FAQ ENG

01 The Project

  1. The quality of life of the prisoners is mentioned, but at the same time, this complex will be built between the flight paths from the airport. What measures will be taken to limit noise pollution?
  2. Are there energy conservation measures being integrated into the prison project?
  3. What will the new prison look like? You cannot just built a village just like that?
  4. Why is such a large-scale prison being built, while research has proven that smaller groups work better and are more humane?
  5. What will happen to the existing prisons in Vorst, Sint-Gilles and Berkendaal? Will these prisons continue to operate in order to compensate for the problem of overpopulation?
  6. How much does the cost of building the new prison amount to?
  7. What is a DBFM procedure?
  8. What is the current situation of the permits?
  9. Were the local residents also involved in this project?
  10. Why is the prison being built so far away from the Courthouse?
  11. Why is a prison being built in Haren?
  12. Why are the existing prisons not being renovated?
  13. Why is a new prison being built?

02 Disruption Management

  1. When will the construction of the prison complex be complete and as of when will it be in use?
  2. Can the prison be visited by local residents during and after the works?
  3. Have topographical surveys been made?
  4. Contractors often promise to limit disruption from their works for the local residents. But just as often, these commitments are not kept. How are you actually going to keep your commitments?
  5. What will be done to prevent possible disruption of the works?
  6. When will work take place on the project?

03 Mobility

  1. Will the main traffic to and from the prison respect normal traffic regulations or will they still drive with sirens?
  2. Will the range of public transport increase with the arrival of the prison?
  3. Will the prison not cause traffic jams, as was feared with other projects that were eventually not allowed to take place anymore?
  4. Is there not a risk that staff/visitors will use the shortcuts and park in the surrounding area?
  5. Will the incoming and outgoing traffic also go along the Woluwelaan? Will the combination of all of the projects planned in the area cause traffic chaos?

04 Environment

  1. What is going to happen with the Keelbeekweg?
  2. Will an ecologically valuable area not be lost with the arrival of the prison? How will more green spaces be created?

05 Jobs & Career

  1. I am looking for work. Can I register somewhere if I am interested in working during the execution of the works or later, when the prison is already in operation?

The quality of life of the prisoners is mentioned, but at the same time, this complex will be built between the flight paths from the airport. What measures will be taken to limit noise pollution?

Sufficient acoustic measures will be taken in order to keep the noise pollution for the prisoners at a legally acceptable standard. In any case the prisoner’s quality of life can only improve in comparison with the existing prisons in Vorst, Berkendaal and Sint-Gillis. Back to Index

Are there energy conservation measures being integrated into the prison project?

Definitely. A summary of the measures:

– It will be equipped with solar panels.
– There will be investments in a Drilling Energy Storage System (Boorenergieopslagsysteem, BEO).
– Rain water will be collected for the sanitary provisions.
– Energy-efficient lighting will be used.
– The majority of the buildings meet the passive building standards.

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What will the new prison look like? You cannot just built a village just like that?

Calling the prison a ‘village’ is a metaphor to explain the prison’s philosophy. It is not done according to the Ducpétiaux principle any more, with long hallways that join together at one point. All of the prisoners’ different profiles are housed in a specific building.

On the one hand, the prison complex consists of various buildings where the prisoners are imprisoned and on the other hand, it consists of a number of buildings with communal facilities (such as a visitor rooms, training rooms, workshops, and sports hall). Prisoners can move around the secured site in a secured and controlled way from their building to other communal facilities. This prison is therefore like a campus with various buildings.

The buildings where the prisoners are imprisoned are:

