The Metropole hotel in the centre of Brussels revealed on Thursday morning that, if nothing new occurs in coming days, it intends to serve to Brussels authorities the June lower court sentence with regards the pedestrian zone. After the sentence is served, the authorities are under legal obligation to restore direct vehicle access for the hotel’s clients, or to pay a single fine of 500,000 euros.
“Previously we had 3 direct access points to the hotel. Now that the neighbourhood is pedestrianised we have none,” explains Gwenaël Odongui-Bonnard, manager of the Metropole. He adds that the hotel is losing clients over the lack of access. “It’s a question of a stretch of road a mere 50 metres long,” he says, as the hotel is only just inside the pedestrian zone.
Although the hotel “had a ruling in its favour in June,” at the lower court in Brussels, it has always “preferred negotiation” with the authorities, points out the manager. “We had several meetings with the Mayeur cabinet, the alderwoman in charge of mobility and even the alderman himself on a couple of occasions… But in 3 months, nothing has changed,” explains Gwenaël Odongui-Bonnard. “We are still hopeful that the City will come to its senses and listen to us,” he adds, which would keep the judicial weapon at bay.
According to Mr. Odongui-Bonnard, they aren’t calling for the project to be “completely canceled”. “What matters is having the necessary access for the running of a 5-star hotel,” he says, insisting at the same time on the socio-economic value of his business: 200 employees and 2 million euros in annual investment in the facilities.