Borrowed Glimpses

Posts tagged bulldozingbelgium
The last of the Belgian polder—(or below-sea-level)—villages, Doel was reclaimed from the Scheldt River near the North Sea at the beginning of the 17th century. The village that grew behind a sea wall is now under threat of demolition—not from a failing dyke or an unexpected rise in water levels, but from the insatiable need of the expanding Port of Antwerp for more land. The construction of a large dock and container terminal is already under way just next to the village; and there is pressure to build a second terminal where the village now stands.
400 of Doel’s original 900 residents remain, the ones who choose not to take up the government’s offer to sell up and leave—who will be permitted to stay only until early 2007. The government makes no guarantee that the village will be safely habitable beyond this date. More than 300 requests to move into the vacant houses have been declined, and the village has fallen into disrepair, reinforcing arguments of those pushing for demolition.
Approximately 200 squatters have made homes here. The school and hotels have all closed. Of the restaurants, only two cafés remain. The tiny post office and police station are rarely open. Only one shop, an electrical appliance store, is left.
But a mixed band of residents, locals and newcomers, is beginning to fight back. One such campaigner is Marina Appers, who has covered the front of her house with banners. One reads,Over our dead bodies will we leave Doel!“My house must be the most photographed house in Belgium,” she laughs.

The last of the Belgian polder—(or below-sea-level)—villages, Doel was reclaimed from the Scheldt River near the North Sea at the beginning of the 17th century. The village that grew behind a sea wall is now under threat of demolition—not from a failing dyke or an unexpected rise in water levels, but from the insatiable need of the expanding Port of Antwerp for more land. The construction of a large dock and container terminal is already under way just next to the village; and there is pressure to build a second terminal where the village now stands.

400 of Doel’s original 900 residents remain, the ones who choose not to take up the government’s offer to sell up and leave—who will be permitted to stay only until early 2007. The government makes no guarantee that the village will be safely habitable beyond this date. More than 300 requests to move into the vacant houses have been declined, and the village has fallen into disrepair, reinforcing arguments of those pushing for demolition.

Approximately 200 squatters have made homes here. The school and hotels have all closed. Of the restaurants, only two cafés remain. The tiny post office and police station are rarely open. Only one shop, an electrical appliance store, is left.

But a mixed band of residents, locals and newcomers, is beginning to fight back. One such campaigner is Marina Appers, who has covered the front of her house with banners. One reads,Over our dead bodies will we leave Doel!“My house must be the most photographed house in Belgium,” she laughs.

Local activist covers her house in banners: “Doel must stay” and “Ov our dead bodies are leaving here”

Local activist covers her house in banners: “Doel must stay” and “Ov our dead bodies are leaving here”

Weekend tourists visiting the half-empty; half abandoned and threatened with demolished town of Doel.

Weekend tourists visiting the half-empty; half abandoned and threatened with demolished town of Doel.

Asylum seeks from neighboring districts dumped in Doel owing to a dearth of empty houses.

Asylum seeks from neighboring districts dumped in Doel owing to a dearth of empty houses.

"Warning to potential squatters; ‘Squatted 12th, December 2005"

"Warning to potential squatters; ‘Squatted 12th, December 2005"

New residents - an international circus.

New residents - an international circus.

One of only remaining bars left in Doel catering for curious day tourists now closed.

One of only remaining bars left in Doel catering for curious day tourists now closed.

Gas pump long since emptied.

Gas pump long since emptied.

Abandoned gas station.

Abandoned gas station.

Interior of  an an abandoned residential property.

Interior of  an an abandoned residential property.

An abandoned propoerty looted by small-time construction workers for toilets, sinks etc. 

An abandoned propoerty looted by small-time construction workers for toilets, sinks etc. 

With no shops left in the village of Doel residents have to ravel 8 nile to get basic goceries. 

With no shops left in the village of Doel residents have to ravel 8 nile to get basic goceries. 

Remaining resident walking dyke which protects reclaimed used for fertile agricultural land. 

Remaining resident walking dyke which protects reclaimed used for fertile agricultural land. 

Artificial sound barrier constructed by excavated dirt to protect the remaining villagers from the  sound of the the harbor extension.

Artificial sound barrier constructed by excavated dirt to protect the remaining villagers from the  sound of the the harbor extension.