Construction Minister Geywitz: Cities should become denser

More apartments at affordable prices, that’s what Construction Minister Geywitz is talking about. Now he brings new players to the table. Different interests are already evident.

Construction cranes glow gold in front of a residential area in the light of the rising sun in Berlin. (Image: dpa)
(Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa)

Berlin – Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz has a clear mandate: 400,000 new apartments will be built in Germany every year. But SPD politics knows they can’t do it alone.

The money is there, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has released € 14.5 billion for social housing alone. But to build these billions, Geywitz needs allies. That is why he brings federal states, municipal umbrella organizations, the construction industry and stakeholders from the German nature conservation ring to the owners’ association Haus und Grund to one table on Wednesday.

“It’s about breaking through a thick board: we have a great need for apartments in Germany, especially affordable housing,” Geywitz said ahead of the German news agency meeting. Not only municipalities, states and the federal government should work together here. “We also need the support of the construction industry, which needs to expand its capabilities significantly but is under pressure from rising construction costs and material shortages.”

Common goal

In the “Housing Alliance” the various actors should commit themselves to the common goal, but also develop drafts of public subsidies. What conditions for climate protection must new construction and redevelopments meet in order to receive government funding? And how do you make sure that all approved apartments are actually built in a timely manner? According to Geywitz, nearly 800,000 apartments have been approved but not yet built. Sometimes obstacles in planning made it difficult to condense into the stock, the minister said. For example, the question of whether we still have to provide as many parking spaces in the city as before. “I think no one.”

In the draft of the final declaration, available to the German news agency, it is emphasized that new apartments should be created mainly in metropolitan areas, but not necessarily through new buildings or new building areas. Instead, vacant lots need to be filled, homes expanded, and commercial buildings converted to apartments. Overall, German cities will become denser.

Obstacles caused by the war in Ukraine

The building and construction associations want to agree, but already warn that things will not be so easy, also due to the Russian war in Ukraine. Material bottlenecks, rising prices and the dramatic rise in energy prices are now as much a part of everyday life on German shipyards as the threat of work stoppages. “A prioritization has already begun, a kind of triage on construction, of projects,” says the Federation of the German Construction Industry.

“We therefore assume that there may be a decline in new residential construction and ultimately also in the construction sector as a whole,” said managing director Tim-Oliver Müller of the German news agency. The federal government’s goal of 400,000 new apartments a year is at least under discussion. So far, Geywitz has taken too little into account in his planning.

Union real estate expert Jan-Marco Luczak criticized the alliance’s lack of solution proposals. “However, formulating goals that are already widely accepted is not yet political,” he stressed. “The Minister of Construction risks getting entangled in ideology and theoretical debates on the first meters. This means that we waste precious time until something actually arrives at the construction site ”. Caren Lay of the left-wing faction, on the other hand, complained that expensive luxury apartments and condos haven’t solved the problem of affordable housing. Instead, she suggested that from now on only social housing should be built in urban centers with a tight housing market.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220427-99-58744 / 2

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