The Council of State again annuls the permit for Drohme recreation park

Sarhan Basem

Brussels, (Brussels Morning) – The Council of State has again annulled the planning permit for Drohme, the recreation park on the Hippodrome of Bosvoorde. Once again, it is the associated car park, which is marked as forest on the Regional Zoning Plan (GBP), which leads to the annulment according to BRUZZ.

The planning permission for the planned recreation park on the former Hippodrome of Bosvoorde has again been annulled by the Council of State. That writes La Libre and is confirmed by the CEO of Drohme. The Council of State does not consider the planned parking to be compatible with the Regional Zoning Plan (GBP), which determines the function of a particular plot.

Saga of a racecourse

The story of the development of the recreation park on the Hippodrome of Bosvoorde has been going on for some time. In 2014, Drohme was awarded a fifteen-year concession to convert the site of the old Bosvoorde racecourse into a leisure park for families. However, it had to obtain the necessary permits to do so. But the project was met with protest from local residents and nature associations.

On December 6, 2018, Drohme received a planning permit. It was suspended by the Council of State because of the associated parking. After all, it is located in a forest area and is not compatible with the Regional Zoning Plan (GBP). A new planning permission was again annulled by the Council of State on October 4, 2019.

But on October 18, 2019, Drohme was re-licensed. “We have limited the perimeter of the parking lot and there are now fewer parking spaces,” Drohme said at the time. Of the more than four hundred parking spaces, about three hundred would remain.

However, on April 8, 2022, the permit was again annulled by the Council of State. It ruled that, despite the reduction in capacity, the parking spaces are in conflict with the Natura 2000 environment.

No project without parking

For David Reculez, CEO of nv Drohme Exploitation, it is a heavy blow. “We are very disappointed with this decision,” he tells our editors. “The permit was again annulled for the same reason. And that while the parking lot has been there for years (decades, ed.). But without parking the project cannot exist. It is a very large site.”

However, the CEO is not going to give up. “This is a project for Brussels residents and families. It should really become a gateway to the Sonian Forest. We are very sad about this decision, but we don’t see any elements to give up for the time being.”

The CEO is not alone. The Brussels government recently announced that it wanted to amend the regional zoning plan to legalise car parking on the edge of the Sonian Forest. In this context, a public inquiry was launched at the end of March and will last until May 27. The main aim is to legalise the existing parking for cars on the edge of the site and the Sonian Forest. A zoning change should also solve the licensing problems for Drohme.

“If the zoning plan can be changed, we will have to submit a new permit application,” says Reculez. 

Protest

In the past, the plans for the new recreation park led to protests from local residents . “We are glad that the permit was destroyed,” say Thomas Baudewijn and Dariya Bezugla, who until recently lived opposite the entrance to the Hippodrome. They believe that the project mainly conceals a program with many events, rather than a public space that is available to everyone free of charge. “But we still have questions about how things are going.”

“Why is the government administration actively intervening here by wanting to change the zoning plan?” the local residents wonder. “How is it that Drohme was repeatedly given a permit, which is then eventually destroyed?” The local residents also indicate that they can also contest the possible decision of the government to adjust the zoning plan. “But we hope the government uses its common sense.”

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.