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The future of the Midi district

 - ©ADT-ATO/Reporters

2014-03-12 – On Wednesday, during MIPIM 2014, the Minister-President of the Brussels Region and Djamel Klouche, the urban planner responsible for drawing up the Master Plan, presented the latest thinking on the future of the Midi district.

The Midi district, which is Belgium’s largest rail hub and an international gateway to Brussels, is in need of a regional strategy to steer its development and meet the needs arising from population growth.

The Minister-President commented: ‘The key point is that it is essential for this area’s international role to be made ​​compatible with the life of the local community, based on improving housing and facilities, enhancing the quality and management of public spaces and taking measures to reduce the impact of through traffic.’

In order to strike this balance, Djamel Klouche’s team was commissioned in September 2013 following an international competition, based on a submission focusing on the concept of an ‘inhabited station’.

The report on the Master Plan presented this morning includes a number of powerful proposals based on a realistic implementation timeframe and intended in the medium term to promote parity between residential and tertiary functions.

Thus, by 2020, the Victor and Jamar projects should create 45 to 50,000 m² of extra housing. Within the same timeframe, the Grand and Petit Quadrilatères, totalling 15,000 m² of space under the railway lines, should be converted to accommodate facilities, shops and a permanent market. Public spaces such as Rue Couverte and the Esplanade de l’Europe will be redeveloped and will continue to host the traditional Sunday market. A new development fronting onto Avenue Fonsny will accommodate the SNCB-NMBS Group offices currently located between Rue de France and Rue Bara. The Postal Sorting Office will also be kept and improved to leave space for evolving plans.

Finally, the Gare du Midi railway station will undergo an ambitious renovation using budgets earmarked in the SNCB-NMBS Multiannual Investment Plan 2013-2025.

By 2025, the block between Rue de France and Rue Bara could undergo a predominantly residential development involving at least 40,000 m² of housing. The second phase of the Fonsny project will also be developed, including student accommodation in particular.

The Minister-President has now asked the SNCB-NMBS and municipalities to finalise their consultations with a view to seeking formal approval for the Master Plan. Among other topics, the consultation should cover the conditions for the implementation of Eurostation’s plans for a new international terminal, on which the SNCB-NMBS has been asked to issue a formal opinion.