The fact that the planned budgets for the development of the Stuivenberg site were postponed to the next legislature (2026) without first communicating with the neighborhood set off alarm bells for many residents.
“Envisaged information meetings for local residents no longer took place, neighbors who asked questions received no or meaningless answers and when the hospital moved to the new ZNA Cadix, the building was even completely boarded up,” says resident Elise De Groot, who, together with two other residents, gave the impetus to set up an action group.
“While the city started planning a bright future for the site more than a decade ago. Several moments of participation followed, but everything has been at a standstill for a year now.”
In mid-October, Alderman for Urban Development Annick De Ridder (N-VA) announced that in six to ten years the former hospital will house education, shops, homes and a daycare center. A park of 2.8 hectares will also be provided. Until then, a temporary solution is being sought. 2.4 million euros have been promised for this through a political decision of principle. Initially, this would involve opening the gardens and making temporary commercial businesses possible by the summer of 2024.
The residents believe that it has been known for long enough that the Stuivenberg Hospital would leave. “Nevertheless, the site will still remain untouched for at least a year. Even though the needs in this neighborhood are enormous. With a few minor interventions, the site can be made partially accessible much faster,” says De Groot. “We are also concerned about the budget: according to the estimates, 2.4 million euros is more than insufficient for the temporary purpose.”
Omarm Stuivenberg has therefore bundled a number of demands and questions for the city council. The group demands, among other things, that the promised resources for the development of the site are immediately released and that the implementation of the planned plans of July 2022 is initiated this legislature. Postponement or cancellation until after the elections is not an option for the action group.
Furthermore, the residents ask to be involved (again) in the design of the site for the short and long term and they want clear communication and a clear answer to the many questions they currently have.
“Our neighborhood is structurally underfunded and that is really not okay,” De Groot concludes. “This is a densely populated neighborhood with a lot of poverty. If you invest in this, you as a city council can act as a lever for more equality in society. We must take advantage of that opportunity.”
The action group will make itself heard for the first time on Wednesday evening. “Because we want to prevent the project from coming to a standstill after the elections.”