UG threatens to find different location
Heritage clubs protest law faculty’s alterations to library
Most of the Faculty of Law is currently located at the Harmonie complex, which it shares with the Faculty of Arts. After the OB’s move to the new Forum, the law faculty felt its premises would make a great new location, but only if they could add an extra storey to the building to make room for all students and lecturers.
But cultural heritage association Heemschut Groningen and Stichting Vrienden van de Stad fiercely oppose the addition. The two heritage foundations have called upon the city council to refuse the alterations.
Waiting for approval
The alterations are scheduled to be finished by the summer of 2023, says Hanneke van den Berg with the law faculty board. For more information, she refers to VGI, the UG’s property management department, which in turn refers to the communications department.
What’s this about the plans to look for a different location? ‘The UG has submitted an application to alter the building and we’re awaiting the city’s decision. I can’t speculate as whether they’ll decide in our favour or not’, says spokesperson Gernant Deekens.
The municipal board writes to the city council that they want to approve the addition. It cites the increase of students due to the pandemic as a reason. More high school students graduated and fewer will be taking a gap year, which means there will be more first-year law students.
But Heemschut Groningen’s secretary Gijsbert Boekschoten says he’s not sure if the extra room is even needed. ‘Perhaps they’ll actually need less room in the future due to online education.’
In the letter, the mayor and councillors write that the building was originally going to have an extra storey. At the time, the extra storey was not built because it ‘didn’t fit the plans’. The city architect even consulted the now 85-year-old Italian architect Giorgio Grassi, who designed the building, about new addition plans.
While this is all well and good, the addition would increase the building’s height by 5 metres, which the zoning plan does not permit, say Heemschut Groningen and Vrienden van de Stad. The executive board is overstepping the mark by deviating from the plan in such a visible location without proper argumentation, says Boekschoten. ‘It’s not as though the building is in some back alley.’
‘They’re basically undermining the municipality’s spatial planning policies’, he says. ‘The council is in charge of that, not the UG or some architect. The first priority is a decision, so we can object to that if need be.’ If it comes to that, says Boekschoven, Heemschut will not hesitate to take the matter to court.