  • 1 prison for men (ca. 610 men) where male suspects are temporarily imprisoned whilst waiting for their trial.
  • 1 prison for men (ca. 220 men) where male convicts serve their actual sentence.
  • 1 enclosed department for women (ca. 100 women) where defendants in prosecution, convicts and prisoners with mental disorders all stay.
  • 1 secured clinical observation centre (ca. 30 people) where people are temporarily admitted and observed as part of a forensic psychiatric investigation in order to see if the person in question needs to be placed in the prison or the psychiatric department.
  • 1 psychiatric department and medical centre (ca. 145 prisoners) where people stay who have committed criminal offences, but who have been declared mentally ill by the court. Prisoners suspected of having a mental disorder stay here in anticipation of the Commission for Protection of Society’s or of the Supervisory courts’ decision. The amount of time they stay here depends on their situation and the number of places available in the care facilities. An active team works at the psychiatric department, with among others, a psychiatrists, psychologist, tutor and social assistant. That is why defendants and/or convicts with apparent (temporary) psychological problems can also be placed in this department temporarily.
  • 1 open department for women (ca. 60 women) who are outside the secured perimeter, but are still on the prison site. The term ‘open’ means ‘low security’. The purpose of this department is that they can form a bond with the nearby surroundings by running a shop and an ironing service. Women can only stay at this department based on the judge’s decision. This decision is based on the crimes committed and the stage of the women’s prison sentence. So, it could be convicts of short sentences or women who are coming towards the end of their longer sentence and are therefore working towards re-integration.
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Why is such a large-scale prison being built, while research has proven that smaller groups work better and are more humane?

Haren prison will not consist in one, but many buildings, each will have its own function, with a mutual interaction. So, it will not just be one big building, but various buildings spread across the 15-hectare site where 1,190 prisoners can stay.

The different buildings are divided into living units. Within a living unit, prisoners live in small groups of around 30 people. The living units are designed so that they can stimulate a community life and encourage the prisoners to carry out their tasks, similar to those in daily life outside the prison walls. For example, they have a community living room with a kitchen, but also a laundry room where they need to wash their own clothes.

In addition, on the site there are a few buildings with communal facilities like visitor rooms, workshops, a sports hall… Prisoners can move around in a controlled way from their section to the communal facilities, similar to how people carry out their daily lives going to work, to sports clubs or to worship.

Since all of these functions need to be combined on one site, the space needs to be used in the best way possible. The supporting services run more efficiently, which has a positive effect on the prison’s investment and exploitation costs and on the feeling of safety for staff.

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What will happen to the existing prisons in Vorst, Sint-Gilles and Berkendaal? Will these prisons continue to operate in order to compensate for the problem of overpopulation?

There are currently no plans to turn the existing prisons into new prisons. The districts of Sint-Gillis and Vorst want to develop the former prison sites. There is currently no additional information regarding this topic.

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How much does the cost of building the new prison amount to?

The total construction cost amounts to 382 million euros including VAT. In addition, there is a yearly compensation of 40 million euros for the full maintenance of the buildings and the site, the operation (kitchen, laundry, waste procession…) during 25 years. In this way, the prison can be perfectly maintained, so that the prisoners can live in acceptable conditions and the (security) staff can do their job in the optimal conditions.

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What is a DBFM procedure?

The prison complex is built based on a DBFM procedure. DBFM stands for Design, Build, Finance and Maintain.

In this case, the private partner (Cafasso NV) is responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining the complex over the course of 25 years. After 25 years, the complex will be transferred to the constructor.
The DBFM procedure has already been used to build the new prisons in Marche-en-Famenne, Leuze-en-Hainaut and Beveren. The service provision and maintenance in these projects seemed to run well with this method which meant that the experience was positively evaluated.

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What is the current situation of the permits?

Since December 2016, the Cafasso consortium has had feasible planning permission and an agreement regarding the transfer and abolition of the surrounding paths (including the Keelbeekweg). Since March 2017, Cafasso has also had a feasible environmental permit. The suspension requests against the environment and planning permission of the prison complex have also been rejected in the meantime.

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Were the local residents also involved in this project?

From the start of this project, there have been moments for contact and debate with the residents’ association which also later became a part of the guidance committee, both during the tender procedure and as part of the impact studies.

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Why is the prison being built so far away from the Courthouse?

Building close to the Courthouse in Brussels is not possible. There is no land available near the Courthouse for building a new prison and a big scale expropriation in the neighbourhood of the Courthouse is unrealistic.

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Why is a prison being built in Haren?

Referring to question “Why are the existing prisons not being renovated?”, building a new prison complex in the Brussels area was necessary. A location was searched for in the Brussels-Capital Region, since the court of first instance requires a prison for every judicial district.

After investigating various sites, the site in Haren appeared to be the only one suitable. On the one hand, the site is big enough (15 ha) to carry out the programme and on the other hand, the development plan allows for the construction of this complex.

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Why are the existing prisons not being renovated?

