Hundreds of supermarket sites are suitable for housing, says study

Summary

A new study shows that supermarket sites are relatively easy turned into housing projects if roofs and underground parking are utilised

165,000 more units needed

More than 330 sites that currently support large supermarkets and car parks are suitable for housing projects, according to a study by researchers from the University of Leuven and Ghent University, who examined 1,461 supermarkets sites in Flanders. According to the results, housing project could be developed on flat supermarket roofs and in parking lots if some parking was moved underground.

The study shows a potential of some 500 hectares suitable for housing. The researchers included supermarkets with a parking lot of minimum half a hectare.

It is estimated that there will be 165,000 more families in Flanders 10 years from now, who would require about 680 hectares of housing space. The researchers stated that the supermarket sites can in theory fulfil this need entirely, if the housing projects include four floors.

They even foresee half of the area used for green spaces, like parks and sports fields. There are already a few “supermarket living” projects in the region today. Supermarket chain Colruyt, for example, has combined its store in Wemmel with underground parking and apartments (pictured).

“Such projects can help to re-envision the giant shoebox structures with massive parking lots from the 1970s,” Olivier Carrette of real estate federation BVS told De Tijd. “These are totally unused during part of the week and at night.”

Carrette pointed out legislative changes would be necessary because it currently takes about five years before the construction of such housing projects can get started.

Photo courtesy Bouw & Wonen