Luxembourg grapples with a lack of affordable housing. The National Society for Affordable Housing (SNHBM) is one of the actors that is supposed to change that – but some of its projects are plagued by exceedingly long delays.
At first glance, the block of flats in Rue Anne Beffort in Kirchberg looks like the first residents could move in any day now.
The building has been in this condition for several months but so far, not a single person has moved in. In early February, people who live in the vicinity reached out to our colleagues from RTL.lu to inform them that in Rue Anne Beffort near the primary school, there are 34-45 flats newly built by SNHBM that had been vacant for the past six months. In the context of the housing crisis, this would certainly raise some questions.
RTL.lu contacted the director of SNHBM, Guy Entringer, and asked him about the project. At the time, Entringer stated that it is nearing completion. But two months later, the situation seems to have remained the same. Only two lone workers were recently spotted on the ground floor. Meanwhile, it appears that people have started to use the building's entrance to get rid of stuff they no longer need.
Neighbours once again contacted our colleagues from RTL.lu, claiming that rumours suggest that poor planning is to blame for the delay. Our colleagues reached out to SNHBM for comment but have yet to receive a response.
Another SNHBM project in the north of the country also seems to struggle with delays. In July 2018, Guy Entringer, then Minister for Housing Marc Hansen, and former Mayor of Diekirch Claude Haagen presented their vision for the future of the former Cité militaire in Diekirch.
The aim was to build 180 flats, offices, shops, and recreational facilities by 2022. One-third of the flats were to be sold on the open market on a 99-year emphyteutic lease. The remaining two-thirds were to be used solely for rental purposes. Varying sizes and pricing were intended to ensure social diversity. To keep the new neighbourhood car-free, a multi-story car park with 350 parking spaces was to be built in Rue Alexis Heck.
A few weeks later, the Diekirch municipal council adopted the General Development Plan (PAG). In spring 2019, the existing buildings were to be demolished to allow roadworks to start. These works were scheduled to last a year, paving the way for construction of the new buildings to begin in early 2020. The first occupants were scheduled to arrive in late 2022.
At the time, Entringer described the schedule as "rather ambitious but still realistic." And he was right – at least when it comes to the first part of that sentence. Because the old buildings are still standing nearly five years later, i.e., four years after they were meant to be demolished. However, it does appear that this is about to change.
What caused these significant delays? Were the buildings still in use during this time, and if so, for what? What is the new schedule? And what about the project for the army's new administrative building in Ettelbruck? Our colleagues from RTL.lu forwarded these questions to SNHBM and the military in early March. They received a response thanking them for their interest and referring them to a press conference in April.