The city of Lommel must pay three million euros to family after expropriation almost 50 years ago (Lommel)

The city of Lommel must pay three million euros to family after expropriation almost 50 years ago (Lommel)
The city of Lommel must pay three million euros to family after expropriation almost 50 years ago (Lommel)
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The saga goes back to 1976, when the city of Lommel had plans to build a new cultural center. This should be located near the current Hertog Janplein. To realize these plans, a couple that owns many plots of land must be expropriated. In total this concerns an area of ​​19,032 square meters. In 1979, the justice of the peace also determined the compensation: just under 15 million Belgian Francs.

That seems to be the end of the matter. Only: the cultural center will never appear on that site. The expropriated plots remain empty for years. Only in 2001, when a new zoning plan was drawn up 25 years later, did things move forward again. The city decides to sell part of the land in question to the construction company Bema Algemeen Bouwwerken. Two transactions took place in 2006: first a piece of 2,864 m² was sold for 718,864 euros, followed seven months later by a second piece of 3,036 m² for 817,313.22 euros. The construction company will later build four apartment blocks there.

Summons

The couple in question has long since died. But the youngest of their eight children is sane. He heard about the city council’s plans as early as 2004. He still remembers the expropriation and declared the city in default in 2006. The summons follows almost a year later. “When the city no longer wants to use the land for public benefit, it should have offered those lands again to the heirs of the expropriated couple,” says Guy Sols, who acts as a lawyer for the family. “The city has made that retransfer impossible.”

“When the city no longer wants to use the land for public benefit, it should have offered the land again to the heirs of the expropriated couple”

Guy Sols

Family lawyer

After a series of interim judgments, the court ordered the city of Lommel to pay damages of 2.8 million euros in 2022, plus interest from June 23, 2005. The city of Lommel appealed against that decision. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal ruled on the issue. The compensation will be retained, but the city of Lommel will only have to pay interest from January 13, 2021. “In total, this amounts to about 3.2 million,” says Master Sols.

Heirs

This brings an unexpected twist to an expropriation from almost 50 years ago. The youngest son, who rang the bell at the time, died in 2021. The eldest son of the family has also passed away. Since then, their heirs have acted on their behalf in the business. The other six children are all in their seventies and eighties today.

Lommel mayor Bob Nijs was not yet aware of the verdict on Tuesday. In 2006, at the time of the sale of the land to the construction company, Louis Van Velthoven was still wearing the sash.

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