The troubled process to develop a new national football stadium in the Belgian capital, Brussels, is seemingly over after the Flemish government denied planning permission for the project.

The 60,000-seat ‘Eurostade’ was intended to replace the 50,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium, formerly known as the Heysel Stadium). It was first opened in August 1930 before undergoing redevelopment in 1995.

However, it has encountered numerous challenges, troubles which ultimately cost the Belgian Football Association (URBSFA/KBVB) its hosting rights for Uefa Euro 2020 last month.

The Eurostade was to be built on a car park serving the current stadium, with the Brussels Expo site located on land just outside city limits. Flemish Minister for Planning and the Environment Joke Schauvliege has now ruled that the stadium plan is too large in scale, amid wider concerns over traffic and accessibility issues.

According to the Flanders News website, Schauvliege said that “the nuisance and risks to people and the environment couldn’t be kept to acceptable levels” if construction of the stadium were to go ahead.

Schauvliege had to make a decision on the project by the end of the month and the minister received negative opinions from municipal authorities in Grimbergen, of which the Strombeek-Bever site is located, the Flemish Transport and Public Works Department and the Roads and Traffic Agency.

Flanders News said the total surface area taken up by the project plan was significantly more than the allowed 50,000m². Indeed, Schauvliege said this was double what was permitted, not including washroom and food and drink facilities and utilities.

In a statement, Koen De Brabander, secretary general of the URBSFA/KBVB, said: “After Uefa withdrew the candidacy of Brussels as a host city of Euro 2020, this decision is a new setback for the reputation of our football and our country in general. In the case of the construction of the Eurostade, the Belgian Football Association never held the cards itself.

“We deeply regret the decision taken today, and we have always been in favour of this new stadium, just as we welcome the construction of every new football infrastructure in Belgium, and we are now awaiting the further reaction of the parties involved in this dossier.”

IMAGE: Etereuti (Pixabay)