Renovation is not an option, because the space available is too small and limited. More space is needed for activities, training, preparation for re-integration, etc. In addition, the prisons should be easily accessible in the case of an emergency or uprising. The existing prisons do not meet any of these requirements.

For example, in the existing prisons there is no room for establishing workshops and green zones. Moreover, it is preferable that the prisoners can live together in small groups, instead of in long hallways. Also, the existing cells are too small to be fitted with their own toilets and there is not enough space to install orderly visitor rooms as well as sport and activity rooms.

Particularly in Brussels, the case is that the total surface area of the existing prisons is just 57,000 m², while for the new Haren prison programme, a surface area of 116,000 m² is required.

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Why is a new prison being built?

Building this new prison is necessary for various reasons.

Overcrowding in prisons is an issue that is generally well-known. A shortage of about a thousand places need to be made available.

It is also the case that Haren prison will replace the prisons in Sint-Gillis, Vorst and Berkendael. Like many other prisons in Belgium, these prisons date back to the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century. The prisons no longer meet modern day comfort requirements of both the prisoners and the staff. The labour and welfare inspection already submitted several negative reports about these outdated prisons. The Belgian state is also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights and the European Committee for the prevention of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment because of the inhumane conditions in Brussels’ prisons.

In addition, the prisons no longer align with modern insights and visions regarding imprisonment, nor do they meet the necessary efforts with regards to re-integration. The old institutions are built with an isolation regime in mind. It is the government’s duty to protect society from people who have committed a crime, but it is also their responsibility to ensure that these people are imprisoned in humane circumstances and that they get a new opportunity to make something of their lives.

Therefore, there was a catch up initiated that took into account these renewed ideas: a master plan was drawn up for a prison infrastructure in humane circumstances which the project in Haren is a part of.

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When will the construction of the prison complex be complete and as of when will it be in use?

The prison will be completed during 2022. The complex will first be test run, and then gradually it will become fully operational. As of mid 2022, prisoners will gradually be housed in the prison complex.

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Can the prison be visited by local residents during and after the works?

Depending on the progress of the construction works, the site will open up the general public on the Open Construction day in 2020 or 2021. In addition, after the works, just as it happened in the other prisons, a guided tour will be organised for the local residents.

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Have topographical surveys been made?

Topographical surveys of the buildings in the immediate surrounding area of the works were made by an independent expert. Topographical surveys were also made of public spaces.

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Contractors often promise to limit disruption from their works for the local residents. But just as often, these commitments are not kept. How are you actually going to keep your commitments?

The reality is that these works will cause disruptions. However, we will do our best to limit these disruptions as much as possible. Partly due to our experience at other sites, Cafasso is taking a different approach at this location, by creating a decrease disruption plan and by communicating correctly with the external stakeholders (among others via our website www.gevangenisharenprison.be).

Cafasso commits to trying to limit possible disruptions, but we cannot completely eliminate them. If you, as a local resident, notice any deviations from the commitments made, we recommend that you report this via our website or via info@gevangenisharenprison.be . This way we can handle the problem, adjust our policy if necessary and we can take measures to prevent this in the future.

As our first course of action we have already cleaned up various rubbish dumps along the Witloofstaat.

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What will be done to prevent possible disruption of the works?

In order to identify the possible disruptions, a decrease disruption plan has been made. In this plan, all possible disruptions are listed, together with their impact on the area and the necessary measures for minimising this source of disruption.

In the section Decrease Disruption you can find more information regarding the decrease disruption plan. It goes without saying that this plan is continuously applied whilst the works are taking place, in order to to keep the disruption for the local residents to a minimum.

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When will work take place on the project?

The work will mainly take place on weekdays, from 7 AM to 7 PM.

If there is a deviation from these standard working hours, then the local residents in the immediate surrounding area of zone A, and if necessary those from zone B, will be informed in advance with flyers in their postbox and a notice on our digital information platform. Residents from zone A and zone B can find more information under the section Decrease Disruption of this website.

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Will the main traffic to and from the prison respect normal traffic regulations or will they still drive with sirens?

The prisoner’s transport will respect the normal traffic as much as possible. The use of sirens is limited to situations in which, for example, transport is risky.

