Doing more with less space: not just in Monaco!

Diegem, in the Flemish periphery around Brussels, and on the Brussels – Antwerp axis, is near the national airport of Zaventem. It goes without saying that, in an area of such national and international economic importance, space is scarce and demand is growing. What can be done when you run out of space? In Monaco, Jan De Nul Group started dredging and depositing soil to create usable space. In Flanders, landfills get a new destination. Doing more with less space: reallocating and recycling a site, the circular economy, that is a skill that PSR Brownfield Developers truly master.

Reallocating and recycling a site that is a skill that PSR truly master!

For the Desmedt site in Diegem, a former sand extraction site that was used as a landfill for years afterwards, PSR even goes a step further. “Residentially redeveloping a landfill site has never been done before”, says Johan Geeroms, director at PSR. We are bringing a site that had been left fallow for forty years back on the market. What a result! A mix of affordable houses, apartments and urban villas in a green, sloping residential park. Car-free, underground parking and green energy. We take care of it all." Johan is rightly proud of the pioneering role that they are fulfilling – again.

Expertise

The purchase and ongoing redevelopment of this brownfield site is a textbook example of an infill project. This seamlessly links to the municipality’s masterplan and the approved “Diegem Centre” spatial plan, which aim at the qualitative ‘filling’ and knitting together of open inner areas and existing residential fabric. “The role of pacesetter is best suited to PSR and we are happy to include it within the ‘redevelopment of landfills’ working group at the recently established Brownfield Foundation. Here we share our expertise to enable the development of a transparent legal framework and the inventory of landfill sites in Flanders”, explains Johan.

Synergies

The collaborations, synergies within Jan De Nul Group have been an asset for years. For this project, with the development and upgrade  of a well-opened brownfield to become an enjoyable residential area, PSR is joining forces with the civil department and sister company Envisan, who together are true circular economy masters. In addition to soil remediation, they also take care of the rubble recycling. Envisan also studied the potential of the landfill together with PSR. Pieter Beel, Environmental Expert within the environmental division, clarifies: “In recent years, Envisan has participated in two pilot projects for the development of landfill material (the so-called enhanced landfill mining), commissioned by OVAM, the public waste company of the Flemish region. We also look at the temporary use of landfill sites through, for example, the installation of solar panels as in the Terranova project. These two possibilities, namely mining on the one hand or the temporary use in anticipation of future mining, were evaluated for the landfill here in Diegem. Because full mining is not profitable, neither in the short nor in the long run, PSR filed an application under the brownfield agreement for the sustainable, definitive redevelopment of the landfill. Several criteria were successfully tested. Pieter continues with great enthusiasm: "The dumping material mainly consists of construction rubble and is therefore easy to sieve. Where possible, the sieved rubble will be used as a foundation material for roads and buildings. In addition to the obvious 'waste to land' criterion, PSR also meets the 'waste to materials' criterion." Once again, the circle is complete.

Circular economy

This circular reallocation of the Desmedt site will not only bring a new dynamic, but new life into Diegem. When it comes to the environment, remediating the soil will provide this underutilized site and its surroundings with oxygen, giving it a second breath.

"In collaboration with Envisan, we also recycle the space itself, including the present waste materials and the construction rubble. How is that for recycling and circular economy? And if you know that landfills occupy about 88 square kilometres in Flanders - even more than a Belgian provincial town like Aalst - it opens up perspectives", says Johan with a smile.

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