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The country’s largest market square (and a major heat island) to become a lot greener

With the current heatwave in full swing the local authority in the East Flemish city of Sint-Niklaas couldn't have picked a better time to unveil their plans for the city’s market square. Currently the square that is the largest market square in Belgium is completely paved and as such forms a so-called “heat-island” when temperatures soar as they have in recent days. But this should change in the future. 

Under the plans, more greenery will be brought to the 32,000m² market square and other measures will be taken to help counter the heat island effect on the square, explains Wout De Meester, the alderman for Sustainability (greens): "We will plant 200 trees, and make room for water. We will remove a lot of paved surface and choose for grass instead", he told VRT NWS. "All this should make the Grote Markt a nice place to be, also on hot days like this." 

The plans for the square have in part been determined by the results of a unique study that was carried out on the square by the University of Ghent. 

Existing measuring stations located on the square will be used to gauge the impact of the changes made, says researcher Steven Caluwaerts."There is ahrdly any shadow here for the moment. It will be very interesting to see what changes can be triggered. We will not only do this here in Sint-Niklaas, but also on other locations." 

Pictures below: the plans for the Grote Markt, and a drone view of the present situation (bottom).  

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