Case 2008

Case Conference October 2-3 2008 in Leuven

In the city of Amberes there is a pressing need for additional space for industry. There are two possibilities: either to redevelop an abandoned industrial site, or to develop an area adjacent to the existing industrial area. This adjacent area is actually zoned for agricultural purposes. Both choices confront the city with a number of difficulties. The abandoned industrial site is heavily polluted, and the corporation that owns it has been declared bankrupt and is unable to pay for the cleanup of its property. Furthermore, it is surrounded by residential neighbourhoods, and the inhabitants are lobbying the city to convert the site in a park. They will certainly oppose the establishing of new industries The new plan/development of the agricultural area promises to be a difficult process, since it will be opposed by the agricultural lobby and a conservation group which fears that the extension of the industrial area will threaten a nearby conservation zone. In any case, the rezoning requires an environmental impact assessment. Whatever choice the city will make, it is almost certain that the decisions made by the city will be challenged in court.

You are supposed to answer the following questions (in total max. 5 pages):
1. What kind of regulation or case law exists in your country when a polluted site must be decontaminated, and the owner (who to simplify matters is also the author of the pollution) is bankrupt and unable to pay for the clean up?
2. Is the new plan/development and environmental impact assessment an easy or difficult procedure? Does it require a lot of time? Is it expensive?
3. Who has a legal standing to bring challenges to zoning decisions? At which stage of the zoning procedures can those challenges be brought? What is in general the scope of judicial review, and what remedies can be ordered? If the court finds a the zoning process or decision illegal, can it nevertheless let it stand and allow only for damages to be paid?

Marc Boes, Leuven, August 2008

Click to read country responses to this case: