Municipality of Molenbeek accused of 'faking opposition' to housing project

Municipality of Molenbeek accused of 'faking opposition' to housing project
Credit: Vero Visuals.

Opposition members of the left-wing party PTB are accusing Molenbeek's governing majority of lying about their opposition to a housing project on the commune's canal.

The Dockside Tower project, which would see a housing tower erected alongside Brussels' canal in Molenbeek, has faced strong criticism. The primary objection levelled at the proposal is that it would gentrify the area and that the site could have been used to develop a new park instead of expensive houses.

While the Molenbeek ruling majority, comprised of the municipality's socialist and liberal parties, have expressed resistance to the initiative, the left-wing party PTB and Inter-Environment Brussels are having hard time believing them.

A difference of opinions?

A public inquiry was undertaken among the commune's inhabitants, which would serve as the foundation for a consultation committee that would provide their opinion on the project: favourable, conditional, or unfavourable.

The committee is made up of three representatives from the municipality, two from the regional agency, and one from Brussels-Environment.

While the municipality's delegates remained opposed to the proposal, because the regional representatives voted in favour of it, the municipality argued that their opposition was a minority inside the committee.

However, the IEB's Mohamed Benzaouia told La DH that "had the municipality wished to prohibit the (building) permit, it would have blocked the committee's decision."

Amet Gjanaj, Molenbeek's Socialist committee representative, said that the term "minority" was an error and will be amended shortly.

Legal legwork

Furthermore, PTB's local leader, Dirk De Block called upon a local law to further incriminate the municipal majority.

According to the law, "in the absence of an opinion from the consultation commission within forty-five days, the investigation of the application must continue without taking into consideration the opinion delivered beyond this time."

De Block also told La DH that he asked the municipality about the conclusion of the consultation committee meeting two days after the legal time had expired.

According to him, the final opinion had not been published and was not accessible for consultation, therefore nullifying the committee's opinion.

Amet Gjanaj, on the other hand, maintains that everything was completed on time and has promised that the municipality would halt the procedure as soon as the Region granted the building permit.

The PTB will also file a proposal to the Council of State in this regard, in collaboration with civil society groups.

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