The province of Antwerp creates space

Image © Province of Antwerp

With the geopolitical plan, the province of Antwerp wants to redefine the use of space on its territory. In addition to raw materials and energy, space is also becoming a scarce commodity. The Provincial Council approved the draft physical plan today. Anyone can view the document and make comments from December 16, 2022 to March 15, 2023. This is the last chance to have your say before the 2001 Physical Structure Plan for the Province of Antwerp, or RSPA, is replaced.

The surface of our province remains the same, while the demand for space continues to increase, explains Luk Lemmens, deputy responsible for spatial planning. Space is needed for additional families and additional recreational opportunities, but also for water collection, nature, food production, energy, etc. In this connection, mobility is a major challenge due to the scattered settlements, the relatively large proportion of detached single-family houses and our heavy dependence on the car. We must also try to fill business parks as efficiently as possible and take into account the vacant areas and the interconnection of activities. With the physical plan, we contribute to solutions to these social developments. We are making new rules to use our scarce space differently, and we count on cooperation with municipalities and other partners on this. In this way, we contribute together to the realization of the SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals.

Public investigation

The provincial council approved the draft of the physical plan today, continues Luk Lemmens. It is an abstract matter, but it will ultimately affect everyone’s living and working environment, or certainly our children and grandchildren. We therefore encourage everyone to provide feedback during the public consultation, which runs from 16 December 2022 to 15 March 2023.

You can find all the information about the public inquiry from the end of November at www.provincieantwerpen.be/beleidplanruimte. During the public examination, you can also see the draft physical plan in the provincial government building, at the 69 town halls of the province of Antwerp and at www.provincieantwerpen.be/beleidplanruimte.

In parallel with the preparation of the physical plan, the province also examined its possible environmental effects. You can read the result of this in the draft EIA plan (Environmental Impact Statement), which you can also see under the public inquiry. Comments on it are also welcome.

TIP: Visit an information moment about the draft physical plan in Antwerp, Boom or Turnhout in January 2023. You can also ask questions to the project managers. The province of Antwerp also shows other interesting ongoing projects. The program and all information about these information moments can be found from the end of November at www.provincieantwerpen.be/beleidplanruimte. There you can also subscribe to the newsletter about the preparation of the Provincial Spatial Policy Plan for Antwerp.

From design to final plan

In autumn 2019, the province already organized a public consultation and consultation round on the concept note and in autumn 2021 a consultation round on the preliminary design. The feedback received at the time has always been thoroughly investigated and taken into account. With this public survey, the province of Antwerp is giving the opportunity to refine it.

At the same time, it again requests advice from all municipal councils in the province of Antwerp, the Flemish government and other authorities. All advice and reactions are combined and thoroughly investigated. Involving as many people as possible leads to informed choices in the final Provincial Spatial Policy Plan for Antwerp, which replaces the outdated Physical Structure Plan for the Province of Antwerp or RSPA from 2001.

Four guiding principles

What does the draft physical plan contain now? Well, the province of Antwerp strives for efficient use of space and bases its policy plan on four principles: economic use of space, resilience, proximity and accessibility, and individuality. Economical utilization of the space stands for optimization of open and built-up spaces, which must be both livable and sustainable. Resilience refers to making our society resilient, for example to shocks from climate change. Proximity and accessibility aim at the connection between mobility and space. And the individuality emphasizes that the physical plan is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire province, but a collection of solutions in relation to the location, size and character of each location.

Approach

The Provincial Spatial Policy Plan for Antwerp describes these four principles in the long-term strategic vision. To make these principles more concrete, the new Geographical Plan contains three so-called political frameworks that ensure the implementation of the vision in the medium term.

With the policy framework Strong networks, the province of Antwerp wants to strengthen the existing networks. This includes town and village centres, but also industrial areas and economic clusters. After all, a place does not stand alone: ​​its position in a network determines the unique possibilities of the place. Sustainable mobility plays a big role in this.

The second policy framework, Lively Cores, is about making the cores livelier to prevent further fragmentation of the remaining open space. This core reinforcement ensures that living, working, relaxing, shopping and enjoying nature are increasingly connected in town and village centres.

The third political framework Densification and densification of space is an extension of this. Condensation and condensation, it sounds contradictory, but it is not. We must use the already built-up space, which is well located, more efficiently. At the same time, we must dare to remove remote buildings and pavements as much as possible and leave the available open spaces undeveloped as much as possible.

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