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New estate in Bonn-Röttgen: "Blue letter" because of gravel gardens at Hölder

New estate in Bonn-Röttgen : "Blue letter" because of gravel gardens at Hölder

Numerous homeowners in the new development area Am Hölder in Bonn-Röttgen have received mail from the building authorities. They are asked to dismantle their paved front gardens.

The 170 or so owners of detached houses in the Am Hölder development area were surprised to get a letter from Sigrun Scharf, head of the building regulations office. The topic: Their gravel gardens. Instead of being planted with flowers, they are filled with stones. Around 30 gravel gardens have been identified by administrative staff during inspections in the area. In addition they criticize that front gardens were paved extensively – as further parking lots for cars.

Scharf expressly does not want to "evaluate the visual effect of gravel gardens". But the ecological effect. In the three-page letter she promotes the classically planted front garden and argues against stone deserts. "I would be pleased if my arguments could convince you and soon no longer gravel and cobblestones will dominate the street scene of your new development area, but unpaved, greened and planted front gardens.“ She was hoping to inspire people to improve and redesign. In any case, this is preferable to official pressure. The penultimate sentence though gets one's attention because of its sharp tone: "However, if my letter of today does not bring about a redesign or if further gravel gardens are laid out, I must reserve the right to alsoachieve corresponding changes if necessary by official measures.“

Writing causes annoyance

According to Scharf, the legal basis is Section 8 of the NRW Building Regulations. It stipulates that areas not covered by buildings must be left "water-absorbable or to be constructed and greened or planted". However, because the number of gravel gardens and paved front gardens in Bonn's most current building area was noticed during final inspections, the building authority had "launched an all-round campaign and written to all residents. It is the first time that we proceed in this way," says Scharf. "I actually want to avoid an order." It would be all right if the owners at least put some plants in the stone desert.

The letter from the building authority caused irritation and annoyance, which local resident David Lutz experienced in conversations with neighbors. The CDU city councillor has been living in the Hölder development area for four years. Only a few plots are still undeveloped. This means that most of the approximately 375 planned residential units with a projected 1000 new residents have been occupied – mainly by families.

Many front gardens are completely paved

"Basically," Lutz thinks the cover letter from the building authorities is "good. It sensitizes the building owners to the problem". In view of the threat of official measures, however, he is irritated. Lutz does not believe that the owners, especially as they have not been living in the new house for so long, now want to bear the costs of deconstruction. "And anyway, why is the Hölder being picked out now? The administration should have told the builders that in advance." New citizen Christian Wrampelmeyer said: "Impossible. The city thought about that too late."

A walk through the new development area reveals how high the proportion of sealed areas is. In front of many houses, the garage entrance and front garden are completely paved. Several cars can be parked there. "Right from the start, parking in the new development area was an annoying topic. There are far too few parking spaces in the public space. Homeowners have inevitably created a solution on their property," says Lutz. In some streets there would be just four public parking spaces for every 40 residents.

When the construction site was designed on the drawing board 30 years ago, planners assumed one car per family. Today there are at least two. "For organizational reasons and because both parents often work, young families up here need two cars. It's quite rural. This is the charm of the area on the one hand. On the other hand, there is no direct connection to public transport. The everyday journeys are relatively long."

After all, the Hölder is soon to get more green. The trees in the streets are still missing. At present, the tree positions do not appear ready and at best serve as parking lots, which is not welcomed by the public order office and is punished as a misdemeanour.

(Original text: Jutta Specht / Translation: Mareike Graepel)