Construction of a metro station threatens 50 trees in Schaerbeek, Brussels

20 FEBRUARY 2018 | By Ana Canomanuel
Photo by: Ana Canomanuel

The Square François Riga in the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek is not only one of the green and social hearts of the area, hosting a weekly market, but it is also home to 7 classified remarkable trees. 

Under the heavy rain, neighbours and campaigners gathered in contempt of the construction plans that would destroy the Square Riga. They listened to Rob McBride, the Trees in Need Ambassador, as he  gave them helpful  tips for mobilising the public and the media.
The Square is classified as green space and is pending a designation of protected status. However, a modification of the Regional Land Use Plan intends to classify it under ‘public roads’, which would allow the construction to occur as planned.

Photo by: Ana Canomanuel

Michel Walravens, leader of the opposition movement, regrets that the public survey was not well promoted among the concerned citizens and didn’t allow for timely replies. Walravens is the author of a petition addressed to the Minister-President of the Brussels region. In the petition, he highlights several reasons for opposing the construction plans, including the environmental risks involved in getting rid of the second biggest green lung in the neighbourhood and the potential for building vibrations in an area where 20 houses are indexed as cultural heritage. In addition to losing a green area, neighbours would also lose between 50 and 80 parking slots, creating a real logistical problem in the neighbourhood. Moreover, RTBF info reports that  research from  the Regional Commission on Mobility affirms that the new metro line won’t reduce traffic congestion.

Photo by: Ana Canomanuel

Although issues like governmental budget and other political priorities of the regional government promise to delay actions such as the approval of construction plans, neighbours continue to monitor developments. . On the other hand, Beliris, the developer of the project, seems to take the project approval for granted.

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