The Future of JHQ Rheindahlen

“IHEK RHEINDAHLEN-MITTE” DOCUMENT

This report on the future development of Mönchengladbach published in October 2019 details the plan that the “Stadt Mönchengladbach” and various official Federal Republic of Germany departments have agreed upon for the future of JHQ Rheindahlen.

After hearing the West District Representation and recommendations from the Planning and Construction Committee, Finance Committee and Main Committee, the City Council decided on the “Integrated Action and Development Concept for Rheindahlen-Mitte” on December 11, 2019.

Click on the image or the link above to view the complete document (in German).

Below is my summary of the sections referring to JHQ (translated from German) as well as a translation of the complete sections that refer to JHQ.

MAP OF AREAS COVERED BY THE “IHEK RHEINDAHLEN-MITTE” DOCUMENT

This map shows the areas referred to below and are well worth a look.

 

Summary of the sections referring to JHQ in the IHEK document

After RAF Wegberg Hospital had been returned to the Federal Republic of Germany in 2010, the main area of JHQ was officially handed over to the Federal Republic of Germany on December 13, 2013 after it had been completely vacated.

Following the closure of JHQ many talks took place between many parties with many different ideas being put forward and it was decided that JHQ should be included in infrastructure improvement plans for “Rheindahlen-Mitte”. This resulted in the creation of the IHEK planning document described here.

It was also agreed that two or three “areas of intensive use” should be provided on the site, suitable for commercial enterprises or research institutions that deal with the topic of renewable energies. However, during the discussions, the “Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf”, which is responsible for regional planning, stated clearly that, from their perspective, the need for commercial building space within the urban area was adequately covered. For this reason, the provision of a “commercial and industrial area in the regional plan” for the area of ​​JHQ was excluded by the “Regionalplanungsbehörde“.

The following uses of the former JHQ and RAF Wegberg Hospital areas were agreed on  December 11, 2019 by the City Council of the “Stadt Mönchengladbach”. Refer to the map above for details of the various locations.

Initial Reception Facility for Asylum Seekers (EAE Facility)

In the middle of 2013, the site of the former JHQ was included for the first time as a potential location for an EAE Facility by the “Bezirksregierung Arnsberg” and the “Landes North Rhine-Westphalia”. Whilst around 200 places, in the form of emergency accommodation were already used in the facility during the first half of 2016, the EAE Facility was officially opened on August 17, 2016 with an initial capacity of 250 asylum seekers. Since the summer of 2018 there are 1,500 places available, expanding, in the long term, to 2,000 places. 

Use of parts of the eastern area of JHQ for Police Training Facility

Part of the eastern area of JHQ has been allocated to the setting up of a Police Training Facility which will offer the “North Rhein Westfalia” police, in particular their Special Units, unique training opportunities to practice tactical procedures and actions for special situations under the most realistic conditions possible.

The existing buildings and infrastructure will provide ideal conditions for future-oriented advanced training for the “Polizei NRW“. A lease is planned for a period of at least 10 years. The area covered has not yet been published.

Demolition and “renaturation” of the western area of JHQ.

The western area of JHQ will remain in the possession of the Federal Republic of Germany and is to be set aside for the purpose of “renaturing” as part of the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan and will be maintained by the Federal “Forest Organisation”. To be able to use the areas for “renaturing” the existing buildings must be cleared and first area to be demolished has been determined (see map above). 

The “Stadt Mönchengladbach” is very interested in making the area accessible to the public for recreational purposes after the existing buildings have been demolished. To this end, part of the existing road and path network is to be retained. The large amount of recycling material that will be accumulated during the planned demolition and dismantling work should, depending on the volume, either be installed on site or removed from the area.

To increase the attractiveness of the resulting natural area, to achieve a higher recreational value and to reflect the formative use of the last five decades for the city, the resulting demolition material should be used to build landscape structures (hills) with viewpoints. Furthermore, routes from the time of military use are to be preserved. (I also recollect reading somewhere that all street signs will remain in place and a “Memorial Route” will be set up with information boards describing life on JHQ)

The landscaping is intended to give the citizens of the city the opportunity to experience the adjoining FFH and Nature Reserves and, in addition, to establish views over the city area in all directions, especially towards the city centre.

Remaining areas of JHQ

In the long term, over the next 15 years, it has been indicated that the other areas of the JHQ are also to be “renatured” .

RAF Wegberg Hospital

The area of the RAF Wegberg Military Hospital is to be “renatured”.

