Last week the Brussels Region filed a complaint with the Council of State against the Flemish government's strategic plan for the area around Brussels, which includes Uplace and the widening of the Ring. According to Brussels minister-president Charles Picqué, decisions taken by Flanders have an impact on Brussels in terms of environment and mobility, yet none of Brussels Region's observations have been taken into account by the Flemish government. The plan is also in conflict with the Brussels Region’s own strategic plan, which aims to reduce traffic.
Picqué joins a number of local authorities in Flanders, as well as Unizo, the organisation that represents small businesses, in protesting against Uplace. However, he was met with a protest of his own, when Brigitte Grouwels, minister for among other things public works and transport in his government, issued a statement saying the decision to go to the Council of State was “not a government decision”.
Picqué had acted on his own initiative, Grouwels said, as the case had never been discussed within the government. “This is a matter which affects the relations between the regions,” Grouwels said. “It concerns a number of aspects for which I am responsible as minister for mobility, and over which I have discussions with the Flemish region. Instead of attacking each other legally, the Flemish and the Brussels regions need to get around the table and start talking.”
Later, Uplace, the subject of so many complaints, filed a complaint of its own, against Neo, the shopping and conference centre planned by the city of Brussels on the Heizel site (pictured). Uplace claims the city breached its own rules in its call for contractors, in order to get it started sooner. Brussels started the bid procedure before the area had been rezoned to accommodate Neo, and before applications for permits had been lodged, Uplace claims. A complaint to the EU Commission is being prepared, Uplace said.
• Elsewhere, a 28,000-square-metre shopping centre planned for the former mine sites in Beringen in Limburg province was rejected by a decision of federal and Flemish ministers, citing problems with mobility, a clash with the development of the town centre and incompatibility with the Flemish government’s own policy document on the retail sector.
Contractors be-MINE said they would go ahead with those parts of the complex not related to shopping, and would consider an appeal against the refused permit to the Council of State.