Bringing business back to the city

RegioStars 2010 FinalistThe Pieper site is an urban revitalisation project in Liège designed to lure businesses back into the eastern Belgian city. About 1.2 hectares in area, the site has been formed by cleaning two adjoining brownfields, and is a key part of an economic redeployment for the whole region. Unlike traditional business parks usually full of heavy industry on the outskirts of towns, the Pieper site is fully integrated into the urban environment.

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A public road runs through the business street, giving greater visibility to the companies. Copyright: European Commission A public road runs through the business street, giving greater visibility to the companies. Copyright: European Commission

“We already have two companies present in the business park – a furniture designer and a heating company (heating pumps and solar panels). Others will arrive soon, including a glass works and plumbing company, and a producer of photovoltaic panels.”
Jérôme Samain, SPI+ project manager in charge of trans-national cooperation

Only businesses operating in sectors not disruptive to the environment – and with greening policies in place – are allowed onto the new Pieper ‘business street’. Although the site is reserved strictly for commercial use, it has a public road network running through it, is near a residential area and is fully accessible to all citizens. By 2010 some 75% of plots had been sold, ensuring the viability of the project and the area.

Architectural and environmental integrity

To be eligible for a plot, companies must comply with an urban charter that lays down strict requirements for building materials and offers businesses a list of suggestions on eco-management and other sustainable development measures while directing them to Wallonia funding sources.  Among other things, there are suggestions on energy and water management, as well as air and water quality. The overriding goal is to boost the local and regional economy by attracting long-term investors with green values.

A 21st-century solution

The Pieper site is situated in Liège’s St.-Leonard district, which prospered during the 18th and 19th centuries but left a legacy of several brownfields after the demise of the coal-mining industry. The project complements the Liège City Council’s 1995 urban renewal initiative, which called for building public and green spaces, public housing and the creation of a business incubator.

The project is led by SPI+, the economic development agency for Liège province, which purchased the site and is responsible for cleaning, equipment and the sale of land and organisation. The agency works with a wide network of partners that includes the Liège City Council, in charge of the total urban renovation of the St.-Leonard district; SPI+ subsidiary Sorasi, specialised in cleaning industrial sites; committees from the district and local businesses; and Wallonia.

The project has already inspired further urban renewal projects by SPI+, generating new partnerships and collaborations. In addition, there are also indications of a possible duplication of this project in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine districts.

Draft date