Complete sections referring to JHQ in the IHEK document (translated from German)

Integrated Action and Development Concept (IHEK) for the Rheindahlen-Mitte District – October 2019

1 Introduction and Aims

Since the start of the construction of the Joint Headquarters (JHQ) in 1952, its residents and the settlement itself have significantly influenced the social, economic, and cultural structures of the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” district. The settlement, located on the western edge of the Mönchengladbach urban area, is divided into two areas, the main area JHQ (“Rheindahlen Complex”) and the RAF Wegberg Military Hospital (“Wegberg Complex”) covering a total area of ​​471 hectares. Two years after the decision was taken in 1952, the settlement was largely ready for occupancy.

At peak times, over 10,000 people lived and worked in JHQ. Although Dutch, Belgian, and German workers also lived and worked in JHQ, everyday life was mainly British in character. This manifested itself in the garden-inspired, urban character of the settlement, but also through the typically British culture, sports, and services offerings. The cultural life of another nation radiated from JHQ and the settlement, whilst a secured area, was at the same time an open, accessible place.

After the hospital site (“Wegberg Complex”) had been returned to the Federal Republic of Germany in 2010, the main area of JHQ was officially handed over to the “Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben (BImA)” on December 13, 2013 after it had been completely vacated.

After numerous consultations with local citizens in recent years it was clear that the departure of the British Armed Forces had left a large gap in the social life and impacted the economy of the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” district. The residents of JHQ had influenced the way of life of the district throughout their continued presence over many decades. Many friendships developed between the British and the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” citizens during this time and with the departure of the British part of the district’s history was also lost.

Supported by local politicians, there have been talks recently between the “Stadt Mönchengladbach” and the “Ministerium für Heimat, Kommunales, Bau und Gleichstellung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen”, in which it was determined that the departure of the British Armed Forces had impacted the Rheindahlen-Mitte district and that action should be taken, using a variety of funding sources, including funding from the Federal and State Urban Redevelopment Program.

Plans to improve the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” district had already been considered in 2016 and 2017. Two workshops were held with the participation of representatives selected by the citizens of the district, with the focus being on the redesign of the “Mühlentorplatz” together with a change to the traffic management in the immediate vicinity.

To be able to call up funds from the Federal and State Urban Redevelopment Program, the Ministry made the proposal that an Integrated Action and Development Concept for the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” district (“IHEK”) should be developed. The “IHEK” is an informal planning instrument which, after a detailed analysis has been undertaken, demonstrates the need for action for larger, coherent, urban development areas, determines the objectives and develops the necessary measures. In addition, the “IHEK” should aim to achieve the goals of the Urban Development Strategy “mg + Growing City”. This document summarizes the need for action and details the measures that need to be undertaken to achieve a sustainable stabilization of “Rheindahlen-Mitte”. The focus will be on the upgrading the centre and strengthening local mobility within the district.

continues with other areas of “Rheindahlen-Mitte” until the subject of what to do with the Joint Head Quarter (JHQ) is discussed …

3.3 Conversion Joint Head Quarter (JHQ)

The Joint Head Quarters (JHQ) are located on the western edge of the “Stadtgebietes von ​​Mönchengladbach”, in the “Stadtbezirk West im Stadtteil Rheindahlen-Land”. Its immediate neighbours are the communities of Wegberg and Schwalmtal, which are both in the “Regierungsbezirk Köln”.

The JHQ was a military base in which the headquarters of RAF Germany (RAFG), the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and the two NATO headquarters NORTHAG and 2ATAF were located. However, amongst the local population JHQ was always referred to as the “British Headquarters”.

The property is divided into two areas, the main area JHQ (“Rheindahlen Complex”) with an area of 376 hectares and the RAF Wegberg Military Hospital (“Wegberg Complex”) with an area of 95 hectares, a total area of 471 hectares. In 1952 the British Armed Forces (HQ BAOR) decided to relocate their headquarters from Bad Oeynhausen and other locations across Northern Germany to Rheindahlen and the land required was requisitioned from the local Monforts von Hobe family and later purchased by the Federal Republic of Germany.

After only a two-year construction phase JHQ was opened in August 1954. In December 1954, a large part of the area was fully populated and operational. There were 1,380 residential units comprising of detached, semi-detached, and terraced houses in 14 different house types, most of which were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Another 48 residential units were provided in eight apartment buildings from 1965 onwards. In total JHQ had around 150,000 square meters of living space. In addition to the residential buildings, there were many non-residential buildings. Workshops, offices, meeting rooms, garages etc. were housed in 980 barrack-style buildings, mostly single-storey. The most imposing building on the property and the largest administrative building in Europe in the year that it was built was “The Big House”. It is consisted of three storeys and provided 2,000 offices with walls that were easily relocatable providing very flexible layouts.

Other facilities in JHQ were: a Secondary School, 3 Junior Schools, 4 Nursery Schools, 2 Adult Education Centers, 3 Rugby pitches, 11 Soccer pitches, 2 Cricket grounds, a 50m Swimming Pool, 12 Tennis courts, 4 Squash courts, 2 Athletics running tracks, 2 Gyms, a Fitness Center, a Hockey field, a cinema (Globe Cinema), 2 NAAFI shops, a Fire Station, 3 Churches, a gas station (already dismantled) and a row of German shops.

