Only half as many state-owned flats as planned were completed in Berlin in 2017. As Senator Katrin Lompscher for Urban Development (a member of The Left) told the city’s Senate shortly before Christmas, only 3,000 flats were finished instead of the 6,000 flats that had been announced.1 It is the stated goal of Berlin’s governing coalition of Social Democrats, the Left, and the Greens to have the city’s six municipal housing associations build at least 30,000 new flats by the end of the legislative term in 2021. In the eyes of experts, this target is now in serious jeopardy.
Berliner Morgenpost, one of the city’s dailies, quoted recent data by the BBU Association of Housing Entrepreneurs in Berlin and Brandenburg when reporting that quite obviously no more than 27,150 flats are likely to be completed by 2021. This means that the supply gap of 30,000 flats could actually keep widening.
Urban Development Senator under Fire
Back in September 2017, the municipal housing companies had already sent a philippic to Katrin Lompscher, the Senator for Urban Development.2 In their letter, the housing companies demanded more support from Lompscher, and pointed out that without the zoning of additional building land and an accelerated approval process for development rights it would be impossible to achieve the targets. Lompscher has also been criticised by the Social Democrats, according to the Morgenpost. Berlin’s Social Democrats and the Lord Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, accuse the senator of “neglecting the housing construction issue,” and that she will therefore have to report back regularly to the Senate about the latest state of affairs in housing development.
The reasons Lompscher quoted for the far too sluggish pace of housing construction, according to the Morgenpost, are “delays in the tender procedures and in land procurement as well as legal amendments in biodiversity conservation.” Lompscher went on to point the finger at the borough where staff shortages had led to extended processing times. The Senator therefore intends to sign collaboration agreements with the city’s boroughs.
Boroughs to be Enticed with Premiums
As the Berliner Morgenpost reported, the boroughs are supposed to promise in these collaboration agreements to speed up residential development at certain sites.3 The boroughs’ consent is to be rewarded in the form of premiums: an initial payment of 100,000 euros for each borough, followed by additional amounts after clearing certain milestones, such as the finalisation of local development plans and granted planning consents.
However, the boroughs have criticised Lompscher’s plans. Hans-Joachim Fenske, a Christian Democrat representative from the borough Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, told the Morgenpost: “The entire responsibility is being shifted to the borough councils but without giving them the proper tools to do the job – meaning more staff above all.”