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New plans for European Quarter prioritise housing and green spaces

The previous plans for the EU Quarter in Brussels by French architect Christian de Portzamparc and his team. (BELGA PHOTO EU/CHRISTIAN PORTZAMPARC)
06:02 13/05/2022

The Brussels government and the city council of Brussels have presented their plans for the redevelopment of the European quarter, RTBF reports. They call for the district to be greener, more pedestrian-friendly and better integrated into the capital - no longer an island for only international officials.

With that in mind, earlier plans for new, high-rise tower buildings, which provoked fierce criticism, have been scrapped.

"The district will become much more mixed and greener,” says state secretary for urban planning Pascal Smet. “It must become more humane and integrated into Brussels. Now it is still a monofunctional civil servants' district. In the future, it must become a real district."

The district contains about 3.5 million m² of office space with a population of only 1,000 people. One of the spearheads of the new plans will therefore be the creation of more homes. "If we want to attract residents again, we have to make it a green, pleasant place," says Ans Persoons, alderman for urban planning in Brussels. "The city will invest in this and redevelop a number of streets. We also want to motivate project developers to redevelop existing buildings instead of tearing them down. Offices should also be converted into homes as much as possible."

Smet agrees with his colleague. "Every project that is submitted now will be assessed with this mix in mind and where we can, we will ask for new, preferably affordable, housing,” he says.  “It is also important that the ground floor of buildings is utilised. For example, there may be shops, restaurants or a gym, something to attract life." There will also be several projects for developing green spaces.

In the new plans, there is no longer any question of building new towers. This was fiercely criticised at the time and now the government has rejected those plans. Higher buildings can still be approved in exceptional circumstances, says Brussels prime minister Rudi Vervoort, provided that they are integrated into the whole area and have a certain aesthetic.

Written by Nick Amies