Council of State quashes Uplace permit

The Council of State has suspended planning permission for the proposed shopping and leisure complex Uplace. The site was to have been built on waste-ground in the Flemish Brabant municipality of Machelen, about 10km north of Brussels. An environment permit for the complex had been granted by the Flemish Environment Minister Joke Schauvliege in May. Ms Schauvliege’s decision to grant an environment permit to Uplace caused friction within the Flemish Government.

A number of organisations, including the small business federation Unizo, appealed to the Council of State.

Not only has the Council of State suspended the planning permission granted by Ms Schauvliege, but it is also critical of the lack of progress made in granting planning permission for a series of infrastructure projects that would help improve transport links around Machelen and the near-by town of Vilvoorde.

"The Flemish Government should not presume that the transport infrastructure work will be given planning permission and effectively completed at a later date”, the Council of State’s ruling reads.

Uplace on the backburner?

The Council of State's ruling that Uplace can only built once the Flemish Government can prove that planning permission has been granted for all the necessary transport infrastucture (for trams, buses and cars), means that it could take years before work can begin on the construction of the Uplace complex.

There has been considerable protest against the proposed shopping and leisure complex. Traders in the near-by town of Vilvoorde and even as far away as Leuven were worried that they would lose customers to Uplace.

Meanwhile, environmentalists believe that Uplace will attract more traffic to the Brussels orbital motorway, causing particulate matter levels in the area to soar.

Joke Schauvliege’s decision to grant an environment permit to Uplace caused friction within the Flemish Government. The socialist minister Ingrid Lieten described Ms Schauvliege’s decision as “unacceptable”.

The Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters (CD&V) had his work cut out getting his ministers to all sing from the same hymn sheet again.

What does the Council of State’s ruling say?

The Council of State’s ruling says that planning permission and other permits for the improved transport links that would be needed to make Uplace accessible need to be granted before the complex can be built.