Coastal front: focus on high-quality growth
Urbanisation has had a serious impact on the coastal environment and habitat. In the coastal municipalities, the limited space needs to be shared by a wide range of actors. This entails numerous challenges and sometimes even conflicts.
Hannelore Malfait, coastal zone management of the province of West Flanders, explains: "To steer growth on the coast in the right direction, the provincial authorities have installed a participatory process. This process allows local residents, experts and local governments to be closely involved in the development of a project."
The objective of this participatory project is to increase public support for new initiatives. Sometimes, this entails going off the beaten track. For instance, the demolition of a hotel on the esplanade of Blankenberge was the occasion to reflect more deeply on the function of a seawall.
Hannelore Malfait: "In Blankenberge, we have a typical, highly built-up seawall that forms a barrier between the beach and the city. We therefore asked ourselves how we could open up the seafront a bit. Is it possible to create openings or construct taller buildings in some areas?"
The point of departure is that such interventions should have a positive impact on the urban fabric: "We have looked for mechanisms to enhance the quality of the seawall." However, it is not always easy to reconcile this with the tourism and economic interests.
For such a project to be successful, it needs to be approved and supported by the local authorities. In the case of the seawall of Blankenberge, a clear masterplan has been drawn up. The City of Blankenberge takes care of the legislative framework for this purpose.
Read more about the topics Blue Tourism as well as Coastal Defence and the Use of Mineral Resources.