Then the next phase can be started. A design will then be drawn for two construction sites. The architectural firm or design team that will draw up the plans for these buildings and the landscape will likely be selected through a competition. The competition formula must also be agreed between the partners. Only then can the environmental permits be applied for.
The site on Sint-Jansbergsesteenweg is, together with the site on Wakkerzeelsebaan in Wijgmaal, the last major housing expansion area in Leuven. This large triangle with an area of about 9 hectares, right between the Gasthuisberg campus and Arenberg on the outskirts of the city, is the ideal location for a large housing development project with minimal impact on the climate. A mix of housing will go hand in hand with nature and attractive community facilities. The area is between Tervuursesteenweg, Celestijnenlaan, Sint-Jansbergsesteenweg and Groeneweg.
In order to further develop the project, 3.6 hectares of remaining land had to be acquired. After lengthy negotiations with the owners and the project developer ION, the city of Leuven was able to reach an agreement to purchase the last plots of land that were still in private hands. These represented an investment of approximately 7.9 million euros.
Around 440 homes are being built here in a forest area, half of which are public housing. Housing is also being built for KU Leuven researchers. The location close to the campus Arenberg, Gasthuisberg and the research center imec makes this location very suitable. A preliminary program is based on accommodation for around 350 researchers with a varied selection of studios, one and two bedroom apartments and ground floor accommodation. There will also be 35 affordable owner-occupied homes and communal facilities on the site.
The master plan, which lays out the contours of this project, was presented at the end of 2020 and broadly describes how the new homes will best fit in with the existing homes. For example, the new homes are built a minimum of 30 m from the neighbours’ grounds, this space is designed as a forest and the building height remains limited. Water management is also being improved. Structural interventions will allow rainwater to seep in to prevent flooding on the Groeneweg and to guarantee forest quality. The central forest is flanked by two housing clusters tailored to the neighborhood. The homes will range from studios to large family homes.
The new residential area will be completely energy neutral. A combination of solar energy and geothermal energy and smart building constructions have been chosen. The partners will design as compactly as possible, consider wooden construction instead of concrete construction and ensure that the buildings are well thought out. a car-free cycling district that focuses on cyclists and pedestrians. A cycle route from Celestijnenlaan via Groenveld to the city center will run right through the car-free new district and the forest. In this way, cyclists can avoid the busy Tervuursesteenweg. Cars are directed to two compact underground car parks. In combination with public bus transport, the entire area must be safe and easily accessible.
The new neighborhood will also contain many communal facilities that not only the new residents, but also the current residents will benefit from. The central forest forms the link between the old and the new district. At the forest entrance, there will be bicycle connections, a bus stop, a play pond, a community center or an organic shop. The neighboring lanes have playgrounds, bicycle sheds and underground parking.
In addition to the agreement for the purchase of the last lot, AG Stadsontwikkeling Leuven has meanwhile also entered into an agreement with the project developer ION for the construction of 35 affordable owner-occupied homes. The houses will be sold, but the land will remain the property of the city. In this way, affordability is ensured. To keep the house affordable in the long term, the resale price is limited. AG Stadsontwikkeling Leuven will determine at a later date who is entitled to these homes.