Photo description: Left before the stairs is the triangle with the weak basement roof. Image: Municipality The Hague
The Hague is pulling out its wallet to solve the problems with the basement deck of the Legoland Discovery Center on the Scheveningen boulevard. The load-bearing capacity of the basement deck is not strong enough for heavy transport. To solve this problem, the boulevard around Legoland will be widened by six meters. A majority of the city council gave the green light on Thursday evening to allocate almost three million euros for this. Alderman Anne Mulder (VVD): ‘We don’t want to run any risk.’
The criticism from the opposition was not unfounded. ‘The cesspool is getting bigger and bigger and the disaster is spreading like an oil slick,’ said Peter Bos of the Hague City Party. SP party chairman Lesley Arp called it one of The Hague’s ‘headache projects’ and Robert Barker of the Party for the Animals spoke of a ‘bottomless pit’.
The issues concern the basement deck of Legoland Discovery . The attraction is located in the former Vitalizee building on the boulevard and is partly located in a cellar under the boulevard. But at the point where a giraffe is meters high, the roof of the basement has insufficient bearing capacity for heavy trucks and cranes. That is why the municipality wants to widen the boulevard at this location by six meters towards the beach. The heavy transport, which is necessary for setting up and breaking down beach bars, for example, can then be transported to this part of the boulevard.
This solution costs almost three million euros and the city council gets it from the proceeds of the sale of energy company Eneco. The municipality has held developer SENS real estate liable for these extra costs, because it did not deliver the project according to the agreements. But alderman Anne Mulder (VVD) does not want to wait for this ‘legal process’ that is still ongoing, because otherwise Scheveningen entrepreneurs will have to wait longer for the start of the renovation of the central boulevard. That is why Mulder now wants a solution and has found it in making the boulevard wider.
Developer SENS real estate told Omroep West on Wednesday that the Legoland basement deck is safe and can be used for its intended purpose. Although the basement deck was delivered slightly less load-bearing than had been agreed, the municipality is aware of its limitations, said Gerad Schoenaker of SENS. ‘The basement deck complies with its intended use. All security forces and supply trucks can ride and stand on it,” he said. According to Schoenaker, the municipality has added the basement deck to get the widening of the boulevard through. ‘That broadening was always the intention.’
Alderman Mulder received the support of a majority of the city council for his solution. ‘We want the renovation of the central boulevard to start as soon as possible,’ said D66 party chairman Dennis Groenewold. Mariëlle Vavier of GroenLinks said she was ‘bummed’ by the construction blunders. “I’m fine with the damage being recovered from the developer,” she said.
But the opposition was extremely critical. “Widening the beach is not a solution, because the basement deck will not be repaired,” said councilor Bos of the Hague City Party. ‘We want SENS to take responsibility, repair and strengthen the basement deck and leave the beach alone.’ So said Robert Barker of the Party for the Animals. “The basement deck needs to be repaired and we don’t want the beach to be sacrificed.”
The PVV was surprised about the lecture of developer SENS at Omroep West . Gerad Schoenaker of SENS said the municipality was aware of the limited carrying capacity of the basement deck. “That sheds a different light on the alderman’s story,” said PVV party leader Sebastian Kruis. ‘How does this work?’
But the mayor declined to comment. “Negotiations are underway,” Mulder said. “That’s why we have to be careful what we say about this in public. There are interests at stake for many parties and I do not want to damage our negotiating position. That’s not wise.’
Barker of the Party for the Animals called it ‘crazy’ that the council wants to use almost three million euros for the widening of the boulevard, while the developer says that trucks can simply stand on the basement deck. Mulder: ‘We don’t want to take any risks. Maybe one can stand, but not with more trucks at the same time. Suppose a crane accidentally drives backwards, then the suffering is incalculable.’
Alderman Mulder’s proposal to widen the boulevard was adopted with a large majority, 33 votes in favor and 9 against. The ChristenUnie/SGP, the Haagse Stadspartij, SP, PVV, Nida and the Party for the Animals voted against.