Belga

"We're not going to build a wall”

The municipal fathers of Beersel hope to counter the influx of newcomers from Brussels.  The municipality in Flemish Brabant, outside Brussels, is feeling the pressure.  More and more people are quitting the capital and are heading for the Vlaamse Rand, the string of Flemish municipalities around Brussels including Dilbeek where there are similar sentiments.

Today Beersel boasts 25,000 inhabitants.  Burgomaster Hugo Vandaele (Christian democrat) believes Beersel has taken in its fair share of newcomers: "We've exceeded 25,000 I think that is enough.  We wish to retain the rural character of Beersel."

In order to maintain the green and rural character, the mayor hopes to ban high-rise developments.

"We are going to make every effort to counter high rise.  There aren't going to be any fourth, fifth or sixth stories in Beersel.  We will introduce a ban on high rise through planning.  It won't be easy.”

Mr Vandaele concedes that as a result of the ban house prices will rise due to demand.

A stop on new inhabitants is an idea gaining ground.  In January the Mayor of Dilbeek, Willy Segers (Flemish nationalist), launched a similar plan.

"We're not going to build a wall and won't be closing motorway exits.  We will halt new developments.  We will encourage new builds in the centre" he said.

With 42,000 inhabitants Dilbeek is the third most populous municipality in Flemish Brabant after Leuven and Vilvoorde.