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Street garden back, despite Schaerbeek’s best efforts to get rid of it

18:38 09/07/2020

The street garden that a couple in Schaerbeek was forced to remove from in front of their home has re-appeared, with the permission of authorities. Kinda sorta.

Last month, the municipality scooped up the garden, its flowers and greenery contained in a raised garden box, and put it away in municipal storage. It was in breach of the building code, said Schaerbeek authorities.

The couple – and the neighbours – of the fully residential Rue Godefroid Devreese were rather dismayed, considering that the garden box was in front of the couple’s garage and therefore did not take up a parking space. (The couple has no car.)

But rules are rules, right? Wrong, said the Brussels-Capital Region, which selected the garden as one of the projects that make up Bruxelles en vacances. The initiative by Brussels Mobility sees interventions by Brussels residents approved by the region to make summer at home that much nicer. There is now a neighbourhood collective, Citizen Garden, to realise the project.

Couple fined

The approvals come with subsidies to make the project reality, and the Schaerbeek collective got €5,000 to raise the garden further off the ground to build bicycle parking underneath it. In your face, Schaerbeek council!

The couple has since reclaimed their garden box from storage and put it back in front of their garage. But it is still in danger because the municipality has not officially approved the permit to let it stay.

“The region is supporting this project, but the municipality is hiding behind administrative procedures,” Matthieu Henkens, spokesperson for the collective, told Bruzz. “It is unclear when the decision will be taken and by whom.”

The couple has already received two administrative fines for the garden and are fighting both of them. “So far the municipality has refused to rescind them,” said Henkens. “They do not seem to be able to determine whether the regularisation falls under the responsibility of the mobility or green space services.”

But the power of community gardens knows no bounds. People have already donated €700 to pay and/or fight the fines, depending on what the couple ultimately wants to do. Donations can be made at the Citizen Garden website.

Photo ©Citizen Garden/Twitter

Written by Lisa Bradshaw