Change in the requirements for NSW (Nature Conservation Act) country estates

12 September 2019 - In order to promote the conservation of natural beauty in the Netherlands, the legislator offers a number of tax facilities to the owners of country estates. In exchange, the country estate must meet a number of requirements, particularly regarding the green areas and the nature on the grounds.

Classification Decree on the Nature Conservation Act

On 8 July 2019, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality published the internet consultation version of the Decree amending the Classification Decree on the Nature Conservation Act 1928. The decree will probably enter into force on 1 January 2021.

What do the changes mean for owners of country estates?

  • A manor house with an originally fortified house, castle, country house or country mansion, possibly with outbuildings, with an architecturally connected historical garden or park of at least 1 hectare, the construction of which dates back to before 1850, may be classified as a country estate. From 1 January 2021, the construction must date from before 1900.
  • At present, the Classification Decree provides a summary of what is meant by the definition of 'nature areas'. As from the amendment, the definition will be based on the Nature and Landscape Index, which is adopted by twelve provinces.
  • Under the current legislation, agricultural lands may be considered as nature areas under certain conditions. This provision will no longer be applicable. Agricultural lands may then only be eligible if nature areas have actually been created on the lands.
  • As an additional requirement, nature areas will have to be sufficiently 'robust'. This means that nature must have a surface area of at least half a hectare.
  • Following the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 on a property located in the United Kingdom, it is possible, under certain conditions, to classify a property located abroad as a country estate within the meaning of the Nature Conservation Act. With the amendment, these requirements will be included in the Classification Decree.
  • Immovable property with a surface area of between 1 and 5 hectares may be classified together with an adjacent estate (the so-called support and cooperation estates). Like other estates, at least 30 percent of these estates must be occupied by tree stands or natural areas. After the decree enters into force, at least 50% of these estates will be occupied by tree stands or nature areas.
  • Subject to conditions, immovable property smaller than 1 hectare may be classified as a country estate. After the amendment, these will only be immovable property that is encumbered with a limited right of usufruct or leasehold and of which the main entitlement rests with the owner of the adjoining estate.
  • Country estates on which one or more golf courses are located are given an additional criterion. At least 50 percent of the surface area of each golf course will have to be occupied by nature areas or tree stands.
  • The conditions for camping sites on country estates will change slightly. This will make it easier to use a camping site as an economic pillar on a country estate.

Date of entry

As indicated above, the new decree will enter into force on 1 January 2021, unless the consultation gives rise to a postponement. Anyone who wishes to have their immovable property classified as a country estate after that time, must comply with the amended requirements regarding their property. To country estates and immovable property, whether or not classified earlier for which a request for classification has been submitted prior to 1 January 2021, a transitional period of ten years will apply. As of 1 January 2031, all country estates must comply with the amended requirements in order to avoid any loss of status.
Would you like to know what the new classification requirements mean for you and your country estate or do you have any other questions on this subject? Our specialists regularly concern themselves with natural conservation country estates and their classification. We will also be happy to assist you if you believe your immovable property may qualify for classification as a country estate within the meaning of the Nature Conservation Act.

Want to know more?

Would you like more information about these changes? If so, please contact Frans Sonnevelt by e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 10 03 or Sanne Verbakel by e-mail or phone: +31 (0)88 277 12 08. They will be pleased to help.


Nature Conservation Act (NCA)

Under certain circumstances, as the owner of an estate, you can opt for so-called 'Nature Conservation Act facilities'.