Windmill De Otter

News of: Wednesday, November 02 2011,

Highest court: windmill 'De Otter' to stay in Amsterdam - for now

The 'Raad van State' (the highest court in the Netherlands for administrative law issues) has ruled that windmill 'De Otter' will not yet have to move out of Amsterdam.

Another step has been made in the -by now- remarkable tale of windmill De Otter in Amsterdam, that has played out since 1998.

De Otter is one of the 8 windmills in Amsterdam, it was built in 1631. The windmill is a wood-sawing windmill, a type of windmill that was very common in Amsterdam in the 17th and 18th century.
The invention of this type of windmill enabled the Dutch merchants to build the shipping fleet with which they would dominate the world seas for almost a century - the Dutch Golden Age.

All windmills of this type have disappeared from Amsterdam, except De Otter, just west of the Jordaan area.

The trouble started in 1998, when the neighbourhood council where De Otter is located, allowed high-rise apartment buildings to be built near the windmill. The owner of the windmill fought this development, because the buildings would block the wind for the windmill to operate properly. The windmill owner says the windmill needs to turn regularly, otherwise it will deteriorate.

The windmill owner lost several court cases, and the apartment buildings were finished in 2006. The owner decided to stop operating the windmill, and closed it for good.
The owner then decided he wanted to move the windmill to an industrial heritage park in the town of Uitgeest, which is some 25 km north of Amsterdam.
However, since De Otter is an official historic monument, the owner needs a license from the neighbourhood council to move the windmill. The neighbourhood council refused the license, saying a monument like this belongs in Amsterdam.

The windmill owner took the neighbourhood council to court about this decision, and won in first instance. The Amsterdam Court decided the neighbourhood council had not properly reasoned its refusal to issue the license, and the court decided a license must be issued.

The Raad van State, the highest court in the Netherlands, decided, however, that it is true that the neighbourhood council did not properly reason its decision to not give the license.
But the Raad van State also decided the Amsterdam Court could not order the neighbourhood counil to issue the license.
The Raad van State therefore decided today the neighbourhood council must take a new decision about the license to move the windmill, this time with proper argumentation.

Pending this decision, De Otter will remain in Amsterdam.

Probably, this will not be the end of the matter. In all likelyhood, the neighbourhood council will again refuse the license for moving the windmill, and the owner will probably appeal against this decision.
At the time of writing, a reaction was available of neither the neighbourhood council, nor the windmill owner.

Update November 4:
After the decision of the Raad van State, the Foundation Industrial Heritage Park in Uitgeest has announced it will end its activities, and cease to exist (the Foundation endeavoured to keep the memory alive of Cornelis Corneliszoon of Uitgeest, the inventor of the wood sawing windmill).
This means the owner of windmill De Otter can no longer try to move the windmill to Uitgeest.

See also our page about the 8 windmills in Amsterdam.

Windmill De Otter

Windmill De Otter

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