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Brussels grants more time to save its historic lifts

15:05 18/12/2023

Brussels is aiming to save its historic lifts by giving their owners more time to bring them to the required safety norms, Brussels secretary of state in charge of urban planning and heritage, Ans Persoons, has announced.

Under the 9 March 2003 royal decree relating to lift safety, lifts that came into service before 1958 needed to be modernised by December 2022 at the latest. Many lifts with open 'accordion' doors, typical of the early 20th century, came into this category.

Now, Belgium’s federal economy minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne and Brussels secretary of state Pascal Smet have said that owners of these special pieces of architectural heritage will have until December 2027 to bring their lifts to today’s standards.

“This delay was absolutely necessary to enable enough time to find alternative solutions which reconcile strict safety rules with the need to preserve heritage value,” Dermagne said.

"Without this, our historic elevators would be doomed to disappear or have to be completely converted. Thanks to the new directives, we will preserve this beautiful heritage for future generations."

The Brussels region has already granted almost 400 certificates to historic elevators. The criteria required to receive these documents are authenticity, rareness, the value the lifts bring to the building and the lift’s representativeness of a type or brand of lift.

Owners of these lifts will be offered modernisation solutions as well as four more years to ensure that their elevators comply with the amended 2003 decree.

The special site dedicated to lifts with heritage value in Brussels, compiled by regional development and heritage association, Brussels housing advice centre Homegrade and the non-profit association Save Our Elevators, notes more than 800 addresses in the capital.

The map shows some 331 buildings, including schools and museums such as the Musical Instruments Museum, which contain one or more lifts granted a certificate of historical value or classified.

Written by Liz Newmark