The region has no latitude for postponing the planning issues for the Bourse building
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The region has no latitude for postponing the planning issues for the Bourse building

© Belga
Brussels's old stock exchange is turning into a “beer temple”.
© Belga

The Brussels region will comply with the rules, but will not allow for any further forms of postponement of the planning procedure. This building previously sheltered the Brussels Stock Exchange in the centre of the capital. The announcement on proceeding with planning issues was indicated on Thursday by the entourage of the Minister-President, Rudi Vervoort. He is responsible for Urbanisation and Heritage.

The Consultation Committee for Brussels City Council has given a positive opinion, accompanied by conditions, upon the request for altering this listed building into a public gallery on the ground floor, and the Belgium Beer Experience Centre on the building’s upper level. Some arguments from associations, which are hestitant about the project lodged by Brussels City Council, have been listened to by the committee, in particular relating to the heritage aspect. 

It is thus requested by the Council, which has initiated the request as a form of public management, to open the Great Nave area to diverse cultural activities, and to constitute a scientific committee made up of experts from diverse backgrounds “with a view to developing a coherent vision for future activities other than those strictly linked to beer.”

There are other requests concerning the part dedicated to the Belgium Beer Experience Centre. These are to reduce the window volume of the “Skybar” and placing it further back in relation to the Grand Place, and simplifying the overall appearance of the roof area work. The interventions envisaged at the level of the base of the building (at the corner of the building, and at the entrances to the lateral facades) must be improved by balancing the elements of “accessibility” to the building and “the dialogue with Belgium’s heritage”.

The Consultation Commission is moreover requesting that Brussels City Council anticipates establishing a management contract with future occupants of the premises guaranteeing a cultural function over the long term, in the Great Nave. The Council will also provide for the structuring of all event-driven activity in such a way as to limit noise nuisance.

The Brussels region must make a decision upon the planning application. It is perfectly reasonable for it to request, as it will in all likelihood, project modifications, taking account of this opinion and that of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites. Without prejudging the consequences at procedural level, the decision “is in no way imminent.” The suggestion from the Office of the Minister President, Rudi Vervoort, is, “However, the region will not proceed, for that all, by postponing the planning procedure, faced as it is with the issues of this Brussels project.”

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times