Charleroi redevelopment ongoing

Tim Harrup

The Charleroi region is continuing to update its infrastructure with a series of projects either already underway or planned. A selection of these was presents at Mipim last week by Igretec, the authority in charge of development.

Igretec started by pointing out that the greater Charleroi area involved extends to 30 communes across 2,000 km², and includes 600,000 inhabitants. The whole development plan is framed within the ‘Projet de Territoire’ masterplan.

The first of the major projects to be outlined involves the huge industrial wasteland just to the west of the city, with over a hundred hectares to be redeveloped. The extensive de-pollution works are now underway. Part of this site will be used for the future headquarters of the Belgian Defense. The choice of this site reflects the desire of the Defense not to be kept in a conclave out of sight of the public at large, but to form part of society. Partnerships with outside companies are also made easier by this location, and this in recognition of the fact that most people do not spend their entire careers in the Defense service.

In another district, the ‘Campus Confluence’ is, as its name makes clear, located on the banks of the Sambre. This site is being redeveloped into a mixed use urban port and will also accommodate the future new stadium for Charleroi football club. The river banks will be renovated as part of the project. Igretec is also creating a logistics hub dedicated to food with a massive centralized kitchen, and a short circuit vegetable system. All of this forms part of the Europe/Wallonia relaunch plan.

Close to the airport, works have started on the ‘Aéropole’ site which will be dedicated to research, incubators, spin-offs and labs. There will be 60,000 m² of new bio-tech buildings designed to enable this sector to double its capacity in Charleroi within 5 years.

The Station district, including the station itself, is being renovated. The desire here is to create a mixed use district with both economic activity and housing, along with other facilities. Just as the case for Brussels South Station, this district will see the former postal sorting office redeveloped. The aim in all of this is for a ‘positive energy’ development with a high level of waste recycling. The largest co-living project in Wallonia is also set to take its place here. In the city centre, the focus will be on business, with the former barracks being converted into a co-working centre.