No more mobile phone antennas for Koekelberg basilica
A request from telecom operator Orange to put additional mobile phone antennas on top of the Koekelberg basilica has been rejected.
Urban.brussels, the regional administration for urban planning, said it had refused the request to install six new antennas on top of the basilica, RTBF reports.
There are already three antennas on top of the historic building, which Orange wanted to dismantle and replace with six newer ones that perform better but are also larger.
“The project for which Orange has submitted the request is part of the modernisation of its network,” the telecom operator said.
“The requested antenna configuration concerns an antenna that can be used for current network technologies (2G, 3G, 4G) and the smaller antenna will be used for 5G.”
The Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites (CRMS) has issued an unfavourable opinion. While the Koekelberg basilica is not listed, it is located on the protected grounds of Elisabeth Park.
CRMS said it was impossible to reuse the old antennas due to the larger dimensions of the new ones Orange proposed.
“The overhangs are not as wide and the available height is not sufficient,” the commission said.
“The project plans to place the new antennas, in pairs, on three of the four towers located at the corners of the dome. A polycarbonate cover, imitating the terracotta facing of the facades, would be made to camouflage the antennas."
But CRMS rejected the notion, refusing to authorise the addition of new devices of that type on the basilica.
Nevertheless, the commission said it was not entirely opposed to “the placement of a limited number of antennas of telephone operators on the basilica of Koekelberg as long as they are well integrated into the building and do not disturb its coherence and legibility or cause material damage.”
Belgium’s telecom companies rent part of the building, which helps finance the management of the church. But the request is only coming from Orange.
“Other operators, who also have antennas on the building, could be interested in requesting similar changes,” the commission said.
“The present request risks creating a precedent and leading to requests of the same kind and, consequently, to a multiplication of this type of device on the building, which would then no longer be acceptable because it would undermine the integrity of the building.”
Thierry Wauters, director of monuments and sites at Urban.brussels, said the refusal was based on the fact that “it is not possible to place a whole series of antennas from different operators. It is imperative that the operators co-ordinate in order to have a reasonable location on the building”.