Municipal council unanimously requests bigger supermarket

Future vision for the Utrecht Science Park approved

Impressie van USP in de toekomst
Illustration from the vision document.

The approval of the future vision (PDF file in Dutch, Ed.) is the capstone to a process that’s taken a few years. In this document, the municipal council establishes what the Utrecht Science Park is going to look like in a few decades. 

The main goals laid out in the document, first made public in June 2021, include an increase in the number of homes on campus. The area is also supposed to become more lively, with more greenery. To achieve this, the accessibility – especially by public transport – needs to improve and the car traffic needs to diminish.

Full-service supermarket
Earlier this year, residents and stakeholders manifested their criticisms to the plan. It looks like the members of the municipal council took the criticism to heart.

The number one complaint concerned the supermarket: the current one, operated by Spar, is considered too small and too expensive, not to mention its offer is limited. Initially, the vision document only promised a slightly larger supermarket, considering that another one, much bigger, is set to be inaugurated on Archimedeslaan, in the neighbouring neighbourhood Rijnsweerd, soon. 

But the residents would have none of it. Last spring, the political party PvdA started a petition and filed a motion in the municipal council. The only amendment to the document that was accepted last week – even with general votes – states that the USP needs to make space for a big, ‘full-service’ supermarket. Another party, GroenLinks, explained its vote by saying that it’s important to prevent the new supermarket to attract more car traffic to the area.

Olympos not to be relocated
Two other amendments were rejected. The party PvdD opposed additional bicycle paths that would cut through the meadows east of Utrecht Science Park, but did not find sufficient support. The amendment ‘Save the sheep meadow’, started by parties PvdD and Volt, didn’t receive enough votes either. The idea was to try and prevent the grass meadow at the entrance of the campus from being turned into a park-like area.

One of the factors influencing the rejection of this amendment is that the parties wish to keep the option of creating sports fields where the sheep meadow is now. These past few months, much was discussed about the sports facilities for students.

Sports foundation Mesa Cosa and many student sports associations are hoping to move to the west side of the Utrecht Science Park because they think the current space is too small. The vision document, however, assumes that the sports facilities will not be moving anywhere anytime soon.

Before a decision on the document was made, parties CDA and VVD tried to lobby for a new location for sports centre Olympos. A motion from CDA, called ‘More room for sports’, failed. A diluted motion by VVD, calling for ‘a thorough study on Olympos' location’ was passed.

Support for wind energy
Two motions looking to ensure that the Utrecht Science Park will become livelier, more liveable (which would be achieved thanks to more restaurants, cafés and cultural venues) and greener (through ‘façade gardens’ and green roofs) were adopted by the alderman, and did not have to be voted on.

Lastly, the motion ‘Tailwind at the USP’ received a majority vote in favour and was also passed. Some residents of the adjacent area were concerned about UU's plans to set up windmills at the USP, but most parties in the municipal council support the university's idea to generate its own energy, although they stress that it’s important to take the neighbours' worries seriously.