force prices up. Of late, however, many Swedish
investors and financiers have been preoccupied with
problems in their home market, which has dampe
ned their enthusiasm for Dutch real estate. The fact
that some of these investors are now trying to dis
pose of parts of their property portfolios is likely to
depress prices in the coming period.
Market conditions have also been made more
difficult by the current high level of interest rates.
The significant rise in political tension in the second
half of 1990, coupled with general economic uncer
tainty, increased the upward pressure on rates.
Although interest rates have fallen slightly in the first
months of 1991, they are still at historically high
levels in real terms, which is tending to rein in
Current government planning policy is also
adding to the level of uncertainty in the commercial
property market in the Netherlands. The recent
publication of an addendum to the Fourth Policy
Document on Physical Planning (VINEX), in which
the government has set out guidelines for allocating
locations for industrial and office property in the
Netherlands, has come in for considerable criticism.
i Although the government’s attempt to define
such policies is to be welcomed, it is unlikely that
these initiatives will lead to the creation of prime
business locations comparable to those found in
London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York and Tokyo.
A prerequisite for such locations is a stock of at least
one million square meters, which explains why
these centers are able to attract top international
companies that are prepared to pay up to ten times
the rents normally charged in the Netherlands. In
contrast, the top locations in the Netherlands are
much smaller than their international counterparts,
typically with no more than a few hundred
thousand square meters of business space. A further
disadvantage of some of these locations is that they
are remote from the major commercial centers.
One of the central themes of the
government’s new policy initiative, published in
November 1990, is the desire to promote greater
use of public transportation systems for travel to and
from work and at the same time to limit the use of
automobiles. In addition, the three major cities -
Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague - have
been accorded a special status in an attempt to
improve their appeal to international companies.
The absence of Utrecht from this fist is seen by
many as a serious omission, in view of its position
in the center of the country.
I The government’s plan envisages that compa
nies which have substantial numbers of employees
and frequent visitors, but that do not require direct
access to the national highway network, should
have their premises situated close to public
transportation terminals and not along expressways.
All such locations are to be designated as Category
A sites and are to be distinguished from Category B
locations, which offer a reduced choice of mass
transit provisions. Category B locations are to be
earmarked for firms with correspondingly fewer
employees that are likely to make slightly less use of
public transportation systems. In contrast, sites
directly accessible from expressways (Category C
locations) are to be reserved for much smaller
companies that are heavily dependent on auto
mobiles and commercial vehicles for business trans
portation. The government’s policy on business
locations aims on the one hand, to promote greater
use of urban mass transit systems, whereas on the
other hand, restricting automobile use by limiting
Whilst the Executive Board of FGH BANK
welcomes the government’s efforts to enhance the
international appeal of Dutch business locations by
focusing more attention on the major commercial
centers, the Board is unhappy with the policy docu
ment in its present form.
It feels that the current policy document is too
REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD