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Planning permit for new RTBF headquarters suspended by Belgium's Council of State
The Council of State, the supreme administrative court of Belgium, has suspended the planning permit for the future headquarters of the RTBF, the Francophone public service broadcaster, in Brussels.
The suspension refers to the plans submitted by RTBF to partially demolish buildings at the broadcaster’s headquarters at the Reyers site in the municipality of Schaarbeek and construct a new, almost 40,000m² building provisionally named Media Square. The Media Square project forms part of a drive to completely overhaul a 20-hectare site on which the RTBF headquarters is located.
The court ruling highlights a “lack of care taken in reviewing the claim made during the public inquiry, with regard to the closure of the evacuation route of the nursing home located near the project.”
In their complaint, the representatives of the nursing home mention, among other things, that the construction of the new RTBF annex will render the escape route at the rear of their facility unusable. They ask that the plans be adapted in order to provide a service path or an evacuation path joining the existing emergency exit.
However, the Council of State admitted that, when drafting the impact study for the new RTBF building, the planners considered - in the words of the non-technical summary of the impact study - that a solution had been found which would "guarantee the use" of emergency access to the nursing home.
"The suspended permit, however, provides for the erection of a side wall of the new RTBF annex building which closes the so-called evacuation route, so that - at least at first glance - its use is made impossible," the Council stated, adding that “on the face of it, it does not appear that the opposing party examined the applicants' claim with adequate care.”