Ghelamco hasn’t ditched stadium plans just yet

The property developer Ghelamco still believes that it will be able to build a football stadium on Car Park C of Brussels Expo despite the Flemish Minister for Planning and the Environment Joke Schauvliege (Flemish Christian democrat) having turned down its application for an environment and building permit.

Ghelamco says that it will –re-apply for a permit and remains convinced that the stadium will be built.

The combined environment and building permit is issued (or refused) on the basis of advice given by various official bodies. In the case of the Euro Stadium 8 of the 18 bodies advised the Minister against issuing a permit.

The biggest stumbling block traffic issues that could arise from the stadium’s construction at the proposed site. In an application for a permit is turned down, the authorities are obliged to tell the applicant why.

This will allow Ghelamco to take account of the objections when making a new application.

Ghelamco’s Philip Neyt told VRT News that "As far as we’re concerned it hasn’t stopped as a result of this decision.”

“We are first going to look thoroughly at the reasons for the refusal, but we will certainly be making a new application. Moreover we will take our time and of course consult with the stakeholders. There is no longer the pressure of Euro 2020.

It is difficult to gauge whether the biggest issue, that of dealing with the extra traffic the stadium’s construction would cause, will be completely addressed in any new application. Ghelamco’s traffic generation predictions are very different to those made by the authorities.

Mr Neyt said “These are points of discussion between traffic experts. There is a lot of debate about the use of traffic models not all the Flemish Government agencies are on the same wavelength. Of cause we want to find a sustainable solution and this is in our interest as an investor. We have always said that an agreement on mobility is very necessary for a project like this. A well-prepared 70-page document that has been discussed at length with civil servants has been on the table for more than a year”.

Ghelamco has every reason not to give up now. First of all there is the agreement in principle signed by the Anderlecht Chairman Roger Vanden Stock and the club’s General Secretary Philippe Collin for the use of the stadium.

The two signed detailed plans on which the stadium was described room by room. Even the furniture and the number of plug sockets were on the plans. A rent of 9.7 million euros/annum was agreed. This included energy and maintenance costs and the cost of furnishings in the stadium.

There was no time limit mentioned in the agreement. In other words it doesn’t matter when the stadium is build. According to the agreement. Anderlecht will play in the stadium if and when it is built. This what Mr Vanden Stock agreed to. However, he will be handing over reigns to a new Chairman Marc Coucke on 1 March. Mr Coucke won’t comment on matters relating to Anderlecht until then.

One is clear, the new boss at Anderlecht will be hoping and praying that the stadium is never built. Because if it is built and the club fails to honour the agreement signed by Mr Vanden Stock and Mr Collin, the club will face a damages claim running into many millions of euro.