€10m funding to breathe new life into popular sites


The money will be spent on restoring some of Flanders’ heritage gems, including the ravaged pier at Blankenberge


Blankenberge’s Art Deco pier is among the jewels in Flanders’ heritage crown that are to be restored thanks to a €10 million investment. “Some of our heritage gems need a little polishing,” said acting heritage minister Ben Weyts. “Take Blankenberge pier: a real eye-catcher that’s now in a bad way.”

The pier (pictured) dates back to 1894 and is the oldest on Europe’s Atlantic coast. “It’s part of our collective consciousness,” said Weyts, who took over the heritage portfolio from Geert Bourgeois in July. “Everyone in Flanders knows the pier: Most of us have walked along it. It dominates the coastline, but no longer makes the best impression. Based on the original plans, we’re going to rebuild it in white concrete, which will also better protect it against the ravages of time.”  

As well as the pier, which receives just over €6 million of the total €10.25 million funding, Weyts is investing in a range of other sites across the region. They include the Kasteelhoeve de Laiterie in Dilbeek, Flemish Brabant, the Blauwhuis castle domain in Izegem, West Flanders, the Herman Teirlinck House in Beersel, Flemish Brabant, and the Ante Mare apartment building in De Panne, back at the coast.

As part of longer-term agreements, the money will also be used to restore Wilrijk’s town hall and for the next stage of restoration of the Sint-Martinus church in Aalst.

‘Belongs to the community’

The Herman Teirlinck House is the former home of the poet, author and playwright who was one of the most influential figures in Dutch-language literature. It receives €130,000 to support its conversion to a residence for artists and writers.

Almost €250,000 has been allocated to the restoration of the Sint-Martinus church, which dates to 1479 and houses a baroque painting by Pieter-Paul Rubens. The money will pay for preliminary investigations to prepare the restoration of the interior of the transept.

“Valuable heritage belongs to the whole community,” Weyts said. “We must protect our heritage gems for the future and restore them where possible.”

Photo: Toerisme Blankenberge/Westtoer