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Filip de Bois

Portfolio Director, Redevco Belgium

Building sustainably starts with sustainable land use. It is therefore about more than simply insulation, green energy and circular building. We need to try to use the limited space we have here in Flanders as well as we possibly can. We can achieve this with mixed sites, but for this to happen the authorities have to be on board with the idea.


Redevelopment of peripheral retail sites into mixed projects

De Bois: “You can build as sustainably as you like, if you do it in a location that was previously green belt, you are not doing a good thing. There are already more than enough detached retail buildings and too many of them are usually empty. After all, an increasing number of people – in addition to those of course who shop in the cosy inner city – also make purchases online, in shopping centres and organised shopping parks with a varied product offer.”

“Traditionally Redevco has had a lot of peripheral sites which – due to city expansion – have become increasingly close to the centre. Often these are retail stores, each with a large car park in front of its door and spread alongside the main roads”, de Bois explains.

“To help cities with sustainability, optimisation and densification, we fully commit to the reordering and clustering of our sites. We are trying as much as possible to bring stores dotted around separate locations next to main roads together into mixed projects that also have other functions (e.g. residential, relaxation, sports, catering, offices etc.). By doing this, the sites are full of life all day and all week long, and the space is therefore used in a much more optimal way.”

To help the cities with sustainability, optimisation and densification, we fully commit to the reordering and clustering of our sites.

Need for a more flexible approach from the authorities

De Bois: “Unfortunately it often takes years to obtain a land use plan, permits and permissions for such mixed projects. In addition, the politicians in charge and political visions change almost with every election, which means that there is especially little legal certainty in this area.”

“Moreover, due to the increasing popularity of e-commerce, more and more stores want to reduce their surface area. Even simply adjusting store space or a complex to the needs of these companies takes a lot of expensive time due to the incredibly slow award procedures. The Management of large foreign store chains do not understand this.”

A motivated partner for the improvement of space planning

“Our stakeholders are already highly motivated to invest in our sites and in their redevelopment. Above all they see a tremendous amount of potential in clustering, densification, mixed sites and sustainable construction. We are therefore certainly able to be a valuable partner in this for cities and municipalities. However, this also calls for flexibility from the authorities in terms of taking quicker decisions and responding much more quickly”, de Bois concludes.

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