Paul de Wit (municipality of Nijmegen) – strategic area developer of De Stelt-Zuid. Photo: RN7
LENT – In historic Lent, just above Nijmegen, a new neighborhood has emerged: the Stelt-Zuid. When building it, the municipality of Nijmegen first looked at the landscape before designing the houses. This is so special that this district has now been nominated for the Gelderse Award for Spatial Quality.
Paul de Wit is a strategic area developer in the Waalsprong and has been involved in the project since the start of construction.” This district is so special because it forms a connection between the city of Nijmegen, the village of Lent and the river landscape. When building, we paid attention to nature, the community and the landscape. That means that we first developed the landscape, after which we filled the empty spaces with housing.”
The Stelt-Zuid is part of the Waalsprong. North of the Waal, 12,000 homes will ultimately be added. The starting point for this district was to create a residential environment, in which Stelt-Zuid serves as a connecting factor and connection between the two worlds.
The type of houses is also included in this connection. “There are dyke houses and they are robust and made of stone; that match the urban character,” explains De Wit. “There are also so-called barn houses. There we used more natural materials, such as wood and steel. With this we make a link to the past: there used to be many greenhouses and sheds here. The design resembles a barn, but it is a house.”
De Wit is very proud of the fact that they have been nominated. “Not only for ourselves, but also for the residents. They are very positive about how they live here and how they maintain the greenery together.” In the middle of the neighborhood there is an orchard, which was created in consultation with the residents.
‘The neighborhood deserves an orchard’
“Normally, fairly traditional greenery is laid out by the municipality, but we said: this neighborhood deserves an orchard with fruit trees,” says De Wit. “Normally you don’t do this as a municipality, because that requires a lot of maintenance and fruit trees can also do a lot cause nuisance. We then said: we will only do it if there is also a willingness among the residents to carry out maintenance themselves. We put a lot of time into it, but there was great willingness and eventually the majority of the residents want to maintain the orchard together. How special is that?”
Construction is well advanced, but not yet finished. A total of about 280 homes have been built in this area, 30 percent of which are social housing. “Many more trees will be added”, says De Wit enthusiastically. “A school, childcare and a gym have also been built, which are called ‘The Connection’. That is exactly what we aimed for here: social cohesion and meeting; and that is all possible there.”
On Friday 25 November, the municipality of Nijmegen may pitch this plan to the province of Gelderland. They are not the only ones nominated for the Gelderse Award for Spatial Quality. “There are 14 other projects, but this is simply the best plan, so I think we are just going to win,” says De Wit proudly. The winner will be announced in mid-December.