Good Living Plan Revisions Required By Majority Parties

The new Regional Urban Planning Regulation proposed by State Secretary Pascal Smet (One.Brussels-Vooruit) in the Brussels parliament was met with a cool reception from the majority parties PS, Ecolo and Défi. “This is a vision text, not a regulation.”
After the criticism from civil society, there was also a lot of criticism in the Brussels parliament about Good Living, the new project of State Secretary Pascal Smet. In the future, it must lay down the rules for buildings and public space.
Member of Parliament Geoffroy Coomans de Brachène (MR, opposition) brought forward a text from the umbrella association of architects that says that Good Living is practically impossible to implement and will cause a lot of legal uncertainty. He wholeheartedly agreed. “This is the realm of arbitrariness.”
He also referred to the period of alderman and mayor of the city of Brussels Michel Demaret when urban development projects were approved or rejected, depending on the envelope he received. “Without saying that this will really happen, the aldermen of Urban Planning will be accused by the people even more than before, precisely because the rules in the new GSV are not clear,” he said.
The new rules for the quality of life of homes will also entail a serious increase in construction costs. Coomans de Brachène: “A promoter has calculated that he can build 55 apartments in a certain place with the current rules. He will be able to build those too, but with the GSV presented here he will only be able to build 40. Then it is no longer profitable for him.”
The MR is also critical of the obligation to renovate (instead of demolition). “Some buildings are real energy sieves. You better break it down.”
The majority party PS is also very critical. “This project lacks objectivity, lacks clarity. However, the predictability for the applicant of an urban development project is very important.” Or: “There will be as many interpretations as there are municipal councils,” said MP Fadila Laanan (PS).
Parking Spaces Are Disappearing

She also said she was perplexed by how the text blames car users yet again. A lot of parking spaces will disappear in the future, including oblique parking, which will no longer be allowed by the GSV, “but we don’t know how those lost parking spaces will be compensated.”
She also wondered why advertising panels on houses should be removed, as provided for in the new text. “For some people, that can be an added bonus in these difficult financial times,” said Laanan.
At PTB they also believe that the rules of the new GSV should be clear and unambiguous, and that there should be no legal vagueness about a construction project. “Otherwise, whoever has the money and the power will have an advantage by being able to put a battery of lawyers on it,” said Françoise De Smedt (PTB).
Majority party Ecolo pointed to the points where this GSV draft makes progress, such as stormwater management, the quality of public space and circularity, but also expressed concern about the legal vagueness of the text. “You say that the criteria are clear, but we still have our doubts,” said MP Tristan Roberti (Ecolo).
Finally, the majority party Défi was also very critical of the draft. “There is a real problem with the legal basis. We need to work on this,” said Marie Nagy (Défi) who referred to the Brussels Urban Planning Code, which stipulates that the GSV must be a text with clear rules, and not a strategic text.
She also accepted the criticism from civil society that the criteria for the building density and the height of buildings are so unclear that this can lead to real estate speculation. “That is very problematic.” According to her, apart from that, real estate prices will rise by 10 to 15 percent if this GSV is introduced.
Legally Unenforceable

At Les Engagés (opposition), Céline Fremault summarized the entire criticism as follows. “The strength of the text is the vision and the objectives. And we need to implement a reform of the GSV. Everyone agrees on that. But the weakness is the legal impracticability.”
It is not entirely clear how to proceed now. State Secretary Pascal Smet has already answered in parliament that he is prepared to make adjustments and clarify the text where necessary. The Regional Development Commission will collect and process the various comments following the public inquiry in the coming weeks. The Brussels government will then have to look at the text again, but there is little time anyway, because the text still has to be submitted to the Council of State and Pascal Smet wants the text to come into force before the end of the legislature.
Next week, Pascal Smet will provide further explanation and answers to the many questions from the members of parliament in the Brussels parliament.
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