BRUSSELS (Brussels Morning) – The consultation committee of the City of Brussels has given positive advice for the expansion plans of the construction market Debrico in the old neighbourhood cinema Rio in Laeken. “But with what is now on the table, we fear the worst. In no way do we have the impression that the case wants to enhance the heritage character of the Rio,” says Aurore Burette of neighbour collective Rio.
The new scenario for the old neighbourhood cinema Rio in Maria-Christinastraat in Laeken is causing a stir. The current owner now mainly uses the partially listed building as a warehouse for his do-it-yourself store.
But he wants to expand and transform the cinema itself into ‘a multifunctional hall’. In the first place, it should become an extension of the showroom, but in the long term it could also form the backdrop for various events, theatre and yes: a cinema room.
Local residents would like to fully restore the Rio. There are only a handful of cinemas left in Brussels. “And so there is a market for it,” resident of the neighbourhood Yannick Schandené told BRUZZ earlier.
The consultation committee of the City of Brussels saw no reason to block the plans. Despite the 126 reactions during the public inquiry, the committee delivered a favourable opinion on the licence application, albeit with conditions. For example, the owner will have to provide more information about how exactly he will control access to his warehouse and showroom and he will be asked to “give priority to activities in his multipurpose room that cause little noise pollution.”
For the group of residents of the district, this is nothing more than a slap in the face. “We had hoped that the Rio would become much more accessible to the general public. After all, public funds are still being used for the works on the protected areas,” says Serge Malaisse (Laeken.brussels) in La Capitale.
He finds support in this with Aurore Burette of the collective Rio. “The committee has heard our arguments, but has absolutely not listened to them. As far as keeping the old cinema room intact, we see that nothing has been specified. The project is in no way intended to enhance the heritage character of this special building. We also fear that neighbourhood associations will only receive a small discount if they want to organise something in the multifunctional hall.”
Whether the Debrico company also gets the final green light for the renovation depends on the Brussels urban planning administration Urban.brussels, which issues the permits.