Utrecht unveils nature-friendly riverwalk at former window prostitution site
The banks of the Utrechtse Zandpad along the Vecht, have been made greener. The municipality of Utrecht and the Amstel, Gooi and Vecht water board worked together to redesign the Zandpad, an area known for sex workers engaged in window prostitution on houseboats, by adding shore and water plants.
The municipality and water board hope that making the bank greener will help improve the water quality of the Vecht, and also provide safer workplace for the sex workers themselves.
Prostitution on the Zandpad was halted in 2013 amid allegations of sex trafficking and criminal activity. Four years later, the houseboats which were used for the practice were towed away.
The sex workers were expected to return by 2022, with 96 workspaces created for them. Counselling and other social services will also be provided to the sex workers there.
"Where there used to be a bare shore, a bank has now been created with shore- and water plants. Birds, fish and insects use the vegetation to reproduce and shelter. Better water quality therefore also ensures more biodiversity", said Arjan van Rijn, who runs the water board's daily operations.
The new nature-friendly bank is also a good thing for cyclists, runners and walkers who visit the Vecht, says Utrecht alderman Lot van Hooijdonk. "Their route has become a lot greener with this new bank. I often run here myself and have already seen waterfowl nesting and even a school of fish. And that in the middle of the city, a part of Utrecht accessible to many people," he said.