Residents call for a moratorium on the construction of new offices in Brussels’ European District

Several residents’ association from the area of Brussels around the European institutions have written to the regional Secretary of State responsible for planning Pascal Smet (Flemish socialist) asking for a moratorium on the construction of new offices in Brussels' European District. They also call for a sustainable development plan for the area, the Brussels regional news platform Bruzz reports.  The residents’ associations say that “As a result of the corona crisis a growing number of offices are empty”.

The letter to the Secretary of State is a joint effort by the Jourdan, Leopoldswijk and North East residents’ associations and the not-for-profit pressure groups Arau, Bral IEB.

They have joined forces to set up Coordination Brussels Europa to put a stop what they see as the developers’ “construction mania” in the European District. One of the catalysts for the protest were the plans for high-rise office blocks on the Wetstraat.

Local residents say that the plans for yet more offices don’t tie up with what will be the reality post-corona. “Since the start of the crisis companies have be closing their offices in Brussels. Projects that were drawn up before the pandemic no longer conform to current ways of working, now that telework is becoming more popular”, the residents' associations write in their letter to the Secretary of State.

Coordination Brussels Europa believes that the way we work will never be the same as it was prior to the pandemic. "A return to the way of working prior to the corona pandemic would appear to be out of the question. The masterplan for the development of the Wetstraat is completely obsolete”, the group writes.

It is asking Secretary of State Smet to come up with a plan that is more sustainable and future-proof. “Buildings are far too quickly considered to be dated. The policy of knock down and rebuild has an adverse effect on the environment”.

The group believes that the longevity of office construction projects should be taken into consideration before building permits are issued. 

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