The municipalities of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer (home to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport) have announced a temporary halt of the realization of new data centers in their region. According to these municipalities, data centers take up too much space and consume too much energy.

Amsterdam and Schiphol are logical locations for data centers for various reasons (e.g., access to important internet connection points). There are currently 34 data centers in Amsterdam.

Until now, several zoning plans – implicitly – have allowed for the realization of data centers, which would fall in the zoning as “business purposes” or likewise. In such cases, the municipal executive has had limited means to prevent the realization of new data centers. To halt the growth and pending regional regulation, both municipalities have taken a preliminary planning decision (voorbereidingsbesluit) to amend the relevant zoning plan(s). As a result, new building permit applications for data centers will in principle be suspended until a new draft zoning plan has been adopted.

A preliminary planning decision can remain in force for a maximum of one year. If no new draft zoning plan is adopted within this term, the suspension of any filed applications is lifted, and the filed building permit applications must in principle be granted (if in line with the existing zoning plan and other requirements). A preliminary planning decision can be renewed after the initial one-year term. This renewal will, however, no longer affect any permit applications filed during the first preliminary planning decision’s term.

It may take some time for the municipalities to develop new draft zoning plans. For parties active in data center development in the Netherlands, it is therefore important to monitor the developing policies of these municipalities and to prepare a strategy to deal with the municipal actions in an optimal way. Interested parties are entitled to participate and comment on the draft zoning plan.