had to be installed, among other things, so that ships could not just enter the house. The idea is to use a dredge for this, which is released when dredging the reed bunting. This will create islands on the river side made of the dredged material. They can also act as a natural island. There will also be natural floating islands between the houses. The technology for making islands from dredged materials was developed by an engineering company from Alblasserdam (Netics). Furthermore, the houses must have a pitched roof (a natural roof) and the plan is to generate power for the houses via a heat exchanger underneath with heat from the river.
The Ort couple doesn’t yet have a target date for when the homes should be there. We are not in a hurry and we also depend on what politicians think about it later. This spatial exploration is a good start. We’ve already thought a lot about it and we know that if you go into such a process it can sometimes take years. Normally, you would start with an application to change a zoning plan, but we have deliberately chosen to enter into discussion with all stakeholders. We also certainly realize that there are still many steps to be taken and that all kinds of bears may come along the way. We are in no hurry. It’s a nice plan for us and we’re excited about it, but if it doesn’t go forward, it’s also a good one. Then the area will remain as it is now.
“Although we received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement during and especially after the presentation, we realize there are also people who have other ideas about our pilot whale,” says Bass. “We see it this way: This is our plan for our land. You can be against that and we respect that. It might also be: someone else’s plan on someone else’s land. But first you’ll have to get ownership of that land. What we won’t do is carry out someone else’s plan another on our land. After all, we do not do this with someone else’s land.
As far as the inventors of this exploration are concerned, it is ultimately up to the politicians to find something of this. Plans and all feedback will be submitted through the environment counter next year. Bas Oort: “After that, it’s up to the politicians to decide whether they want this popular neighborhood, with beautiful homes that are CO2-neutral and quality-enhancing, here or whether the natural value remains the same as it is now. We all know there is a huge shortage of homes in The Netherlands and also in Placerdam.With such a green and convenient neighborhood, you can create a lot of space and movement in the housing market.After all, the buyers of these floating homes leave their homes behind.In the end, the municipality will have to think about this and make a decision.In addition “We must, of course, talk to the Rijkswaterstaat and the water board. Finally, we are also curious about what the municipality wants to do with its part of the land.”
The De Groene Long Foundation in Alblasserdam, which deals with nature in the village, says it is “not enthusiastic” about the plans. We do not support this idea, explains Neil de Vries, head of the foundation. It looks nice in the presentation, but the picture is not realistic. For example, few cars are registered, while 40 parking spaces should be created. I think this is some mistake the thing.”
De Vries also believes that the area should have been preserved in recent years. “In our opinion, it is a ‘Natural Site 1’ and there is a commitment to conservation. Now it pretends to be a worthless swamp, but it is not. There are animals indeed. We see this area as an ecological link between Crezéepolder on the other side of the river and Groene Long in Alblasserdam and the Natura2000 area near Kinderdijk. We are curious how the municipality, which has chosen ‘fit and green’, thinks about this. In any case, we do not think it is a good plan, because nature as it is now will never return. Our descendants will have this legacy and I find that Very sad,” says de Vries.
More information about the project can be found at www.drivingwonenalblasserdam.nl.
earlier in the news
In March 2021, Alblasserdamsnieuws.nl published a comprehensive article about the Working Group, Kielgat/Pilot Whale and the history of this area. This article can be found here.