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Court overturns ban on Coca-Cola sign at De Brouckère

21:21 06/12/2022

A Belgian court has overturned an order calling for the removal of the massive Coca-Cola sign located at Place de Brouckère in central Brussels.

The iconic illuminated sign has been switched off for over a year now, RTBF reports, after the Brussels government refused the renewal of its licence.

Brussels state secretary for town planning Pascal Smet ( called the huge advertisement disproportionately large and pointed out its excessive electricity consumption.

An expert group echoed the opinion and called for the rejection of Coca-Cola’s request to renew the permit.

Coca-Cola appealed against the decision. They lost that appeal, but the Council of State intervened to suspend the rejected permit on the grounds that the Brussels region did not give sufficient reasons for its decision.

The Coca-Cola illuminated advertisement has loomed on the roof of the Hotel Continental on Place de Brouckère since 1957. Its last permit renewal in 2013 gave it another six years, putting it up for reconsideration in 2019.

The sign is somewhat controversial. Critics say its massive size and modern design detracts from the historical surroundings, and that its energy consumption is unjustified considering it is an advertisement.

The region based its decision on a new zoning plan for the neighbourhood around Place de Brouckère that includes stricter rules on advertising, but this plan has only been in force since March of last year. At the time of Coca-Cola's licence application, other rules still applied.

State secretary Smet told RTBF that he was surprised by the ruling. “We will analyse this and await further proceedings, with a view to a possible annulment of our decision,” Smet said.

“A suspension of our rejection does not yet mean planning permission. In fact, nothing changes: the advertising remains extinguished.”

Written by Helen Lyons