A HPP chitchat: Ellen Schindler & Heleen Aart



[Lees in Nederlands]

All-day long, we are busy deliberating, thinking, deciding and acting. How important is it to pause and connect in the middle of our daily business? At Holland Property Plaza, we know the answer. Very important! So there we went. On the road through the Netherlands with our orange HPP seat. Visiting the decision-makers in our network. On the lookout for a connection. A real one.

Our first stop was the office of developer Amvest, the centrepiece of their own area development called Cruquius. With a view over the Entrepot Harbour, CEO Heleen Aarts (Amvest) and partner | CEO Ellen Schindler (De Zwarte Hond) took their seats in the orange chairs to think about strategic challenges and common interests. A moment of connection to build the future together.

The collective philosophy
But how do you do that; together? That is, and remains, a great challenge according to the two directors. Not only nationally or within a project, but also on a smaller scale within the organisation. Heleen: “Now that we have been able to meet each other physically very little due to the corona restrictions, I experience how important it is that you keep talking to each other. And that we continue to tell our story within Amvest. For example, our motives and values. That doesn’t happen all by itself and certainly not online”. Ellen: “Yes, how do you connect everyone to the great collective philosophy and how do you achieve cohesion through those screens?” Heleen: “You notice that people feel the need to talk to each other in order to determine the course of action together.

Social issues from a collective perspective
On a national level, too, cooperation is crucial for the future. Ellen: “We are faced with major social issues that cannot be solved through individual projects or initiatives. They must be tackled from a kind of collective and with an all-embracing vision”. Heleen: “Yes, that was exactly our approach with the ‘Actieagenda Wonen’; more than thirty stakeholders in the housing market, such as investors, housing corporations, the Vereniging Eigen Huis and construction companies, who said ‘we have to do this together, this way’. A fantastic offer to the government which, as far as I’m concerned, we should start working on immediately.”

Embedded mistrust
For good cooperation between the players in the property sector, the decision-makers believe that some embedded mistrust must disappear. Heleen: “You don’t really see it at project level, but it is institutionalised, especially between the market and the government and in public opinion. That’s what’s holding us back from speeding up”.

Ownership of the environment
There is also room for improvement at the project level. Ellen: “It is very important to set broadly supported conditions within a partnership and also to think about whether those partnerships could or should be different in the future.” Heleen: “Yes, also with regard to the exploitation of an area. We must feel jointly responsible for the public space, including safety and livability. That sense of ownership of what happens in the area should not only rest with the municipality, but with all parties involved in the chain”.

We quietly pack up our things and head off to our next duo of decision-makers, Heleen and Ellen will continue to talk for a while. And that is exactly what we are looking for at HPP: a real conversation and a lasting connection… to build the future together.


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