Antwerpen, Belgium
City population: 499254
Duration: 2005 – 2013
Implementation status: Completed
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: 180000 m2
Type of area: Other
Last updated: October 2021

Park Track North (Park Spoor Noord) is built on a former railway territory and was aimed to provide a social, green and mobility 'corridor' as the territory disconnected parts of the city (Ref. 1,4). Now, the park has a sustainable drainage system, allows a maximum diversity of people to use the park and has trees that will last for a long time. The park is further considered sustainable because of the use of FSC wood, re-used materials and energy-efficient lighting while the historical railway elements are restored or reused (Ref. 1,7).

Overview

Nature-based solution

  • Parks and urban forests
  • Large urban parks or forests
  • Green corridors and green belts
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Lakes/ponds
  • Green areas for water management
  • Swales and filter strips
  • Sustainable urban drainage systems

Key challenges

  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Flood protection
  • Stormwater and rainfall management and storage
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Regeneration, land-use and urban development
  • Conversion of former industrial areas
  • Promotion of naturalistic urban landscape design
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Social cohesion
  • Social interaction
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Enabling physical activity
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation
  • Cultural heritage and cultural diversity
  • Protection of historic and cultural landscape/infrastructure
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)
  • Sustainable consumption

Focus

Creation of new green areas

Project objectives

The main goal of the intervention was to provide a social, green and mobility 'corridor' to reconnect and positively affect the surrounding neighbourhoods Dam, Stuivenberg and Steefhoek (Ref. 4). An important goal was also to create a park that can be used by everyone and therefore the designers aimed at a high level of citizen involvement in the design, especially citizens from the surrounding neighborhoods (Ref. 1, 5). Another goal was to inspire urban planners by setting the stage for sustainable urban development (Ref. 4). An additional goal was to store as much stormwater in the area as possible to discharge the sewage system and prevent flooding (Ref. 7). Lastly, the designers wanted to develop a park that has aesthetic value, for example by creating a 'magical atmosphere' by means of the lighting at the water garden (Ref. 7).

Implementation activities

The revitalization of the park 18 hectare park was completed in 2013, but work is ongoing on a 6 hectare development of homes, public facilities, offices, restaurants and shops next to Park Spoor Noord is ongoing (as of October 6, 2020) (Ref. 15). Activities included: Establishment of a sustainable drainage system: allow water to flow from higher parts to lower parts of the park to lower parts where swales are created with extra permeable soil. In case of heavy rainfall, those swales can be flooded which creates pools (Ref. 1, 7). Creating recreational and sports facilities: walking paths made from reused railway materials and FSC wood, public barbecues, fountains, a bar, a water garden, playgrounds, sports fields (table tennis, basketball and a 'skate bowl') (Ref. 1, 3, 6, 7). Creation of green spaces with moor and a mix of fast and slow growing trees (Ref. 3, 6, 7). Introducing LED street lighting to save energy and prevent 'light pollution' (Ref. 1, 7) Redesign of a former railway building into a open shelter that is used as public meeting space and maintaining historical water towers (Ref. 7).

Main beneficiaries

  • Citizens or community groups
  • Marginalized groups: Low income citizens

Governance

Management set-up

  • Government-led

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys)

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

The project was initiated by the municipality of Antwerp and AG VESPA (public works department of the municipality of Antwerp for real estate and urban projects) who also finance the park (see comments) (Ref. 2). The park was designed and implemented by two architects (Bernardo Secchi and Paola Viagano), Buro Kromwijk (landscape designers), Meertens en Steffens (consultancy) and Iris Consulting (consultancy) with high involvement of inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhoods by means of surveys, consultations and workshops (Ref. 2,4). Originally, the land was owned by the railway company NMBS who sold part of the land to the municipality for 1 euro (a symbolic euro). In exchange, the NMBS received building rights from the municipality for the remaining part of the railway territory of 7 hectares for which the railway company can receive revenues from project developers (Ref. 5,10).

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Yes (The 'Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Vlaanderen 1997' (Spatial Structure Plan Flanders), which is a policy of the Flemish government which states the national strategy regarding spatial planning. This includes the maximal protection of open space and the redevelopment of derelict areas in order to increase quality of life of citizens, which has guided the local 'Strategisch Ruimtelijke Structuurplan Antwerpen' (Strategic Spatial Structure Plan Antwerp) (Ref. 4,8).)
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (The 'Strategisch Ruimtelijke Structuurplan Antwerpen' (Strategic Spatial Structure Plan Antwerp) of 2003 in which it is stated that a recognizable 'spine' should be created in the city in which neighbourhoods and urban parks are connected (Ref. 4).)

Financing

Total cost

More than €4,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • EU funds
  • Public local authority budget

Type of funding

  • Earmarked public budget
  • Direct funding or subsidy

Non-financial contribution

Unknown

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Water management and blue areas
  • Increased protection against flooding
  • Improved stormwater management
  • Green space and habitat
  • Increased green space area
  • Increased conversion of degraded land or soil
  • Restoration of derelict areas

Economic impacts

  • Stimulate development in deprived areas

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Fair distribution of social, environmental and economic benefits of the NBS project
  • Improved liveability
  • Improved access to urban green space
  • Increased visibility and opportunity for marginalised groups or indigenous peoples
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Gain in activities for recreation and exercise
  • Cultural heritage and sense of place
  • Protection of historic and cultural landscape / infrastructure

Type of reported impacts

Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system

Unknown

Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records

References