Groningen Municipality Considers Regulating 10-minute “Dark Stores”

By Francesco Morelli and Guido Cocconi

February 24, 2022. Two major cities in the Netherlands have temporarily banned 10-minute grocery delivery services, like Flink and Gorillas – Groningen still considers these new regulations. 9to5 talked to different political parties to get their stance.

Although Amsterdam and Rotterdam have decided not to open new “dark store” hubs in the future, Groningen is still in debate on the ban. They are, however, aware of the disruption these delivery services bring. “‘Groningen intends to protect the ‘core shopping area’ and prevent the ‘commercial storage’ of delivery vans and bicycles,”‘ says the NL Times.  

Instagram of people trying to stop dark stores in residential neighborhoods.

Additionally, according to a NRC survey, 9 cities out of 23 responded to questions, claiming to receive regular complaints about delivery services. Both residents and store owners feel their dark tinted windows ruin the look of the streets and that the excess of bikes also causes relevant traffic concerns.

Groningen political parties have also shared their stance on the companies.

“If the municipality will draw and implement regulation, we are gonna support them” says Jurrie Huisman a SP politician and member of the Local Council. He explains that the situation is getting out of hand. He believes that if their party will win in April, they will continue to enforce specific rules, weighing down on the companies.

Rik van Niejenhuis, member of The labor party (PvdA), agrees. “The fast delivery hubs do not contribute to nice and safe streets or to an attractive city center.”

Flink in Groningen. Copyright: Guido Cocconi

However, not all parties are entirely on the same page. Jalt de Haan, party member of the Christian Democratic Appeal in Groningen, says that they “would like to relocate them [delivery services] to more strategic locations.” These strategic locations being, for example, industrial areas. “We see there is a need for these companies. That is why we as a municipality must facilitate this.”

“We do not want to over-regulate commerce in Groningen”, adds Steven Bosch, Council member and party leader of Student and Stad. The municipality is considering a hypothetical solution banning all commercial vehicles from parking on the sidewalk. He recognizes, however, that this would affect many other companies, also small ones, that park their bikes and scooters on the same streets. “We should take a look and think about how to regulate them”.

Gorillas and Flink store managers and public relations office could not answer our questions, but anonymous Flink workers provided their concerns to us.

According to the riders, it’s not just their bikes that make things worse. “People act like no one else is going fast on the bike lane, but you have mopeds and electrical bikes that can go up to 25km/h.”

“The shop is private property and anyone can do what they want within their own property” says an anonymous rider from Flink. “It doesn’t really matter if people cannot see inside the store, they’re not supposed to get inside anyway” reinforces another.

Gorillas in Groningen. Photo Copyright: Guido Cocconi

Headline photo copyright: Guido Cocconi

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