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Châtelain market traders unhappy with move to Flagey

15:24 03/12/2023

Relocating Ixelles’ iconic Châtelain market down the hill to Place Flagey, with no chance of return for at least a year, has been nothing short of a disaster, according to several market stall-holders.

Not only do market traders note “a different dynamic” at Flagey, with people from the upmarket Châtelain quarter not wanting to shop at Flagey, but, more importantly, their sales figures have slumped by at least half. The situation has been exacerbated by the depressing weather.

“I do not understand why they let us move in winter,” said Carine, who has sold vegetarian and vegan burgers at Châtelain for 15 years.

“In summer I can compensate for the loss of revenue by going to events. Today I am making perhaps 10% of the money I was bringing in at Châtelain.”

The Place du Châtelain is undergoing an extensive renovation process. Today, it is hard even to cross it – given the myriad blue and yellow metal barriers, road blocks and large piles of earth.

The commune said the works were essential because of urgent repairs needed to the drains.

“We took the opportunity to redevelop the square and make it greener, in light of the climate crisis,” said Audrey Lhoest, Ixelles alderwoman for commerce.

But unfortunately there is no money available from Ixelles commune to compensate Châtelain’s market traders during the works. "We do not have the funds for that," Lhoest said.

Other moving options – to the streets around the Châtelain or to Avenue Louise – may have been more popular with traders, but they were ruled out respectively on the grounds of not enough space or uncertainty over when work would end on the Bailli tunnel.

To make matters worse, on 10 January, the market has to up sticks again and settle along the Avenue General de Gaulle around Ixelles ponds, when Place Flagey also undergoes a "vegetalisation" process to make the square greener.

“Why couldn’t we stay on Place Flagey during the works?” asked Olivier, who sells Thai food.

Lhoest said she had asked the region the same question, to be told that renovation works and market activities were not compatible.

Meanwhile, businesses around Place du Châtelain are upset that the market has gone, as it brought clients to their shops too.

Lhoest continues to hope that when the weather improves, market sales might as well. And she repeated also that the decision to move to Place Flagey had been made in consultation with the market traders.

Written by Liz Newmark