At peak times, over 10,000 people lived and worked in JHQ. Although Dutch, Belgian, and German workers also lived and worked in JHQ, everyday life was mainly British in character. This manifested itself in the garden-inspired, urban character of the settlement, but also through the typically British culture, sports, and services offerings. The cultural life of another nation radiated from JHQ and the settlement, whilst a secured area, was at the same time an open, accessible place. Local “Sunday Walkers” looked for, and found, a piece of Great Britain in the Lower Rhine region of Germany.

The British Armed Forces also had residential properties outside of JHQ, for example, in Mönchengladbach-Windberg and at the Nordpark. Since 2009, the residential buildings outside of JHQ have all been vacated and handed over to the “Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben”. Also, on JHQ, the residential areas were gradually emptied from West to East as the soldiers and their families living there were distributed to other locations in Germany (these have since been vacated) or they returned to the United Kingdom.

In 2010 the grounds of the RAF Wegberg Military Hospital (“Wegberg Complex”) were returned to the Federal Republic of Germany. Due to the lack of permanent monitoring of this property, there have been many incidences of trespass and vandalism, some resulting in fire damage to many of the buildings.

On December 13th, 2013, JHQ was officially handed over by the British Armed Forces to the “Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben (BImA)” after it was completely vacated. Before that, in the summer of 2013, a big farewell party took place in JHQ which was attended by many Mönchengladbach citizens.

As already mentioned above, JHQ was of great importance to the “Stadt Mönchengladbach” and especially the neighbouring districts of Rheindahlen and Hardt. In the row of “German Shops” there was, among other retail outlets, a branch of the “Stadtsparkasse” and a Travel Agency. In addition to the members of the British Armed Forces and their families, many German civilian employees also worked in JHQ. In the district of Hardt, shortly after the establishment of the JHQ, a settlement of terrace houses was built for civilian employees of JHQ. In addition to the facilities offered by JHQ, many of the British Armed Forces and their family members also used facilities in Rheindahlen, such as the indoor swimming pool at the “Schulzentrum” or the local retail outlets.

After numerous consultations with local citizens in recent years it was clear that the departure of the British Armed Forces had left a large gap in the social life and impacted the economy of the “Rheindahlen-Mitte” district. The residents of JHQ had influenced the way of life of the district throughout their continued presence over many decades. Many friendships developed between the British and the citizens of “Rheindahlen-Mitte” during this time and with the departure of the British part of the district’s history was also lost.

3.3.1 Conversion Process

Over the past eight years, the “Stadtverwaltung der Stadt Mönchengladbach”, together with the landowners “BImA” and, until the end of 2014, the consulting firm “Beratungsbüro NRW Urban”, commissioned by the “Land North Rhine-Westphalia”, has considered several options for the reuse of the property.

In December 2012, the then Lord Mayor signed a Conversion Agreement with the “BImA”, which regulated the further joint co-operation for the conversion of the military area into a civilian use after the withdrawal of the British Armed Forces.

A “multi-stage workshop process” on the future of JHQ had already been undertaken in 2010 and 2011, in which, in addition to representatives of the “Stadtverwaltung”, the “BImA” and “NRW Urban”, numerous external experts, representatives from neighbouring communities and the “NRW-Fachministerien” took place. As a result of these workshops, clear objectives for a possible re-use of the JHQ site emerged. Everyone involved in the workshops agreed that significant parts of the area should be “renatured”. Neither residential use nor industrial and commercial use was considered by those involved as a possible subsequent use of the property. Instead, it was decided that a significant part of the area previously used by the military should be used for the design of open spaces, for “renaturing” measures and for recreational use. Likewise, consideration should be given to using areas for the capture of renewable energies and/or agricultural use.

It was also agreed that two or three “areas of intensive use” should be provided on the site, suitable for commercial enterprises or research institutions that deal with the topic of renewable energies.

However, during the discussions, the “Bezirksregierung Düsseldorf”, which is responsible for regional planning, stated clearly that, from their perspective, the need for commercial building space within the urban area was adequately covered. For this reason, the provision of a “commercial and industrial area in the regional plan” for the area of ​​JHQ was excluded by the “Regionalplanungsbehörde“.

The new Regional Plan of the “Regierungsbezirks Düsseldorf (RPD)” provided for open spaces within the area of JHQ, which was overlaid with groundwater and water protection areas. In addition, a wind priority zone was foreseen for parts of the JHQ site as well as in a northerly direction towards the Hardter Forest.

3.3.2 Initial Reception Facility for Asylum Seekers (EAE Facility)

In the middle of 2013, the site of the former JHQ was included for the first time as a potential location for an EAE Facility by the “Bezirksregierung Arnsberg” and the “Landes North Rhine-Westphalia”.

