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Meet Van Praet - Brussels’ new sustainable swamp neighbourhood

Meet Van Praet - Brussels’ new sustainable swamp neighbourhood

The city is developing the Van Praet in a way that all amenities are a 10-minute walk аway

After almost 7 months of planning and consultation, the Masterplan for the new sustainable neighbourhood in Brussels is here. Van Praet -the name of the area planned for redevelopment - is squeezed between a swampy floodplain and a large boulevard at the city’s entrance.

The Masterplan aims to use this as an advantage as the main street in the area - the Avenue des Croix de Guerre will function as a rain sink, dispersing the water into the surrounding areas.

The first phase of the plan should be completed around 2026 and the first tram line should cross Neder-Over-Heembeek in 2024 to end at the edge of the site.

The future Van Praet - between Neder-Over-Heembeek and the Avenue des Croix du Feu,
 Source: The City of Brussels

A theatre, a park and a school - all at a 10-minute walk

The plan was made public on 23 June 2021 and is the product of widespread cooperation between experts and neighbourhood authorities. Right now, the area between the Van Praet Bridge and the Avenue des Croix du Feu is best known for being a giant funnel where all the car traffic in and out of the city gathers.

However, the area of ​​no less than 27 hectares has enormous potential to strengthen the green and blue networks, reconnecting the Neder-Over-Heembeek district to the canal.

It will be possible to grow up in Van Praet, without having to change schools,
Source: The City of Brussels 

The area will have a park, a secondary school for 700 students, a sports hall and a theatre. This is all in line with a city plan to make basic amenities available to all citizens in a range of a 10-minute walk.

Faouzia Hariche, Alderman for Public Education claimed in a press release that it would be possible for a person to get to the age of 18 in Van Praet without having to leave to attend school elsewhere. 

The neighbourhood will have a flood park

The Masterplan calls for the protection of the swamps in the area so that a degree of the natural flora and biodiversity can be preserved and integrated into the city.

The avenue des Croix de Guerre, the main street of the future neighbourhood, is permanently redeveloped so it can collect and redistribute rainwater to the surrounding green areas before being it is drained out.

This helps relieve drainage and creates opportunities for water reuse. The planned new public park will thus be a flood park.

Ward Van Hemeledonck, project lead at Plusoffice, one of the consulting firms on the project elaborated on the water in the new area, saying:

“Historically there were swamps and floodplains between the canal and the old village of Neder-Over-Heembeek. Whether we like it or not, water is present in the neighbourhood and will continue to show up.

Instead of seeing it as a constraint, it is included in the project. Thus, the collection of rainwater will be the theme of this district. This will prepare Brussels for the climate challenges of tomorrow."

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