ECHO plays a leading role within the coalition, both substantively with design research and partial studies and process-wise. Koen de Boo, partner at ECHO, chairs the coalition and is its representative to residents and other stakeholders. He has fulfilled this role since 2020.
Coalition De Esch is a collaboration between the housing landlords, the shopping centre owner and developers. Together, we own 85% of all homes on De Esch. We work together so that we can influence the future of De Esch. We participate in various spatial processes of the municipality, putting our ideas on the table. We engage with the municipality so that we can turn these ideas into real projects.
Being part of the coalition means that we have jointly formulated our ambitions. Essentials in the areas of green, mobility, housing, facilities, and energy give the process a solid foundation. These ambitions are regularly discussed with residents during the recurring participation evenings. However, formulating a well-rooted and widely supported vision requires a deeper insight into the goings-on in the neighbourhood and the residents’ needs. That is also why we initially sought – and found – a connection with the core values process organised by the residents themselves. We discussed with them crucial questions such as: What does De Esch stand for? Which qualities are worth preserving and strengthening? Which qualities should be added?
It is an inspiring process in which the residents and the coalition truly connect with each other. We shall continue working together and explore practical ways to translate the neighbourhood core values into reality: integrating the proposed shore connection, as well as measures to enhance the liveability and diversity of De Esch in the short term.
Would you like to know more about what’s happening in The Esch? Join future discussions? Visit www.echtdeesch.nl to stay informed!
Core values The Esch
In the midst of a Corona pandemic, residents of De Esch teamed up with various authorities and market players to search for the core values of De Esch. What really is De Esch?
People in De Esch are proud of the unique qualities the neighbourhood possesses. De Esch is beautifully located along the river Maas, there is plenty of peace and quiet and there are all kinds of special places in the neighbourhood (such as the oldest city park and the nature polder). But there are also challenges. The public space is cluttered and crowded, there is a lot of ageing due to a one-sided housing supply and, partly as a result, the number of facilities in the neighbourhood is decreasing.
On the initiative of the Neighbourhood Collective, a value process was launched with the cooperating property owners and the municipality (Area Committee). This process consisted of a photo competition and the Open Ateliers Echt De Esch: six sessions in which we searched for the neighbourhood’s core values with various parties. Five core values followed from the Open Ateliers, describing which elements are of value to preserve, which elements should be strengthened and what is missing in De Esch.
The qualities of De Esch are space and tranquillity. Close to nature and close to the city.
The mix of households could be better: more diversity is desired, especially for families. The basis for local facilities will become stronger by adding new homes. Not in the density of the centre, but balanced with nature, peace and quiet and space, because that’s why people like living in De Esch.
The (natural) green-blue infrastructure is a great asset.
The Eschpolder nature reserve is the pride of the district. Future developments should spare this place and enhance it. A green corridor (between Eschpolder and Kralingse Bos), the Maas banks, the Park Oude Plantage and the allotments are also of great value. Uninterrupted connections with natural green management between these areas strengthen the character of the neighbourhood and provide added value for biodiversity, climate adaptation, heat stress and resident involvement.
3. The Esch is a destination and not a transit area.
The quality of De Esch is its good accessibility to the city centre, surrounding neighbourhoods and the region. A riverbank connection at De Esch should not be a solution for through car traffic and should not divide the neighbourhood. Within the district, sustainable means of transport have priority. The dominant position of the car in public spaces is out of date and must be changed.
4. There is a need for resident initiative and cohesion.
The Esch has some great facilities such as the House of the Neighbourhood in the Pompgebouw, the public primary school, the health centre, park De Oude Plantage, Hall 4 and numerous sports fields. Activities and programmes by and for residents provide the real connection between people, but require more local involvement. City policies (welfare, sports and recreation, real estate, funding) and a contemporary shopping centre should support this ‘community building’.
5. We do it together!
The Open Ateliers Echt De Esch showed how much the structural conversation with the municipality and institutional parties about the neighbourhood and an integral approach are missed. About both future developments (bank connection, housing compaction, sustainability and a green corridor) and current issues (parking policy, vacancy, pruning and mowing policy, cleaning and waste policy). Doing things together, meeting each other and knowing each other’s cultures creates more involvement, better plans and a better social living situation.
Work session residents
WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT?
Koen will be happy to tell you about it.