February 1, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Sint-Gillis opposes Zuidwijk's plans: 'Too many offices, too little green space'

Sint-Gillis opposes Zuidwijk’s plans: ‘Too many offices, too little green space’

Sint-Gillis issued an unfavorable Building Guidelines (RPA) recommendation for the area around the South Terminal. In particular, the lack of residential facilities and green spaces is a thorn in the side of the municipality. “The concept does not take into account contemporary developments in the neighborhood.”

The redevelopment of Zuidwijk has been on schedule since 2013. The goal was to better connect the business district with the city center and give it a more residential feel. In 2016, the then government completed the most important lines: there will be more towers and houses, but also more public spaces. RPA South was approved by the Brussels government earlier this year and is a continuation of the master plan from 2016. The master plan is a strategic urban plan and outlines how the neighborhood should develop.

Habitable station

According to these plans, Zuidwijk should be designed as a “friendly housing station”, and thus accessibility (indoors) to the Zuidstation should still be guaranteed. So Zuidwijk will receive a lot of new homes, in particular 189,000 square metres. In addition, there will be 44,000 square meters of space for all kinds of local amenities such as schools and nurseries. The new urban renewal contract “About the South”, which was approved at the beginning of this year, should already be the first step in this direction.

But the municipality of San Gil has a different reading. It appears that “the goal is to achieve an even distribution of homes and offices, but this master plan is clearly based on the current demand for office space.” “This will result in thickening and excessive building features.”

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The College of Local Council Members is also citing the impact of the Corona crisis, which means that remote work is here to stay and that less office space is needed in Brussels. This was not taken into account when setting up RPA.

many offices

According to Sint-Gillis, the advanced “50th section” for office and living space would not be achieved if all projects were undertaken at RPA. “Office space will account for 50 to 55 percent and housing 30 to 35 percent, as well as trade and catering (10 percent), equipment (5 percent) and production activities (5 percent).” The municipality then lists the series of housing projects. “But only two of these can be achieved in the medium term, on a total area of ​​76,000 square metres.”

St Gillies notes that the balance between office space and residential accommodation has been disrupted. “Because projects such as the offices of NMBS (80,000 square metres), Infrabel (38,000 square metres) and Victor (56,000 square metres) are under construction,” the municipality said.

It also notes that hardly any social housing is provided. Social housing is sorely needed, given the waiting lists in St Gillies and the precarious socio-economic profile of the southern region. That is why we are calling for a phase that prioritizes social housing.”

© Bart Dewelly

| Southern Station and Southern District.

The municipality also takes care of transportation. For example, there was to be a new bus stop on Constitution Square, but that would conflict with the presence of the Zuidmarkt. “Even other interventions, such as the bicycle shed on Europa Square or the redevelopment of Jamarlane, for example, should not lead to a loss of the Zuidmarkt.” The municipality also notes the danger of new trees appearing in the square. “It remains to be seen what the consequences will be for the regulation of the Zuidmarkt.”

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According to Sint-Gillis, the planned public space, especially recreational spaces, has gaps as well, because the southern area will become more dense and the spaces are too small for that. “They cannot accommodate all functions (public transport, active modes of transport, delivery …), and they cannot be reduced to functional channels. They also need to be more pleasant. Not everything can be combined near the South Station. And the streets cannot That fits there too.”

a little green

RPA South only provides potential additional public space in line with Hortaplein, as denounced by the Council of Municipalities. It appears that “it would be good to revitalize this square on the side of the South Station by creating additional shops opening onto the Hortaplein”.

As far as green spaces are concerned, the municipality admits that Zuidwijk already has very little green space. At RPA, only additional green spaces have been proposed on the banks of the Senne, south of the train station. “This is absolutely insufficient to meet the needs of the current and future population.”

Finally, Sint-Gillis also notes that there is a risk of disruption to the neighborhood due to several construction sites on top of the redesign of public space and public transportation. “This is in addition to the environmental impact of this plan,” the unfavorable opinion states, referring to its duration and carbon footprint. But demolishing buildings less than 25 years old is also an aberration. At a time when we need to get rid of the culture of exclusion, these processes are unjustified.”

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general investigation

The public inquiry into RPA South, which outlines guidelines and ambitions for developing the area around South Station, will continue through November 2. Previously, the municipalities of Forest and Anderlecht gave positive advice. City organizations such as IEB and Bral are unsympathetic to RPA South.