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How we keep Zuidas accessible, liveable and safe

‘These agreements form a framework for anyone starting a construction project or carrying out public works. That means it also applies to the City of Amsterdam itself’, explains Maarten van Ettekoven. He is the Zuidas community engagement manager on behalf of the City of Amsterdam. The framework is referred to as the BLVC framework (a Dutch acronym), because there are rules for accessibility (B), liveability (L) and safety (V) in the area during building work. It also outlines how contractors or commissioning parties should communicate (C) with residents and other users in and around Zuidas. ‘Based on this framework, each contractor draws up a specific plan to match its specific project. It’s up to us to assess whether the plan is in line with the framework.’

Construction traffic

So, what does this mean in concrete terms? Van Ettekoven: ‘One key rule is that construction traffic must avoid the rush hour. This not only prevents even more traffic at peak periods, but also ensures there are no large trucks on the roads when children are cycling to school. In other situations, we make it clear that certain streets cannot be closed off because they are important routes for cyclists. In such cases, contractors have to organise their building site or the routes in and out in a different way.’ Another example is the way in which foundations are put in place. In Zuidas, contractors have to screw or drill foundation piles into the ground – or apply some other low-noise method. Pile-driving is not permitted. This helps us to limit any noise nuisance. ‘The technique we insist on may be more expensive than pile-driving, but we feel this is important for the neighbourhood. The framework also outlines how contractors should inform the local neighbourhood of important developments that may cause noise nuisance or traffic disruption for people. The main aim of the BLVC framework is to ensure that Zuidas continues to be a nice and pleasant place to live and work in, even though building work is going on in an awful lot of places.’

Coordinating works

Precisely because so much is happening simultaneously in Zuidas, it’s important not only to consider separate construction projects, but how they all interrelate. ‘In order to keep it liveable, we have to prevent contractors all doing their own thing. This is why we carefully monitor to ensure everything is properly coordinated. Road closures and diversions are regularly requested for construction projects and other works. This has an effect on accessibility. For example, the last thing you want is for key routes, such as Beethovenstraat and De Boelelaan, to be closed at the same time because of works. We prevent this by consulting with all of the projects that are underway, in an attempt to coordinate the work.’

Schools and football

The preparatory work for the new Ravel residential district is one example of this. ‘In advance, we carefully consider the sequence of all the works scheduled to take place in the year ahead. Goed Genoeg sports park, where AFC play their matches, is just opposite the site. We aim to limit any disruption to AFC as far as we can. Of course, the area also needs to remain accessible. Kindercampus Zuidas childcare centre is also nearby, which means we have to be particularly vigilant about traffic safety. We try to consider all of this as carefully as possible when drawing up the plans. Of course, the same also applies while the work is being done.’

Protecting green areas

Zuidas recently revised the framework in which contractors have to work. ‘This has already happened several times in the past, because circumstances change, and so do our priorities. For example, we have tightened up the rules about banners on construction projects. We are setting stricter conditions for this because the area is getting busier and we don’t want banners on sites to distract drivers or contractors to use the frontage of their construction project as an advertising hoarding. One key change in the most recent update concerns protecting green areas on and around construction sites. We felt that we had not set sufficient rules for this. Although green areas were always an issue in the execution of projects, not all contractors were being equally careful about them. This is why we have now included new regulations about this.’

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