146 brand new social housing units but desperately unoccupied since August! This is the situation for the brand new Petit Chemin Vert housing complex in Neder-over-Heembeek (City of Brussels): 72 social housing on one side and 64 medium housing on the other who are still waiting for their tenants and who will still have to wait until early 2022.
Behind the dazzling white facades, parquet floors that still smell of varnish, clean kitchens, unused sanitary facilities: these apartments and houses smell like new. But there : this modern complex of 20,000 square meters which is the pride of the Brussels public authorities, regional as well as municipal – the Secretary of State for Housing Nawal Ben Hamou (PS) and the mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close (PS) paid a visit there in early September – has been empty for three month. Something to amaze local residents.
How to explain this situation ? The initial project dates from the end of the 2000s as part of of the 5,000 housing plan the then Regional Secretary of State for Housing, Françoise Dupuis (PS). At the time, a public regional company, the SFAR, is created to carry out the work. Except that the project with its 200 homes is too imposing. The residents say no.
The templates are revised downwards and the work begins ten years later. The 146 newly created housing units are then acquired from the SFAR by the Land Administration of the City of Brussels, which itself will transfer part of it to the social housing company. Brussels Housing. Property transfers that drag on and notarial deeds that are long overdue. “As it is a new district, there was a need for additional documents at the town planning level.“, specifies Lionel Godrie, Managing Director of Housing in Brussels.
Our first tenants should move in next January
“For a little over a week, the City of Brussels has officially been the owner of the buildings“, details Lionel Godrie.”There is a deed that still has to be signed between the City of Brussels and the Brussels Housing, an emphyteusis deed so that we can manage part of the buildings. As in any notarial act, we need a period of two to three months to collect all the information including elements relating to the demarcation. (Editor’s note: common delimitation of neighboring land). We, during this time, will not wait for the signing of the lease agreement to bring in the tenants. We are in the process of finalizing our attributions. Normally, our first tenants should be able to return next January, between January 1 and January 15 probably.“
Who are these inhabitants? In large part, these come from the buildings of Rempart des Moines, in the city center. These dilapidated blocks must be demolished and rebuilt. In the meantime, tenants will be able, if they wish, to settle in Neder-over-Heembeek in the brand new housing. Calls for interest were launched last May before the first planned moves, as we have said, in early 2022.
Housing we badly need
“The transfers will probably take place in three successive waves“, adds Lionel Godrie,”to allow removals and for people do not collide in the commons. By mid-February at the latest, all the buildings, which we manage, will be occupied.“, or 72 social housing units.
It must be noted that the delays in the processing of notarial acts penalize Brussels Housing and Land Management, which are affected by the situation. “It is all the more frustrating for Brussels Housing as we are tied hand and foot. There was nothing we could do on our side. The project had been over for a while, we were suspended from action. For us, it is scandalous to have empty housing when we badly need it.“
The Heembeek case is rather rare. “As a general rule, when we build housing, we are the prime contractor and therefore there is no transfer of ownership. It has happened to us in the past with projects of the Housing plan linked to the SFAR entity to have sometimes slightly longer deadlines. But here, this is the first time that we have had such a long delay, which can only be explained by the administrative procedures. What changes at Petit Chemin Vert is that we are dealing with a new neighborhood. This is a game-changer at the town planning level.“The health situation probably didn’t help either.
The new Petit Chemin Vert housing complex also has green spaces and 121 parking spaces.