Record spending on urban projects in cities and towns across Flanders


City councils are planning a record level of investments in projects like roadworks and parks in the coming legislative period

Economic boost

Flanders’ municipal governments are investing €2 billion more in infrastructure projects during this legislature than the last one, for a record amount of spending during a single legislative period. Municipal legislatures govern for a six-year period, and the last one started in January 2019.

Local councils and welfare offices (OCMW) had to provide the government of Flanders with a spending plan for the 2019-2024 period. Figures show a one-fifth increase in investment in urban renewal projects on the previous period for a total of €13.5 billion in investments.

“Flanders’ local governments are responsible for a full half of all public investments,” said Bart Somers (Open VLD), Flemish minister of interior affairs. “Such strong growth in their investment plan is a real boost for our economy.”

Trickle-down economics

Investments are being made in various infrastructure projects, including roadworks, new parks, water management, cycle paths and sport facilities. The increase in funding for urban projects is partially due to the Flemish government’s additional subsidies made available to city and town councils. These were in addition to an indexation that meant an extra 3.5% in subsidies to the Gemeentefonds, or City Council Fund.

“During this legislature, we are talking about an additional €1.9 billion,” said Somers, “nearly the same as the increase in local investments. So the efforts that the government of Flanders is making for the city councils is paying off. Every euro that we put into local governments is being invested to improve the lives of citizens.”

Photo: Bart Somers (centre) at the opening of the renewed archbishop’s garden in Mechelen last year
©Tijs Vanderstappen/BELGA