Sustainable Transport Strategy needed for Tervuren

The Africa Museum in Tervuren is due to re-open on 9th December this year after an extensive renovation, which incorporates a new exhibition centre that almost doubles the whole space open to the public. The new facility promises to be an exciting international visitor attraction, but risks becoming mired in controversy because the renovation programme has spectacularly failed to take into account the question of transport for the increased number of visitors anticipated.

Nothing has been planned to encourage visitors to use the tram or bus network in order to avoid road congestion, and amazingly no provision for parking at the Museum has been made. It is nothing short of a scandal that €70 million was spent on the renovation and expansion of the Museum but that nothing was done to provide for transport and parking solutions. Local residents have appealed to the Mayor to postpone the re-opening of the museum until a total transport solution including good parking provision has been agreed.

By Johan Bakker – Own work, Creative Commons


Originally it was planned to build an underground car park but somehow this idea was abandoned on the grounds of cost, and an alternative parking solution and bus terminus is being looked at by the commune which would involve the alienation of open green space, outside the boundary of the Museum, in a residential area nearby. Questions are being asked whether planning requirements have been cut short, and if so, why this could have happened in the framework of such a major project.

This debacle has been received very badly by people living in the neighbourhood, who have been incensed by the failure of the Mayor to consult them, and who have hired town planning lawyers to contest the proposals of the Tervuren Commune. Their main objections relate to the damage that would be caused to the living environment, the dangers to pedestrians and cyclists posed by the temporary solutions proposed, and the cavalier attitude of the Tervuren Commune in riding rough shod over local opinion and failing to require the Africa Museum to provide underground parking within the boundary of their territory as was always originally envisaged.



A veritable scandal is starting to bubble to the surface, at precisely the wrong time for councillors looking for re-election in the October regional council elections. What the Mayor of Tervuren, and his Councillors have failed to take into account is that times have changed, and with the internationalisation of Brussels, more and more expatriate voters are taking an interest in local politics, and their voice added to the many voices of long term village residents about their quality of life simply cannot be ignored. The expatriates are well integrated with their neighbours; they are not eccentric bigots, and they have a genuine interest in helping the commune to find the best possible solution to local problems, and to contributing positively to local debate with their knowledge and experience. The Tervuren Commune is a classic example of a Brussels suburb with a high percentage of expatriates who do take a constructive interest in local affairs and empathise with their neighbours.

The residents of this part of the village object to their green open space being alienated and have come up with a number of solutions for the Tervuren Commune Administration to consider, such as making use of the existing new and under-utilised underground car park in the centre of Tervuren, and operating a shuttle bus to the Museum, or making greater use of the parking for the adjacent Colonies Palace, and introducing a charging system for it, or refurbishing and improving the existing separate parking lot for the tram terminus.

The residents are keen to be genuinely consulted by the commune and for their views to be taken into consideration; the electoral process can only benefit from this, but it remains to be seen whether the community can come together and work out a solution, or whether the scandal will degenerate into a frozen legal process. Such an outcome would be in nobody’s interest, and it is to be hoped that the elections on October 14th will catalyse a constructive and positive debate between local politicians and residents leading to a healthy compromise solution and a sustainable transport strategy for the village.