Flemish authorities want to speed up expropriation procedures by setting an end-date for negotiations with landowners in order to fast-track “much needed” public works.
The new initiative by Flemish mobility and budget ministers would pile the pressure on property owners to agree on compensation over their land if it has been eyed by authorities for an infrastructure project
“Too often, much-needed investments in safety and cycling infrastructure are not realised because of lengthy procedures,” a joint statement by both ministers read, according to HLN.
Announcing the initiative, authorities cited the example of a cycling path along the national N446 road, east of Ghent, the construction of which was announced in 2003 but which is still in the works and expected to be completed by 202o.
The project required a total of 197 expropriations but the government continued to negotiate with 37 owners in 2016, year in which a cyclist died on that road, the outlet reports.
The move comes after the new Flemish government, sworn in at the end of September, unveiled a beefed-up budget for mobility projects, including plans to improve cycle paths in the region.
While the aim of the initiative would be to improve road infrastructure in Flanders, it highlights tensions that can arise when confronting individual interests with public ones, Nadine Van Wambeke of the Flemish government’s real estate transactions service, said.
“Sometimes a cycle path requires 150 expropriations, but if they don’t reach an agreement with one or two owners, the entire project comes to a halt.” Van Wambeke told Het Nieuwsblad, adding: “Everyone wants to be able to cycle safely to school with their children, but when the result is that someone can no longer park their car in the driveway, the resistance arises.”