Old Renault site to become brand new neighbourhood

Summary

The former car manufacturing facility will be turned into a new district, with housing, a hospital and a school – but not overnight

Thorough clean-up needed

After more than two decades, the cities of Vilvoorde and Machelen, together with the province of Flemish Brabant, have reached an agreement on what to do with the old Renault manufacturing facility.

The Renault plant shut down 23 years ago, leaving 240 hectares of polluted ground. Part of it is in Machelen and part of it is in Vilvoorde.

Discussions have taken place over the years as to what should be done with the site, but no conclusion has ever been reached until now. The site will become a new neighbourhood, complete with residential areas, a new hospital, a park and a concert hall.

S’long concrete

“It will be an entirely new neighbourhood,” said Vilvoorde mayor Hans Bonte (SP.A). The area is “looking at a shortage when it comes to housing, economic resources and related facilities. We are looking at building a hospital, a school and a cultural centre, but also residential options and a park where people can relax.”

But first, he notes, “the foundation of the plant – all the concrete – must be removed”. The soil must also be cleaned of existing pollution left by the plant. “We need to see green coming up in healthy soil, and then we can further develop it.”

This will not happen overnight, with a period of at least 30 years needed before the neighbourhood becomes a reality.

Photo courtesy Provincie Vlaams-Brabant