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10-minute city: How Brussels plans to become a pedestrian-friendly green hub

The Belgian capital has released a roadmap of how it plans to become a ‘city in 10 minutes’
The Belgian capital has released a roadmap of how it plans to become a ‘city in 10 minutes’ Copyright n
Copyright n
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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The Belgian capital has released a roadmap of how it plans to become a ‘city in 10 minutes’.

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Brussels has long had a reputation as a traffic-choked city of high rises and concrete. But in recent years the Belgian capital has laid ambitious plans for an eco-friendly makeover.

In 2022, it came 6th place in a global ranking of the cities going green the fastest.

Now, the Belgian capital has released a roadmap of how it plans to become a ‘city in 10 minutes’ - making the facilities essential to urban life accessible to every inhabitant in less than 10 minutes.

There are seven major stages to the plan to be completed either by 2030 or 2050.

How Brussels is preparing for climate change

The first of the seven ambitious is dedicated to climate and the environment.

Authorities aim to adapt the city to the impending effects of climate change.

These include the increase in energy costs, the increase in periods of drought, the development of a heat island phenomenon and the risks related to intense rainfall and flooding.

How Brussels is adapting to climate change

To mitigate the effects of climate change, the city is looking at how the urban fabric needs to adapt.

Authorities say they will plan for “greater agility and adaptability to rapidly changing urban contexts” including ways of preserving built heritage, conversions of existing structures and construction techniques appropriate for future developments.

Brussels plans to become an open and inclusive city

Brussels plans to make public services and facilities easily accessible to all residents.

The council says it will ensure optimal housing and living conditions for everyone, regardless of socio-economic position, age, disability or gender.

Brussels tackles mobility issues

The Belgian capital plans to overhaul its transport system by introducing low-carbon vehicles.

It will also reclaim public space for the use of pedestrians in a city that has been “designed over the past 50 years based on the priority needs of the individual car.”

In the Lower Laeken area, for example, the aim is to bring high-quality public spaces and green areas to the densely populated neighbourhood.

Similarly in the south of the city, authorities want to “strike a balance between calming car traffic and enhancing the area's many architectural and landscape assets.”

Brussels moves to become a smart city

Authorities also want to introduce a use-based, circular and low-carbon economy in the city.

Brussels will become a “proactive” city that “welcomes new sustainable economic activities and provides diversified local employment.”

It will also use new technology to improve the efficiency and quality of services for citizens.

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Brussels plans for citizen participation

Authorities plan for Brussels to become a city that “fully assumes its role as national and European capital” with a “duty to drive change and set an example.”

They aim to keep citizens as informed as possible and to “multiply the channels and modes of consultation so that they can participate more usefully and directly in the management and development of their immediate environment and neighbourhood.”

Brussels to become a 10-minute city

Finally, Brussels is set for transformation into a 10-minute city. Like the 15-minute city concept, this will see local facilities and services at an easily accessible distance for all residents.

In the northeastern Leopold area, for example, the office block-heavy neighbourhood will be modified to have a greater functional and social mix.

In Neder-Over-Heembeek, a village isolated from neighbouring districts, “the challenge is to connect [it] to the rest of the City of Brussels, ensuring exemplary and balanced urban development in terms of preserving and enhancing its natural heritage.”

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