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Design & Development

Club Brugge’s long-running stadium pursuit buoyed by permit ruling

Featured image credit: B2Ai

Belgian Pro League football team Club Brugge hopes to have made a breakthrough in what has been an over 15-year battle to develop a new stadium after receiving an environmental permit for the project.

The Flemish Government has given the green light to an application from Club and its development arm for the demolition of its existing home, Jan Breydel Stadion, and the construction and operation of a new football stadium with retail activities, parking facilities and a new neighbourhood park.

The latest news comes after Club expressed its frustration in February 2023 as efforts to deliver a new stadium that date back to 2007 were dealt another sizeable blow following the upholding of a complaint against an environmental permit granted in October 2021.

Despite what Club claimed was the broad involvement of the local neighbourhood in the design, the permit was challenged by 16 local residents in an appeals procedure with the Council for Permit Disputes (RvVB). Parking provision, along with the impact on local road infrastructure and the environment, were among the chief complaints at the time.

The new permit has been granted by Flemish Minister of the Environment, Zuhal Demir, and Minister for Economy, Jo Brouns. A government statement read: “Ministers Brouns and Demir have given the green light to a project that has developed an unprecedented mobility plan, together with the city council and the police, to ensure that there is a good balance with the immediate environment.

“The quality of life for local residents was a point of attention throughout the entire process. This involves a shift to means of transport other than the car, such as public transport and the bicycle. Without such a strong mobility component, a permit would have been very difficult.

“Club also invests in urban greenery, which is a plus and an important contribution in the context of climate change. The 3,000 nearby parking spaces will also serve the community on non-match days and function as a parking zone. In this way there is also great added value for the neighbourhood with, among other things, a running track and play and sports elements.

“Finally, there should also be a complaints point for local residents, so that the club and the city can act quickly and make adjustments if problems should arise. The mobility plan, and strict compliance with it, will be monitored and followed.”

A group led by Belgian architecture firm B2Ai and French counterpart SCAU were appointed to develop the project to replace the 29,000-seat Jan Breydel Stadion, which first opened in 1975.

The new stadium was originally envisioned to seat 40,116 fans. It is intended to provide a more intimate experience, and includes a number of eye-catching design elements. These will include its exterior being draped in a special type of highly resistant perforated textile covering, and its interior feature a 12,500-seat stand modelled on the famous ‘yellow wall’ at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.

The project will also involve the development of an ‘Olympia Park’ around the new stadium, which will serve as a neighbourhood park for local residents on non-match days.

A 45-day window now exists for any potential filing of a petition for suspension and/or annulment of the permit decision, with early indications being that a fresh challenge will be mounted. Club entered the new permit application in November and has welcomed its approval.

It said in a statement: “The new stadium is absolutely necessary now that the Jan Breydel Stadion is well past its shelf life after almost 50 years.

“Due to its design and use of the latest techniques and materials, the new stadium will have substantially less impact on the nearby environment, but will also be accompanied by numerous measures to keep any remaining nuisance to an absolute minimum.

“Club Brugge is committed to a comprehensive mobility plan and is conducting constructive discussions with the neighbourhood to develop and implement additional measures to reduce nuisance, including prior to the construction of the new stadium.

“Club Brugge is committed to all those involved to continue these constructive discussions even after the construction of the new stadium.”

In March 2023, Club and city rival Cercle Brugge were granted a new lease deal to continue playing at Jan Breydel Stadion for the coming seasons. Cercle has the option of playing in the new stadium, unless it chooses to pursue its own project.