Are Nijmegen and Novio Tech Campus turning Winkelsteeg into the neighbourhood of the future?

Winkelsteeg—the area that borders the Maas-Waal canal, De Goffert station, and the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital—is an ideal area for development, primarily because of its location. Alderwoman Monique Esselbrugge and Novio Tech Campus CEO Bert Krikke explain what Winkelsteeg will look like in the future. “We used to build business parks on the outskirts of cities, but Winkelsteeg is right in the heart of Nijmegen!”

To Monique Esselbrugge, alderwoman of economic affairs for Nijmegen, it just makes sense that Winkelsteeg will become the city’s new area for development. “There are only a few places within city boundaries where we can grow, and Winkelsteeg offers the most opportunities out of all of them.” The plan is to turn Winkelsteeg into a neighbourhood that combines living, working, recreation, and lots of greenery.

Bert Krikke, CEO of Novio Tech Campus, is pleased with the city’s plans: Novio Tech Campus is located in Winkelsteeg, near De Goffert train station. “Further development of Winkelsteeg is sorely needed. If you cycle or drive through the area, you first have to pass through a very uninviting section of town with empty lots and poorly maintained buildings. The part of Winkelsteeg that borders the train station has been redeveloped, but if you pass under the station, it’s like you’re transported into a whole different world. Currently, the buildings on our Campus are a bit uninviting, and the car park at the west end really needs some tender love and care.”

Development is a two-way street

According to Monique, the business park currently lacks a clear identity. “We want to put more focus on the activities in Winkelsteeg: you have the high-tech industry at Novio Tech, but there’s also room for light industry—for example, 3D printing or book binding, which can easily be combined with Winkelsteeg’s living or recreational qualities.”

The Campus has development plans too. “Our Campus is filled to the brim at the moment,” Bert explains. “There’s high demand for new companies to settle, but we just can’t meet it right now. That’s why, we also want to expand our campus: 100,000 square meters of new Health and High-Tech Buildings!” According to Bert, these plans fit well with the city’s ideas for the district. “The area around De Goffert train station is ideal for a hybrid solution, combining living, working, and the Campus.”

The growth of Novio Tech Campus is a central goal of the new plans, says Monique. “We have been seeing Health and High-Tech companies ending up on Kerkenbos, which is a shame. A business sector like this needs its own place, and we can ensure one by helping the Campus grow.”

The same role, but a new function

Revamping the area around the Campus will also affect NTC itself. “Our role will never change: we are a Health and High-Tech campus and always will be. But I do see opportunities to change our function,” says Bert.

He explains that the Campus currently mostly attracts employees: “We want to change that. We want to become a city campus where you can take a nice walk or get a cup of coffee on the weekends, with lots of greenery, water, and beautiful architecture that’ll make the area attractive to a lot of different people.” Similarly, Bert wants to get rid of the 9-to-5 activity on the Campus. “We want it to turn into an area that people want to visit. We need new venues to achieve that, such as restaurants, sports facilities or meeting rooms—and, more broadly, child care facilities.”

There’s a reason the city is looking to combine all of these ideas with living space: “Nijmegen is in great need of more housing: Utrecht and Amsterdam are the only cities in the Netherlands that are under higher pressure, in terms of shortage,” says Monique. “A redeveloped Winkelsteeg with 4,000 new homes would mean a lot to Nijmegen. Plus, it would connect Dukenburg and Lindenholt to the city. There’s currently an area between those districts and the rest of Nijmegen where you just don’t come, unless you work there.”

Proud of their plans

Monique explains that the city is very proud of the plans they have come up with. “Municipalities don’t often invest heavily in business parks. We’re going to invest 85 million euros in Winkelsteeg to transform it into a beautiful district. I think it’ll become a unique, vibrant area with a lot of room for innovation.”

Because the plans of the municipality and Novio Tech Campus complement each other, Bert sees that it is important to keep one thing in mind: “Together, we have to carefully determine the pace of development and look for synergy. Take public transport, for example: when 4,000 new homes are built, the area will become a lot busier and require more busses, which our companies and employees will then also be able to use. This way, we kill two birds with one stone.”