The Brussels Capital Region has more than 1.2 million square meters of undeveloped public land and vacant buildings. This offers numerous opportunities for affordable housing, writes research medium Apache.
Since 2015, all undeveloped land and vacant buildings of public owners that are suitable for so-called ‘weak functions’, such as public housing or neighborhood facilities, have been inventoried. An analysis by Apache shows that there are still more than 1.2 million square meters of unused land and vacant buildings available in the Brussels Region. The figures date from 2019, the most recent update of the land registry.
Most of the unused land and buildings are owned by local authorities (municipal authorities and OCMWs) and one church factory. This is followed by the various regional actors, with Land Management in the lead, followed by the regional development company Citydev. Social housing companies only come in fifth place.
Of all available land, approximately 35 percent was forested in 2019. The rest is largely paved or consists of grassland. Only 6 percent of the area is built on. About 30 percent of the
available land is fallow, more than 20 percent is used as parking, almost 20 percent as a vegetable garden.
This public land can be an instrument in the fight against the housing crisis. Rents continue to rise and more than 50,000 Brussels residents are waiting for social housing. The purchase prices of homes are also exceptionally high, while building land is scarce. For example, more social housing could be built on public lands, or homes sold through Community Land Trust. The resident only buys the home, and the land remains common property. This makes purchasing the home cheaper.
About sixty civil society organizations, united in the Brussels Association for the Right to Housing (BBROW), are calling on all housing actors to build 100 percent public housing on their public lands.