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For about 40 years, the government has been pursuing a green belt policy around Brussels.
 
Green belt
The green belt concept actually originated in the United Kingdom. The green belt policy has been officially applied to environmental planning around cities in the United Kingdom since 1955. In this kind of belt, strict building regulations are in force. The objective is to preserve the open space surrounding the cities and to counter urban flight. This way, cities have to convert and cannot merge into one another. London has been the pioneer (since as early as the 30’s), nowadays boasting almost half a million hectares of green belt. The idea was also adopted elsewhere in the world.
 
Picked Up In Plans In Belgium
In Belgium, a similar concept was first put forward by Groupe Alpha. In 1958, this Francophone research center drew up a regional plan for Brussels and the surrounding areas under the authority of the Ministry of Public Works, Urban and Spatial Planning. A green belt had to slow down suburbanization. The urbanization pressure had to be counterbalanced in Brussels itself and in the neighbouring cities. This is also what the title of the plan, Les centres satellites (The Satellite Centres) referred to. The research center ‘Mens en Ruimte’ (Man and Environment) adopted these ideas in 1964 when writing a structural plan for the then province of Brabant.
 
A line of Policy As Well
Thereupon, the Minister of Public Works, Jos De Saeger, decided to pursue a green belt policy around Brussels. To that end, he requested ‘Mens en Ruimte’ to draw up a draft of Regional Land Use Plan for the Halle-Vilvoorde district (1967).The final Regional Land Use Plan (1977) continued to follow the same line of policy. Officially, it is called gewestplan Halle-Vilvoorde-Asse (Regional Plan for Halle-Vilvoorde-Asse). The city of Asse was not accidentally included in this plan: the objective was to develop these 3 centres into strong Flemish satellite centres of Brussels. At a greater distance, the cities of Leuven, Mechelen, Aalst, Dendermonde and Nijvel would also be developed into satellite centres. Other principles were: no more entroaching on open space and no more building permits for apartment blocks. Several allotments and expansions of residential areas in the municipalities surrounding Brussels were cancelled. Primarily in the immediate surroundings of Brussels, countless parcels were marked as green area and area of outstanding natural beauty. From now on, the number of storeys was limited to 2. Several other countries have implemented similar restraints, but around Brussels, the Flemish politicians had an additional motive: they wanted to hold back the frenchification. To that end, they also created a cultural line of defence, the Gordel van Smaragd (the Emerald Belt), a circle of cultural centres, the first being CC Westrand. However, the Belgian green belt policy has, in contrast to the United Kingdom, never been explicitly declared an official policy, though it has repeatedly been confirmed in ministerial circulars. The Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Vlanderen (Spatial Structural Plan for Flanders) (1999) also refers to the green belt. Recently, the concept has also been introduced into the tourist sector.

More information

  • Case studies in Greenstructure Planning (Sheffield, Marseille, Breda, Munchen, Milaan, Warschau, Rome, Oslo, Ceske Budejovice), Europese Commissie, COST Action C11 (European Cooperation in the feeld of Scientific and Technical Research)
Our database contains many more documents. Most of them are only available in Dutch. However, you can enter English search terms. 


Version française (pdf, 61kb)
English version (pdf, 60 kb)
Deutsche Version (pdf, 68 kb)