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One in three churches awaits vacancy

The number of churchgoers has been declining for a long time, which means that more and more churches are closing their doors. Nevertheless, the fastest decrease in the number of visitors does not occur until the next ten years. This is mainly due to the loss of the oldest generation who still visit the church regularly. By 2030, churches are expected to welcome only 900,000 people a year. A decrease of no less than 44% compared to 2010. Due to this decline, one third of the churches in the country will become vacant.

Visitors per week to unsustainable level
Churches nowadays attract an average of 250 weekly visitors. With an unchanged number of churches, this number will fall to less than 170 a week in 2030. For the Roman Catholic church, the impact is even greater with an expected number of churchgoers of 105 per week. In order to keep the same occupation per church as now, approximately 1,700 churches would have to close. That is on average about five per municipality. The actual number is probably even higher, because in many cases the number of visitors is often too low to be able to pay the maintenance costs.

Eric Annaert, head of social real estate: “A solution must be found for these surplus church buildings in the coming ten years. Consideration can be given to sales, the merging of churchgoers, giving the building a different purpose, or demolishing. ”

What exactly is a church worth?
The average selling price of a church is now more than 1,000 euros per square meter. The prices only vary enormously. Sometimes the building changes ownership for a symbolic amount of 46 euros per square meter, but square meter prices of 4,550 euros can also be seen. Much depends on the possibilities to give the church a different purpose. If a transformation to, for example, houses or a hotel is possible, this will be beneficial for parishes and congregations. This is often still a sensitive subject for these parties.

Eric Annaert: “It is important that parishes, dioceses and congregations draw up a church strategy and proactively take control. This way, valuable buildings can be preserved for society. As a church or with another purpose."

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Eric Annaert

Partner | Director

Amsterdam

I look at the long-term value in my work, and therefore I look at the relationship with my clients as long term as well. I am constantly looking at the choices my clients need to make, and how I can assist them in making the best choice. I have worked for some of my clients for more than 15 years. My work, and that of my team, is based on confidence and trust. For me, these are the key values that I bring to my clients.

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