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Objections raised over traffic plans for Heysel's Neo development

A view of the Heysel plain from the top of the Atomium (©commons.wikimedia.org/matthewblack)
08:15 16/02/2022

Several organisations have voiced their opposition to a third amendment to the Regional Zoning Plan for the Neo project on the Heysel plateau. They claim that the mobility plans put forward for the new district, which will include a 72,000 square-metre shopping centre, would create more problems than they would solve.

The Neo project involves the building of a new economic, tourist, leisure and housing area on the Heysel site. The objective is to make the district a new gateway to Brussels, which requires an amendment to the Regional Zoning Plan. The public consultation on the amendment of the plan will be launched shortly.

However, ahead of this consultation, civil society organisations such as Unizo, BBL, ACV and Bral, together with the neighbourhood committees Triangel and Laeken.Brussels vzw, have raised objections to the three mobility scenarios on the table. They say that there is no sustainable solution on offer that respects the living conditions of the inhabitants in surrounding areas.

The first scenario foresees the main access road to the Neo district being created between the Parking C area at Heysel and the Avenue Impératrice Charlotte. While a political deal between Flanders and Brussels for the creation of this road seems to be making progress, the groups in opposition say that it would increase traffic by more than 1,700 cars per hour through an area close to a residential area.

A second option is to divert light traffic from the A12 via the Atomium. That, according to the civil society organisations, would lead to 3,600 cars per hour passing by the monument. "This proposal borders on madness," the organisations said in their statement. "We assume that someone will quickly say that this scenario was 'just for a laugh'."

The third scenario envisages two secondary access routes via both the A12 and the Ring. This would potentially create traffic jams in the neighbourhoods around the Avenue Houba De Strooper.

"Today, the region makes every effort to meet the requirements of developers,” the statement continued. “It doesn't matter if it means running thousands of extra cars every hour past the Atomium and through Laeken Park, or, in the least mind-blowing scenario, in front of the exhibition halls. The project will lead, in any case, to more than 4,500 cars per hour passing through the district at peak times."

"In short, there is no elegant solution to this mobility puzzle,” the organisations concluded. “And all this to get in and out of a parking lot under a shopping complex of 72,000 square metres."

The organisations are asking for the amendment of the Regional Zoning Plan to be shelved and for a real debate to be opened about the redevelopment of the Heysel Plateau.

Written by Nick Amies