News of: Thursday, April 22 2010,

Windmill 'De Otter' to remain in Amsterdam

The 17th century windmill 'De Otter' has to remain in Amsterdam. The owner will not get a permit to move it.

The story of 'De Otter' is a story of Foundation 'De Otter' (owner of the windmill) vs. the neighbourhood council Westerpark (the local city authorities), that wants the windmill to stay in Amsterdam.

But it could also be said it is a story of cultural/industrial heritage conservation vs. real estate development.

The windmill De Otter (dating from 1638) is the only remaining wood sawing mill in Amsterdam. It is also the only windmill in Amsterdam (of the 8 remaining Amsterdam windmills) that is still on the location where it was constructed. It is located just West of the Jordaan area (see map).

Once, there were hundreds of these wood sawing windmills in and around Amsterdam. The invention of the wood sawing mill, around 1600, greatly accelerated the ability of the Dutch to produce ships, and so become an important seafaring nation. The 17th century was Holland's Golden Age.

Various tall apartment buildings have been built around De Otter in the past decade. Foundation De Otter contested the real estate development, as these building would take away the wind. According to the Foundation and many windmill experts, in order to maintain the windmill, it has to work, therefore wind is essential for its conservation.

Now that the buildings have been constructed, the Foundation decided it wanted to move the windmill to a Heritage Park, in Uitgeest, some 15 miles North of Amsterdam. There it can catch all the wind it needs. A long list of cultural and heritage organizations backed the decision of the Foundation.
However, for the windmill to move, the owner needs a monument permit, which the city authorities are not willing to give. They want to maintain the windmill for Amsterdam, on its original location.

In a latest court case, the Raad van State (the highest court in the Netherlands) decided that, after a wind test that was carried, the windmill can catch enough wind to survive on its present location. Therefore, the city does not have to give the moving permit, and the windmill has to stay in Amsterdam.

See also our page about the windmills in Amsterdam (De Otter is number 2 on the list)..

See Also