In Langenhorn, allotment gardens and protected moorland are to make way for social housing. Nobody is happy about this, but alternatives are rare.
To make way for social housing: allotment gardens in the north of Hamburg Photo: Diekmoor II e. V.
700 new apartments are to be built in Langenhorn-Nord, right next to the subway station. And actually, the corresponding examination and planning order that the Senate has given to the North District Office would be really good news, especially since more than half of the units are planned as social housing. If something were not already standing on the site. For example, the allotment garden associations Diekmoor I and Diekmoor II have their plots here. In addition, the site is designated as a landscape conservation and moorland area.
The associations are "not thrilled" about the plans, says Herman von der Heide, chairman of Diekmoor I. Bernd Hohmuth, chairman of Diekmoor II, also finds it a pity that the clubs have to make way. Initially, his club area was to disappear completely, but he has since received an offer that 25 percent of the area could be integrated into the construction project.
The decision does not come as a complete surprise: Diekmoor has been designated as a potential development area for quite some time. The 16 hectares east of the Bornbach "form the last large, contiguous area of residential construction potential in Hamburg-Nord," according to a statement from the Department of Urban Development and Housing. Senator Dorothee Stapelfeldt (SPD) speaks of the importance of the project "for the entire city." Because Hamburg lacks housing, the districts are obliged to create 10,000 housing units annually, explains District Office North spokeswoman Larissa Robitzsch.
The so-called framework planning process can now take up to two years and is open-ended, says Robitzsch. Citizens are also to participate in this first step of the construction project. What exactly that will look like, however, is "still open," says Robitzsch. A participatory process is planned, possibly "with random participation.
Protected biotopes remain lost, even if compensation areas are found for them
In this first phase, experts will also assess the conditions on site and make recommendations accordingly. In the end, "an exemplary quarter in terms of urban planning, landscape planning and architecture" is to be created, announced District Office Director Michael Werner-Boelz.
The office also wants to enter into dialogue with the allotment garden associations. Hohmuth, the chairman of Diekmoor II, notes that "dialog" sounds as if the associations are involved in the planning – but that is not the case. In December of last year, they had merely been informed by authorities and the Landesbund der Gartenfreunde.
Both von der Heide and Hohmuth oppose the project mainly for two reasons. On the one hand, they would receive compensation for the loss of their current areas – this is an important part of the dialogue, says spokeswoman Robitzsch -,
but the location of the land is unacceptable, for example, because it is in the flight path of the airport. Recreation is not possible there, says Hohmuth. Alternatively, they should approach the neighboring clubs and "redensify" the areas. But Hohmuth doesn’t want to take space away from another club either.
Besides, there is still the protected area. It is true that since an agreement was reached between the Senate and the initiative "Hamburgs Grun erhalten" (Preserving Hamburg’s Green), which is supported by NABU, this cannot simply be cancelled without being replaced elsewhere – but these protected biotopes would also be lost if there were new areas somewhere. Manfred Braasch, executive director of BUND Hamburg says: "Urban development is once again taking place at the expense of our protected landscapes."
The sealing of soil required for the construction project is also bad for the water balance, continues Christian Gerbich, nature conservation officer at Nabu Hamburg. Both environmental federations want to keep the project therefore exactly in the eye and accompany critically.
Although the allotment gardeners are not alone in their criticism, they want to "keep their feet still" for the time being and continue to be ready for talks in order to "get the best out of it. Von der Heide also wants to do everything possible to preserve as much area as possible. Another plan is being pursued by one of the tenants of Diekmoor I, Michael Heering. He wants to network on a large scale, independent of associations, in order to muster as much resistance as possible. He is concerned with preserving the open spaces that are especially important "during Corona".