Hague suburb agrees to US embassy relocation

1st April 2008, Comments 0 comments

Sports clubs, racing course and greyhound racing clubs will have to make way for the new embassy.

1 April 2008

THE HAGUE - The town council of Wassenaar has agreed to the relocation of the United States embassy into its municipality.

The site of the new building is a racing course at Duindigt. A number of greyhound racing clubs and other sports clubs will have to be relocated as a result. The whole terrain of the new embassy will be four hectares, ten percent of which will be built on. The move is planned to take place in 2010

The United States embassy is currently located on the Lange Voorhout, in the centre of the Hague, but security measures in place since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001 are causing a great deal of inconvenience.

Pedestrians, cyclists and cars have had to negotiate their way around the high fences and concrete blocks which surround the current building.

The decision is being seen as a huge success for the mayor of The Hague, Wim Deetman, who approached the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations in the US to seal a deal in which the Americans agreed to cooperate. At first they were reluctant to give up their prime location.

When the US authorities asked the city council for permission to place a 3.6 metre high fence around the building, the mayor gave them a choice: cooperate with a relocation or no fence.

In 2005, the Americans suggested relocating the embassy to the Clingendael estate, but this met with strong opposition from local residents, who demonstrated under the motto "No terror on our doorsteps". Luckily for them the estate fell under the Monument Act and the plan was scrapped.

The financial aspects of the deal are confidential, but it is clear that The Hague city council has had to make sacrifices. It must not only supply the land, but also compensate four sports clubs for their relocation.

Local residents are still anxious about their new neighbours. The chairman of the local residents' committee is calling it "Fort Knox in Wassenaar".

However agreements have been made to keep the area green and not to turn it into a bunker.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

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