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Docks Bruxsel shopping centre ‘built illegally’, claims N-VA

14:36 27/03/2017

The Docks Bruxsel shopping centre, which opened in the capital’s canal area last October, was constructed in the absence of valid permits, an opposition member of the Brussels parliament has alleged. According to Cieltje Van Achter (N-VA), the government of the Brussels-Capital Region operated a “permits carousel” by issuing new permits the minute the Council of State appeared to be ready to nullify the old ones.

Citizen action group Bral filed a complaint with the Council of State with regards to the socio-economic permit for the shopping centre. The Council ruled in their favour in February 2015 on the grounds that mobility regulations were not adequately met. The Brussels government simply issued another permit.

Last December, the auditor of the Council of State again issued an opinion against the socio-economic permit and also for the environmental permit for the shopping centre - which by that point had already been built.

In both cases, the auditor said, the complex failed to meet the capital’s planning regulations. The opinion of the auditor is not binding on the Council of State but tends to be followed more often than not.

Brussels avoided the problem by withdrawing the previous permit, the subject of the complaint, and issuing another one. “To prevent the Council of State from once more confirming the illegality of the shopping complex, the Brussels government withdrew the permit on the day before oral arguments, only to deliver the same permit anew,” Van Achter said.

The same thing happened with the environmental permit in July 2015, she said, following an opinion from the auditor.

The final ruling from the Council of State has not yet been handed down.

Photo courtesy Docks Bruxsel

Written by Alan Hope