Shortly after the first considerations, the “Ministerium für Inneres und Kommunales NRW (MIK)”, the “Bezirksregierung Arnsberg”, the “Stadt Mönchengladbach”, the British Forces Germany (BFG), the “BImA” and “NRW Urban” accepted that area in the centre of JHQ (see Figure 16) could be used as an EAE Facility.

On behalf of the “Ministeriums für Inneres und Kommunales des Landes NRW”, represented by “Bezirksregierung Arnsberg”, “NRW Urban” carried out a feasibility study for the suggested area, to determine the structural and infrastructural expenses that would be required to enable its use as an EAE Facility.

The feasibility study was handed over to the “Land North Rhine-Westphalia” in January 2014 by “NRW Urban”. On December 23, 2014, a rental agreement was signed by “BImA” and the “Land North Rhine-Westphalia”. The “Bau- und Liegenschaftsbetrieb des Landes North Rhine-Westphalia” was commissioned to carry out the necessary structural and infrastructural measures for the construction of the Initial Reception Facility (EAE).

After the signing of the rental agreement in December 2014, additional requirements arose that made it necessary to expand the original rental space. In the meantime, the area used by the EAE Facility had almost doubled. In addition to the buildings used for the premises of the “Bundesamtes für Migration und Flüchtlinge” and the Administration of the EAEFacility, the original lease agreement between the “Bund” (Federal Republic of Germany) and the “Land North Rhine-Westphalia” was extended to include other buildings to accommodate asylum seekers, sports facilities and other areas and buildings required for administrative purposes. Figure 16 shows an overview of the individual uses.

Whilst around 200 places, in the form of emergency accommodation were already used in the facility during the first half of 2016, the EAE Facility was officially opened on August 17, 2016 with an initial capacity of 250 asylum seekers. Since the summer of 2018 there are 1,500 places available, expanding, in the long term, to 2,000 places.

3.3.3 Use of partial areas in the east of the property by the “Landespolizei”

The BImA is currently negotiating with the “Ministerium für Inneres und Kommunales (MIK)” regarding a temporary rental of the eastern part of the property to enable the “Landesamt für Aus- und Fortbildung der Polizei (LAFP)” to set up a Police Training Facility.

The site of the former JHQ offers the police, in particular their Special Units, unique training opportunities to practice tactical procedures and actions for special situations under the most realistic conditions possible. The existing buildings and infrastructure will provide ideal conditions for future-oriented advanced training for the “Polizei NRW“. A lease is planned for a period of at least 10 years.

The project is to be implemented in agreement with the “Stadt Mönchengladbach”. In a letter dated December 20, 2016, the Lord Mayor assured the “Landesamt für Aus- und Fortbildung der Polizei (LAFP)” that it would support the project insofar as it relates to the responsibilities of the “Stadt Mönchengladbach”.

In December 2016, the “Ministerium für Inneres und Kommunales (MIK)” notified the “BImA” of the specific State requirements. In the meantime, the project has also been registered as a strategic goal by the “Ministerium für Inneres und Kommunales (MIK)” with the “Ministerium für Finanzen des Landes NRW”.   

3.3.4 Demolition and “renaturation” of the western sub-area.

The Federal Republic of Germany informed the “Stadt Mönchengladbach” in 2017 that there was a Federal need for the western sub-area of ​​the property. The area will remain in the possession of the Federal Republic of Germany and is to be set aside for the purpose of “renaturing” as part of the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan and will be maintained by the Federal Forest organisation. To be able to use the areas for “renaturing” the existing buildings must be cleared and the “BlmA” have already defined the first area to be demolished. In the long term, the other areas of the JHQ are also to be renatured (see map).

The “Stadt Mönchengladbach” is very interested in making the area accessible to the public for recreational purposes after the existing buildings have been demolished. To this end, part of the existing road and path network is to be retained.

The large amount of recycling material that will be accumulated during the planned demolition and dismantling work should, depending on the volume, either be installed on site or removed from the area.

To increase the attractiveness of the resulting natural area, to achieve a higher recreational value and to reflect the formative use of the last five decades for the city, the resulting demolition material should be used to build landscape structures (hills) with viewpoints. Furthermore, routes from the time of military use are to be preserved. The landscaping is intended to give the citizens of the city the opportunity to experience the adjoining FFH and Nature Reserves and, in addition, to establish views over the city area in all directions, especially towards the city centre.

In a first step, the city and property owners have already defined the location of the planned buildings and centre, selected the roads that are to be kept, which should also refer to the former urban structures of the JHQ. The location of any buildings will be determined by the existing water protection zones. The area of the RAF Wegberg Military Hospital is to be “renatured”.