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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Belgium / Land use - National Responses (Belgium)

Land use - National Responses (Belgium)

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Policies and measures in place or planned in Belgium to better manage land use
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Last updated
22 Dec 2010
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Published: 05 Nov 2010 Modified: 13 Apr 2011 Feed synced: 22 Dec 2010 original

Land use planning is a regional competence in Belgium which explains that most responses are taken at the regional level. 


Key message

Spatial planning is governed by a Spatial Policy Plan. The Spatial Policy Plan (1998-2007) has not been successful in reaching more spatial coherence and compact development in urban areas. A new Flemish Spatial Policy Plan covering the period 2020-2050 will focus on climate change, sustainable development and spatial changes.

The Flemish Region is the most fragmented and second-most sealed-off region in Europe due to the way in which and where development takes place. The total length of linear development is 6000 km long and sprawling subdivisions with detached houses with large gardens in rural areas and along urban perimeters continue to prevail. During the last decennia more than 2 600 hectares of open space were built up. Although the Spatial Policy Plan (1998-2007) contains guiding planning principles gearing towards more compact and concentrated development in urban areas and aims towards more spatial coherence, it has not yet lived up to the targets set (60 % growth in urban areas and 40 % growth in rural communities). Urban development principles guide new developments towards a more concentrated built-up environment. The new Flemish Spatial Policy Plan (2020-2050) will focus on climate change, sustainable development and spatial changes. Besides this, there is also a growing cooperation between the environmental, spatial and transport policy fields and their corresponding planning processes.

Key message

Spatial planning is governed by the Wallon Code on land use planning, urbanism, patrimony and energy, which has lead to 23 sectoral plans (plans de secteur (PDS)) defining zones which can be built on and zones to be used for agriculture, forests, or wildlife. Since 2005, any new zone to be urbanised must be compensated.

In the Walloon Region, 23 sectoral plans (plans de secteur (PDS)) aim to manage the pressure that urbanisation puts on the territory by defining zones which can be built on and zones to be used for agriculture, forests, or wildlife. The PDSs are governed by the Wallon Code on land use planning, urbanism, patrimony and energy (Code wallon de l’aménagement du territoire, de l’urbanisme, du patrimoine et de l’énergie - CWATUPE), who submitted numerous revisions since 1962, some of which dealt with changes to the definition and use of zones covered by the PDSs. Since 2005, any new zone to be urbanised in the Walloon Region must be compensated either by a modification in the PDSs going in the other direction, for a similar-sized area not to be urbanised (agricultural, forest, natural, etc.), or by alternative compensation defined by the Walloon Government. Furthermore, the implementation of urbanisation projects depends on an urban and environmental report, which must look at the impact that the projects may have. In addition, the Walloon Region supports (voluntary and non-binding) municipal plans for nature development (PCDN).

Key message

Spatial planning is governed by the 2001 regional plan on land use (Plan Région d’affectation du sol) which specifies the overall use of the different zones in the region. All buidings permits have to comply with it.

‘Le Plan Régional d'Affectation du Sol’ is the plan of reference for spatial planning within the Brussels-Capital region (urban region). It determines the overall use of the different zones in the region and all building permits have to comply with it. Though many ‘green spaces’ are protected by several measures, urbanisation continues – however, at a lower rate than during the 1980s – at the expense of green areas and non-built-up areas. The Brussels-Capital Region is indeed confronted with a considerable growth of his population (the Federal Planning Bureau foresees a growth of the population of about 170,000 inhabitants between 2007 and 2020).

This reduction of green spaces is mainly observed within the peripheral municipalities of the region where large non-built-up areas (fallow and residual agricultural land) are converted into residential and office zones. The Brussels coalition agreement 2009-2014 foresees several actions and goals concerning spatial planning and urbanisation, among others: continuation of the policies of renovation of existing buildings and of improvement of the quality of public spaces (including greening of zones), conversion of empty office spaces into residential spaces, actions against unoccupied housing, implementation of the concept of ‘sustainable districts’ for urbanisation projects on virgin lands, protection of areas with high biological value, adoption of a regional plan for nature development, etc.

The Brussels-Capital Region, with the financial support of FEFER, also carries out a program (Brussels Greenfields) which aims at cleansing the polluted sites around the canal in order to support the development of new economic activities. A regional plan aiming at reducing the floods (plan regional de lutte contre les inondations 2008-2011) has also been adopted by the government. It's based among others on the restoration of the hydrographic network and on measures aiming at reducing impacts of urbanization on soil sealing.

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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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