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  • 2020 December 9 10:24

    Jan De Nul revalorises existing spaces in a sustainable way

    Jan De Nul Group is not only an expert in marine, offshore, civil and environmental activities. With Partner in Site Reconversion (PSR) we also have an in-house developer. PSR is specialized in the remediation, reallocation and sustainable development of contaminated industrial sites and underutilised space.

    "We tackle sites which other developers would rather not deal with", Project Development Manager Julie De Pauw explains in Metro.

    PSR concentrates on the development of brownfields, which immediately evokes an image of polluted sites. However, according to Julie, the definition comprises much more than that. "A brownfield can equally stand for a neglected site in a less attractive neighbourhood". We focus on sites that other developers find impossible to deal with. They are worried mostly by problems concerning vacancy, contamination, asbestos or a long reallocation project. Jan De Nul-PSR possesses all know-how enabling them to evaluate possibilities and solutions for this type of sites. Within the Group, we can count on our own in-house contractor and remediator. This versatility distinguishes us from other developers."

    Creative interpretation
    Revalorising an existing constructed area, paying attention to an efficient use. PSR strongly focuses on a different approach of abandoned sites, even before the start of the actual development. "There is no need in writing off unnecessarily this type of site", Julie says. "Last summer we transformed the historic Meurop factory in Rijmenam into a summer square and a pop-up restaurant. A temporary but creative interpretation that enables the neighbourhood to reconnect with the site in a positive way. We believe that this can act as a catalyst for the rest of the process."

    Unburdening, unlocking, developing
    During the redevelopment project of a site, PSR tries to unburden the owner of all the problems concerning vacancy, contamination or reallocation issues. "This obviously requires a lot of study from our side", Julie says. "We have to calculate well which risks we are willing to take." However, unlocking the sites takes up most of the time. "Often we are working on the bottlenecks of a project for years, before the execution of the works can start. The city council, OVAM, the neighbourhood, other involved parties: for each project, there are different stakeholders at the negotiating table, each with their own interests. We must get everyone on the same page, set up an action plan together and apply for the necessary permits. PSR then takes action and the actual development can start."

    Here too, PSR always opts for a sustainable approach: from the positioning of the blocks and the organization of the public domain to the reuse of rainwater and the execution of apartments, houses, offices or other purposes. According to Julie, this is the challenge the sector is facing: "Given the desire to reduce concrete use, we are forced to be creative with space, but also with materials and mobility. For example, the organization of residential units will have to respond more to teleworking. It is up to us to deal with this creatively and to distinguish ourselves in this way from other developers."

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