Urban renewal policies for Cureghem

When strolling through Cureghem one can notice that within the historic structure of the district a few modern buildings arise that are distinguishable not only by their condition, but also by their sometimes higher living standard. Some of these buildings are actually a part of the municipal strategy of urban renewal and the provision of diversified living space in Cureghem. Cureghem has long been in the focus of urban renewal policies, as social, infrastructural and economic disparities are higher than in other parts of Brussels. Several instruments since aimed at mitigating these disparities and improving living quality in the area. Since 1994, these instruments have been in action in Cureghem and all over Brussels. For syncity, Christian Dessouroux looked into the diverse policies and programs that have been implemented in Cureghem in the past and in the present. This Tale will show a few examples of urban policies as well as their aims and their effects.

Several urban renewal policies can be categorised and have been or are in effect in Cureghem:

1: Neighborhood contracts
The neighborhood contracts are in use since 1994. The aim of these contracts is to improve public space, create housing for low- and middle-income categories, stregthen social cohesion and help improving the local economy.

2: Urban revitalisation zone
Urban revitalisation zones aim at identifying and defining priority zones for public investment in order to boost living conditions and local economy. The socio-economic status of a statistical district is decisive for the classification as an urban revitalisation zone. The istrument exists in various forms since 1981 and is still in use today.

3: Urban renewal contract
Existing since 2016, the urban renewal contracts are quite a new form of an urban renewal policy in Brussels. Grown out of the realisation that other tools fail to tackle certain areas and problems, these contracts strongy focus on these negleceted areas, such as wastelands in between district borders.

4: City Policy
In 1999, the Federal Government created the "Major Cities Policy". It is designed to ensure greater conviviality and to fight against the feeling of insecurity in areas, where the cohabitation of different population groups, insecurity and urban degradation grew.

5: European Urban Policy
The European Union developed various programs aiming to reduce economic, environmental and social problems as well as disparities in urban areas in Europe. In their specific targets these programs differ, the European Social Fund (ESF) for example focusses on employment wheras the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) adresses regional development. Funds like these are a major backbone for many Urban Renewal Programs also on a national or local level.
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These programs have been in place all over brussels and all over Cureghem. A special instrument in the urban development in Brussels is the Contrat the Quartier, the Neighborhood Contract. It is an action plan for urban renewal applied on a certain neighborhood. Through specific projects, like the creation of public spaces or the construction of housing, the living conditions of the inhabitants of an area should be improved. A core component is always the resident engagement. These contracts are in place since 1993 and organised in certain timeframes. This means, that they are often overlapping timewise and spatially, they can build upon former contracts and measrues taken. Usually, they focus on the topics of housing, public facilities and public space.

Over the the years since 1997, fifteen Neighborhood Contracts have been established in Cureghem. This map shows some Contracts and their location:

Urban Renewal Policies like the Neighborhood Contracts aim towards improving the living conditions in Cureghem either economically or in regard to public space. Infrastructural, societal or structural measures for reducing the social divide have hence been successfully implemented over the years. Still, out of a social viewpoint it remains unclear if those measures and urban renewal policies really have been successful in significantly improving the living conditions for the local population.

It will be interesting to see how these renewal policies develop and adapt to an ever changing Brussels. Those policies also aim at being participatory, so the inclusion of the population, the engagement of Cureghems citizens seems vital for good results for everyone.

All Photos and Graphics in this Cureghem Tale have been produced by the syncity team. For further detail please contact us.