Sustainability becomes more and more important when it comes to subsidizing business parks
By decision of 24 May 2013 (published in the Belgian State Gazette on 10 July 2013), in execution of the Decree on Urban Economics of 13 July 2012, the Flemish Government adopted a renewed regulation on subsidizing business parks in the Flemish Region. With this decision, the Flemish Government moves forward on the path towards more sustainability.
The objective is, on the one hand, to meet the demand for additional business parks and, on the other hand, to contribute to the sustainability of business parks. In contrast to the previous regulation contained in the Decision of 16 May 2007, the funds available (€22 million for 2013) are reserved for projects which would not be realized without additional financial support. The subsidy procedure has also been simplified.
The decision seeks to take account of recent ecological changes, for example, by constructing a heating network (“warmtenet”) or by subsidizing on-street public charging stations for electric vehicles.
Outdated industrial sites (i.e. sites that are still largely in use – possibly for retail – but that require interventions in the infrastructure), brownfields (i.e. sites that are contaminated in such a way that they can only be made productive by implementing structural measures), science parks, recognized strategic industrial sites, problematical sites (“knelpuntterreinen”) (i.e. sites which are not realized because of environmental, technical, legal or policy issues and therefore cannot be offered ready for construction (“bouwrijp”)) and – albeit under stricter conditions than before – also new industrial sites (“greenfields” – retail, catering and of"ces are excluded from these areas) may be!eligible for subsidies.
Subsidies can be awarded to private developers who can demonstrate that they are active in the (re)development or (re)organization of business parks, to public developers inter-municipal utility companies, provincial development companies, communes and provinces, municipal and provincial privatized agencies etc., but also for example, universities) and to public-private partnerships.
Depending on the nature of the bene"ciary and the type of business park, subsidies may be awarded for the preliminary phase (i.e. feasibility studies or process guidance resulting in a concrete plan for redevelopment), for infrastructure works (making land ready for construction), for management costs (including costs of monitoring the construction and exploitation obligations, obligations with respect to the land management and emission plan (“terreinbeheer- en uitgifteplan”) and the CO2 neutrality obligation) and certain other general expenses (such as non-recoverable VAT).
As a condition for subsidizing infrastructure works, certain quality standards are imposed, i.e. standards in terms of preparation of a development plan (“inrichtingsplan”) – including a description of the location (“inplanting”) and accessibility (“ontsluiting”), water management, mobility, business processes, safety and picture quality – an emission plan (including evaluation criteria for potential investors and certain types of companies that might settle on the land, and!construction and operational obligations) and a management plan (“beheerplan”) with respect to, among others, sustainable maintenance. A CO2 neutrality plan should also be drawn up, with the measures taken for CO2 neutrality. Every company that settles on a subsidized site should be CO2 neutral in terms of consumption of electricity.
Under certain conditions, basic support of 50 % of the eligible costs may be awarded for brownfields and unprofitable new business parks (this can, again under certain conditions, be increased to 85 %), for recognized strategic industrial sites and science parks a support of 60 % and for outdated industrial sites 85 %. The subsidy for management of land amounts to 50 % of the staff expenses for a period of five years with a maximum of € 200,000.
It is important to note that the support for infrastructure works only applies to investments in the public domain or in parts of the site which can freely be incorporated in the public domain.
In other Regions there are also some, albeit more ad hoc initiatives in the area of ("nancial) support for sustainable business parks, often more in a public or public-private context. For example, there are the “Plan Marshall 2.vert” (currently “Plan Marshall 2022”) and the call launched by the Walloon Region in 2010 for "ve pilot projects for the realization of sustainable business parks (“Eco-Zonings”) by means of a public-private partnership, which would be supported by the Region for a total amount of €2.5 million.