With Logistics Valley Flanders the future of the old Ford site is assured
Immediately after the announcement of the closure of the Ford plants in 2012, negotiations began with Ford to take over the sites and handle the decommissioning. Today, eight years after its effective closure, the master plan enters its final phase. “The future of all plots at the old Ford site are hereby assured,” announced Flemish Minister for Economy Jo Brouns and Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters. “Limburg and Flanders can close a dark chapter for good,” said Genk mayor Wim Dries and deputy Tom Vandeput.
Following the closure of the Ford site in Genk, VLAIO was tasked with coordinating the search for a possible future use of the site. In parallel, it began drawing up a master plan. Following the approval of this master plan by the Flemish Government, the city of Genk, De Vlaamse Waterweg and FIT, VLAIO and De Vlaamse Waterweg entered into a cooperation agreement to ensure the smooth running of the remediation and construction management. A market survey was also organised to involve a private partner in the redevelopment of the non-waterfront area.
Throughout the process, De Vlaamse Waterweg took over the effective redevelopment of the site and VLAIO’s role shifted to coordinator and financier – to date, 37.5 million euros have been invested from the Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Due to the high social impact of the job losses that accompanied the closure and, on the other hand, the role that a solid large business park can play as a top location for Flanders, there was a certain haste involved in the redevelopment. In the process, each section of the old site, divided into three major areas, found its new destination.
- In the water-related zone C, an area of about 48 hectares, H. Essers is realising a new large-scale logistics development with 7 of the 15 halls already in operation. Port of Limburg will construct a new inland port with container facilities on the remaining part. A new 425-metre quay is currently being finalised here.
- On the 42-hectare non-waterfront zone B, Genk Green Logistics (GGL) will realise 21 turnkey logistics units aimed at the logistics and manufacturing industry. Here, too, the first companies are already active with Eddie Stobart, P&O Ferrymasters, Nippon Express and Neovia Logistics, and further occupation is progressing steadily.
- All this is supported by the new shared infrastructure in Zone A. Based on a jointly developed master plan and subsequent design, starting in 2016 the old facilities were demolished, the contaminated soil excavated and finally the new joint infrastructure constructed – which is currently in its final phase. Besides roads, cycling infrastructure, shared parking, water and green buffers, a number of smaller plots with a combined area of 4.5 hectares are planned for support functions. With today’s land transfer, POM Limburg and the city of Genk will take full ownership of its occupation and development. This final piece of the redevelopment process will aim to attract new distinctive functions with a reach that will radiate into the larger Genk-Zuid business park, and by extension the province of Limburg.
Eight years after the closure of the old factories, this project is thus entering its final phase, and this thanks to the thorough cooperation between private and public partners at various levels. The result is a sustainable and future-oriented large-scale logistics business park that can compete internationally, and will be known in the future by the new name Logistics Valley Flanders.
Flemish Minister for Employment and Economy Jo Brouns: “Everyone remembers the closure of Ford Genk. I am proud to see how a solid collaboration between many different partners is now building a new future on this site. With Flanders Logistics Valley, Limburg and Flanders are put even more firmly on the European map. Together with local governments and private partners, we will build the Ford site into an innovative port with a bright economic future ahead.”
Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters: “A rich past gives way to a promising future. Logistics Valley Flanders has a strategic location on the Albert Canal, with several inland terminals and a rail connection. This makes it an important link in the sustainability of the logistics sector in Flanders. In order to further stimulate this modal shift from road to water, together with De Vlaamse Waterweg nv, we are building a quay wall to help entrepreneurs in their plan to transport more goods via inland navigation. This redevelopment is already generating a lot of new business activity, so the site will again play an important role within the economic fabric of Limburg and Flanders in the future”.
Genk mayor Wim Dries: “The city of Genk has always been very closely involved in this strategic site from the time Ford operated there to today’s transformed ‘Flanders Logistics Valley’ site. We are therefore delighted to be given the opportunity by the Flemish Government, together with POM Limburg, to put this site on the European map and further develop it into an innovative smartport with added value for the existing Genk industrial fabric.“
Tom Vandeput, Deputy for the Economy and Chairman of POM Limburg: “Just as the former Philips site in Hasselt was given a new future with the successful Corda Campus, we as POM Limburg, together with the city of Genk and with financial support from the province of Limburg, also want to give this remaining un-redeveloped Ford site a bright economic future.“