Fmr. D66 leader to manage Binnenhof renovations

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The Binnenhof in The Hague. ()

The executive committee of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, asked former D66 leader Alexander Pechtold to lead the renovation of the Binnenhof in The Hague, State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said in a letter on Wednesday evening. Pechtold was chosen to be "process chairman" due to his "knowledge and expertise", Knops said, NOS reports.

The Tweede Kamer has been clashing with Knops and government real estate agency RVB over the upcoming renovation of the Binnenhof complex for months. The conflict mainly revolves around the renovation of the Tweede Kamer specifically. The parliamentarians do not like the designs submitted by the Rotterdam-based architectural firm OMA, appointed by the RVB, and worry that the project will not be handled "soberly and effectively". The parliamentarians want the renovations mainly to tackle overdue maintenance, and for everything else to stay largely the same, according to the broadcaster.

Recently Tweede Kamer president Khadija Arib openly criticized the RVB for paying insufficient attention to the users of the building that will be renovated. "We are the users and we must have a voice", Arib said during a parliamentary debate about the the budget for the Tweede Kamer. "We want to be taken seriously." Last month Knops was also criticized by the parliamentarians about his approach to the renovations, specifically on the Tweede Kamer. The coalition parties raised doubts about whether Knops and the RVB had enough control over this complex project. There are also concerns that the project will cost more than the agreed upon budget of 475 million euros and take longer than the agreed upon 5.5 years.

The hope is that Pechtold can help mediate a way out of this conflict. 

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