Baarn approves plan to build housing in forest area over royal objections

The city council of Baarn approved a plan to cut down a piece of forest at Soestdijk Palace and to build homes on the former Koninklijke Marechaussee barracks. Only one party voted against the preliminary draft of the zoning plan for the Soestdijk estate, RTV Utrecht reports.

Princess Irene and Princess Margriet criticized the new owners' plans last week, saying they were "shocked" about the intention to cut down the so-called Borrebos near the palace. 

Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard lived in Soestdijk Palace from 1937 until their death in 2004. Three of their four daughters were born there. In 2017 the MeyerBergman Erfgoed Groep bought the estate with plans to realize a hotel, restaurants and housing around the palace, and to use money from the sale of apartments to renovate the palace. 

Only the Baarnsche Onafhankelijke Partij (BOP) voted against the proposed zoning plan, mainly because of the tree felling. "As if these are three woody villas that will be built in the Borrebos. The entire forest plot will be demolished," party leader Kees Koudstaal said, according to the broadcaster.

CDA faction leader Rik van Hardeveld contested that. "It is suggested that a whole forest will be cut down for housing. But it is only one hectare and there will be a lot of green in return."