Combining residential and economic activities to use the spatial area in Flanders more efficiently

Flemish Government, Department of Spatial Planning


What are the opportunities for the Belgian region of Flanders to use their space for all kinds of activities in an optimal way by combining residential and company activities?

Project summary

The available area in the Flanders region for new industrial, logistics, retail and wholesale activities is limited. With the current economic growth in Belgium, it will become even more difficult to find the space needed to attract or expand new business activities. The Flemish Government is aware of these limitations and wants to stimulate a more efficient use of the remaining industrial areas. BCI was asked (together with the University of Leuven) to find opportunities for combining different economic activities in specific areas, or even combine residential and company activities. Also, finding ways how government policies on national, regional and local levels could be integrated was in the scope of this project.


In order to answer these questions and get ideas on how the spatial area can be utilized most efficiently, five separate regions in Flanders were distinguished and researched. These regions are located all over Flanders, from the coast to the border with Germany; together they form a cross section of the Flemish economy.
The land use in these five regions has been split in 11 different spatial zones, from inner city center to industrial areas. The possible combinations of economic and residential activities in each of these 11 spatial categories have been mapped; these GIS maps have been made available to the client too. BCI analyzed specific examples of these combinations in the regions under review. In order to check the possible practical use of these combinations, about 40 interviews have been carried out with different stakeholders.


Four possible roles that national, regional and local governments can take in setting up effective policies for combining spatial activities were identified:

  • The lawful government, using rules and regulations
  • The performing government, using investments and other financial instruments
  • The facilitating government, using policy making to facilitate new combinations
  • The government as community partner, stimulating the cooperation between private stakeholders

Examples for effective government policies for combining spatial activities have been detailed in several real-life business cases.

Further reading

The report (in Dutch) can be found at the website of the client.

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