The municipality of Wassenaar removed Ivicke’s gutter despite an Omgevingsdienst Zuid-Holland directive to stop all works on the building immediately due to the suspected presence of bats. The removal of the gutter also did not accord with the municipality’s own work plan, meaning Ivicke is now at serious risk of water damage.
On Tuesday 24 November, Omgevingsdienst (OD) Zuid-Holland ordered the municipality of Wassenaar to stop the works on Ivicke because of the strong possibility of bats roosting in and around the building. The municipality hasn’t conducted any assessment on this, or sought permits for the work in general, even though this is precisely why the owner, Ronnie van de Putte, was prevented from carrying out works on the building several months ago. The workers left the site early on Tuesday 24 and weren’t here on Wednesday 25, pending the results of the OD’s investigation.
(At this stage of the municipality’s works (4 weeks in), there’s scaffolding all around the building, more or less at the height of the now-removed gutter, but it’s not yet fully erect. Before the works stopped, the scaffolding was due to be completed by November 30, according to the plan submitted to us by the architect of the project.)
Representatives from the OD came on the morning of Wednesday 25 and their conclusions were clear. All works on Ivicke must stop immediately. What’s more, they said it was necessary to study the behaviour of the bats around Ivicke – perhaps for up to a year – so they can be safely relocated, if necessary, at which point works on the building could proceed. These findings were immediately communicated to the municipality, the architect and the site foreman.
On the morning of Thursday 26, however, from around 7.00 the foreman and a worker removed Ivicke’s guttering around three sides of the building. Ivicke’s walls are now exposed to the rain. Two and a half years after we intervened, made Ivicke watertight and dried it out, the municipality has sabotaged our efforts and flooded our current home.
The architect came a little later that morning and told us he thought the work was permitted because they weren’t causing vibrations. The municipality repeated this line to us by email. We later ran this claim by the OD representative and he said that doesn’t allow the removal of the gutter, and reiterated that the necessity to stop completely had already been communicated by Tuesday 24. It’s worth noting the municipality incorrectly informed the OD representative that the gutter had been removed on Tuesday 24, prior to his visit on Wednesday 25.
On Thursday 26, several hours after the gutter had been removed, we asked the architect why the foreman and worker removed the gutter now when that wasn’t scheduled to happen until after the scaffolding is fully erect (with appropriate overhead covering) in December. He had no explanation, because it makes no sense to do so without first protecting the structure from the rain. Later, when we contacted the municipality, they repeated the architect’s line and told us they were working on a solution to this ‘problem’ with the OD. They have scheduled a meeting together for Tuesday 31 November.
What’s happened though is crystal clear. The municipality has made a serious error in its plans for Ivicke’s renovation. It did not carry out due diligence, and now that this issue has been raised it’s facing a huge financial hit, not to mention a stunning embarrassment. In order to mitigate against this, the municipality is trying to manufacture greater urgency for Ivicke’s renovation by actively damaging and endangering the building to try and force the works to continue according to its flawed plan.
They’ve not only broken the law that protects the roosting areas of bats, astonishingly they’ve also arguably broken the law that protects national monuments. In doing so, they’re now holding Ivicke hostage to serve their own financial interests. Which reminds us of someone… Though this isn’t an entirely fair comparison. After all, with regards to Ivicke, Ronnie van de Putte is only guilty of breaking one law.
In short: The municipality of Wassenaar has stooped to thuggish gutter politics to try and avoid facing up to their fuck up.