Law faculty stays in city centre
Renovations to old library approved
The zoning plan technically forbids ‘topping up’ the building, but the city council made an exception for the UG and approved it anyway, to ensure that the law faculty stays in the city centre.
Bond Heemschut Groningen and Vrienden van de Stad, two organisations that protect heritage sites, feel the city’s decision is wrong. The building will be too high. They say the council was sidelined.
The council discussed the matter for an hour last Wednesday, but the meeting focused more on the principle of whether the city council was allowed to make an exception than on whether the extra storey was a good idea.
Besides, said alderman Roeland van der Schaaf, the zoning plan does not in fact forbid it. ‘It isn’t allowed, unless there is good reason to do it anyway.’
And there is, since the law faculty historically belongs in the city centre, Van der Schaaf explained. The faculty said it would be looking for different accommodations if the extra story wasn’t approved.
‘Three of the four members in my faction studied at that faculty’, said VVD council member Geeske de Vries. ‘I’m happy it won’t leave the centre.’ Most other factions also wanted to prevent the faculty from leaving. They didn’t see the fact that the centuries old Calmershuis behind the library would be slightly obscured as an obstacle.
The law faculty currently shares the Harmonie building with the arts faculty, but has been expanding to other buildings in the city. It’s lacking its own, central property. When the public library moved to the Forum, the faculty saw its chance.
Not enough space
However, it quickly became clear that the ever-growing faculty wouldn’t fit inside the old library building. The UG therefore decided an expansion with an extra storey was in order, even though that still isn’t enough. The faculty will continue to use property elsewhere.
Earlier, Gijsbert Broekhoven with Bond Heemschut Groningen said that the heritage protectors will take the matter to court if the city approves the expansion. ‘But not until the definitive plans have been submitted.’