The car-infested banks of the Leie river will be transformed into an amazing public space , Source: City of Kortrijk

Parks are taking over parking in Kortrijk

Parks are taking over parking in Kortrijk

100 trees will take the place of 100 parking spaces in this Belgian town

Authorities in Kortrijk announced their plan to green the downtown area, around the River Leie with an investment of 9.5 million euros. The plan focuses on 900 metres of banks right next to the city centre. According to Wout Maddens, Alderman of Urban Renewal Projects, this is one of the most ambitious projects the city has taken on, as reported by the VRT, a Flemish news platform.

Leiedoortocht is one of the only parking spaces left in the city centre, yet the city seems to see more value in green spaces. Furthermore, the project is a continuation of a 2018 initiative, that focused on creating riverside leisure spaces further down the river.

City officials claim that it will be a major step in dethroning the car, which is currently the king of the road in the historic centre of the Belgian town.

Taking the streets from King Car

Local authorities in Kortrijk have been slowly working on retaking the streets from car traffic in the past 25 years and this includes the transformation of the Leiedoortocht from a car park into a green space.

The first phase of riverside beautification happened in 2018 on the lower side of the river, between the Broeltorens and the Leiebrug. It featured an investment of 4 million euros to revitalise approximately 300 metres of quay walls.   

Now, authorities are offering a more ambitious vision for the upper Leie banks, with an area of 900 metres and an investment of 9.5 million euros. Development is set to start in mid-2023 and is set to finish in mid-2024.

The key features of the project focus on meeting places, green spaces and a workable concept for using the water. Pedestrians will be at the heart of the new 1,000-square-metre public park, as planners envision multi-level terraces and stairs, leading to the water.

At the same time, the final project will have a pontoon quay with a small dock for canoes and boats up to 15 metres in length.

Axel Weydts, Alderman for Public Works, explained that about 100 parking spaces around the river would disappear. In their place, local authorities plan to put trees, which will create a long and picturesque pedestrian boulevard - a move that almost feels like a statement for sustainable urban spaces.



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