Case Description

Flanders is one of the most densely populated regions in Europe whilst characterized by an extremely high spatial fragmentation and share of sealed surface, resulting in an increased vulnerability to drought and flooding. This year, the Flemish government decided on the ‘building shift’, which states that by 2025, only 3 hectares per day (instead of 5/day now) of additional space will be taken up for the construction of buildings to reach a complete stop by 2040. Flanders is trying to encourage municipalities to increase the qualitative yield of space through their spatial policy planning process. However, financial compensation by local authorities is budgetary hard to achieve given the high rate of private ownership of these plots, even as the Flemish Government has set up a fund for paying ‘planning damage’. Therefore, supplementing this fund with income from planning benefits levies is being examined. Spatial instruments to transfer the value increase from beneficiaries of planning decisions to the ones that need to be compensated, but also instruments that grasp the value creation by public green infrastructure, are currently underdeveloped. Cities such as Genk, which are shaping densification plans that safeguard the most valuable green-blue infrastructure, are relying on such regional-level evolution in regulation. Additional (soft) tools and financial instruments will be required to scale up and redirect real estate development to areas where it is most climate resilient. As more advanced tools and regulatory instruments exist in the Northwestern cluster, the project will highly contribute to designing a new toolbox for realizing the ‘building shift’.

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