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Delhaize supermarket in Ghent church gets green light

The Delhaize supermarket group has at long last received definitive permission to open an outlet in the Saint Anna Church in Ghent, a listed building.  Delhaize unveiled its plans for a supermarket in the church over 4 years ago.  Opponents have now exhausted all opportunities to prevent the opening.  Delhaize will now be able to go in search of somebody to take on the franchise.

The church has been empty for several years now.  Four years ago the Ghent city authorities OK’d the supermarket chain’s plans to open a supermarket in the protected building.  The approved plans also include a wine bar and a restaurant.  The area around the church is being turned into a little park.

The plan to open a supermarket in the church met with severe criticism.  One opponent, a violinist, started a daily concert outside the church to protest the plans. He halted his concerts after he came to the conclusion that the people of Ghent were “meek lambs”.

However, the city authorities received countless objections from local people.  Despite this a provisional licence was awarded.  Opponents took the matter to the provincial authorities and even the council of state, Belgium’s highest administrative court.  Objections were rejected on both occasions.  The opponents then took the matter to the licence disputes council, but it ruled that the objections were unfounded.  All legal opportunities to contest the supermarket have now been exhausted.

An action group set up to contest the plans is disappointed.  A spokesman told VRT: “Today nobody is holding their breath to see a trendy Delhaize or a 4-star restaurant here!”

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