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Ixelles turns down plans for giant ‘dark kitchen’

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The consultation committee for the municipality of Ixelles in Brussels has refused permission for the creation of a so-called ‘dark kitchen’ in a residential part of the commune.

The kitchen, named Cooklane, was to take up the 1,500 square metre space — about the size of three basketball courts — previously used as a garage, situated in the interior of the block of houses bordered by Rue Gray, Rue Wayenberg and Rue du Sceptre.

Dark kitchens – also known as ghost or cloud kitchens or virtual restaurants, are industrial-scale kitchens not attached to a restaurant, where food is prepared for takeaway and delivery companies like Uber Eats or Deliveroo.

The consultation committee is composed of representatives of the commune, the region’s urban planning department, the regional environment agency and the cultural heritage department.

The members heard how the commune has received 80 letters from residents objecting to the Cooklane plans and listing a variety of grievances. An online petition was signed by 500 people.

The project was incompatible with the residential character of the neighbourhood (although it had previously been a large garage). The plans also involved knocking down a side building, breaking up the residential nature of the Rue Gray.

The committee found that the kitchen would operate long hours, and involve a large increase in traffic flow. With only one entrance to be used by suppliers, staff and delivery couriers, the street would be almost constantly congested.

Above all, the plan was in conflict with the purpose of the area in general, which is housing. And as pointed out by Audrey Lhoest (Ecolo), councillor for economic development, the activities of Cooklane would be in direct competition with the traditional restaurants of the area.

The fears of the residents are justified,” wrote town planning councillor Yves Rouet, reporting the details of the committee meeting on his blog.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times