The Senate has agreed on a multimillion euro ecological financial compensation package for green areas in the pursuit of its goal of approving 10,000 new flats per year. Hamburg is the first state in Germany to introduce such a mechanism for land use. Building owners and tenants are not additionally burdened. The Senator for Environment and Energy, Jens Kerstan, praised, the model, noting, “With the nature-cents we have a wise concept, which permits new housing and also displays and strengthens the green identity of Hamburg."
The Senate Chancellery and the Ministry for Environment and Energy agreed on details last week. The nature-cent outlines in detail how financial compensation would take effect for a large proportion of new residential and commercial areas in Hamburg in the future. The additional revenue from the real estate tax, arising from the redevelopment of an area, will be earmarked for a special “Nature Conservation and Landscape Management” fund. Before using a deregulated space, the current real estate tax revenue is determined. The increase in real estate tax revenue by development is then used directly for conservation measures as well as for maintenance of public and recreation parks.
The Senator for Environment and Energy, Jens Kerstan, explained: “Hamburg needs new apartments. At the same time, many citizens of Hamburg have legitimate concerns that the green lungs of the city are being lost through more intensive land use. We as a Senate are taking these concerns seriously. Families in Hamburg need affordable housing. But equally they need green areas where children can play. Especially when more and more people are living in Hamburg, we need places to unwind. This is where the nature-cents fund begins: if new flats are built on a lot, the means are already concomitantly available for enhancing public parks elsewhere and maintaining them better. By taking this step, we aim to preserve Hamburg’s natural capital. I am delighted that we are the first state in Germany to develop such a model.”
The districts themselves also have the opportunity to apply for means from the fund – the financial compensation funds are valid for the majority of green and open areas in Hamburg. To include the areas used for the “refugee accommodation perspective living” programme as well, it was decided that the “eco-solidarity supplement” would have retroactive effect from 1 January 2016. The eco-solidarity supplement has been introduced for an unlimited period. Up to three million euros can be provided as a prepayment on future revenue from the real estate tax. The annual revenue expected in 2016 for projects that are already at the planning and implementation stage amounts to around one million euros.
Building owners and tenants are not burdened by the nature-cent, as tax revenues are simply transferred within the Senate. Particularly ecologically valuable areas will remain off limits for residential and commercial use.