The transport usually takes place outside of rush hours. In addition, the amount of prisoner transportation is limited to the presence of courtrooms at the site itself.

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Will the range of public transport increase with the arrival of the prison?

The increase in the capacity and/or expansion of the network of public transport will be discussed with De Lijn and/or MIVB.

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Will the prison not cause traffic jams, as was feared with other projects that were eventually not allowed to take place anymore?

No, a prison causes significantly less traffic than, for example, projects in the retail and recreational industry.

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Is there not a risk that staff/visitors will use the shortcuts and park in the surrounding area?

During the works

The trucks will supply and transport material and raw material through a direct connection with the Woluwelaan. This is the only access to the construction site. The entrance and exit routes are included in the traffic circulation plan in agreement with the police. This plan is transferred to all subcontractors and suppliers, and they should respect this plan. If you, as a local resident, notice any deviations, we recommend that you report this via our website www.gevangenisharenprison.be. Our workers and employees are also encouraged to carpool or use public transport as much as possible. Construction traffic will predominantly be before the morning and evening rush hours.

You can take a look at the traffic circulation plan in the Decrease Disruption section of our website.

When it is in operation

There will be sufficient free parking foreseen along the Woluwelaan. This car park will also only be accessible via the Woluwelaan.

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Will the incoming and outgoing traffic also go along the Woluwelaan? Will the combination of all of the projects planned in the area cause traffic chaos?

During the works

During the construction, all of the traffic will enter and exit via the Woluwelaan. This traffic was studied in the environmental impact report (milieueffectenrapport, MER). We are aware of the works on the Woluwelaan and the works planned by Fluxys (which we have not further been updated on) and we are in close contact with the Flemish Agency for Road and Traffic.

The trucks will supply and transport material and raw material through a direct connection with the Woluwelaan. The entrance and exit routes are included in the traffic circulation plan in agreement with the police. This plan is transferred to all subcontractors and suppliers, and they should respect this plan. Our workers and employees are also encouraged to carpool or use public transport as much as possible. Construction traffic will predominantly be before the morning and evening rush hours. You can take a look at the traffic circulation plan in the Decrease Disruption section of our website.

The junction between the construction traffic and the Witloofstraat, and also the Keelbeekweg in the initial stage, will be clearly indicated with traffic signs.

We know that Fluxys have planned works in the Witloofstraat. The works will be carried out between the Haachtsesteenweg and the substation in the Witloofstraat. During these works, there will no longer be a passage in the Witloofstraat towards the Haachtsesteenweg. Fluxys will ensure that there is a deviation provided through the Witloofstraat towards the Verdunstraat. Seeing as we still need to keep a free passage through the Witloofstraat, this deviation will not be a problem.


When it is in operation

As of the start of operation of the prison, the traffic will continue to enter and exit via the Woluwelaan. This will however be reorganised, taking into account the new entrances and exits from the Ring opposite the entrance to the prison. Via these new entrances and entrances, the visitors can get to the prison via the Ring around Brussels.

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What is going to happen with the Keelbeekweg?

The old Keelbeekweg (an unpaved path that is 1.65 meters wide) crossed the plot where the new prison is being built. That is why it was decided to move the path to keep the link between Haren and Diegem.

The new Keelbeekweg is a full-fledged, paved cycle and pedestrian link with a total width of 4 meters.

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Will an ecologically valuable area not be lost with the arrival of the prison? How will more green spaces be created?

No, no ecologically valuable area will be lost. According to the development plan, the ground in Haren was always destined to be used for industrial and/or administrative activities. For the Brussels-Capital Region, the construction of a prison in this zone has also still been acceptable.

It is true that with the arrival of the prison, a piece of waste land will be lost, but for the most part it is land that used to be for landfill which then became overgrown. Soil surveys revealed a large variety of waste, including asbestos. During the works, appropriate measures will be taken, in accordance with external soil experts and under the supervision of the Brussels-Capital Region’s Environmental services.

It is the case that a protected plant species was found on the grounds, the bee orchid, and there were approximately sixteen present. In the meantime, these have been professionally moved to a zone outside of the predestined construction works, between the railway track beds and the future location of the Keelbeekweg. This move took place in accordance with the recommendation from the Brussels-Capital Region’s Environmental services and in the presence of a certified ecologist.

In addition, a transfer plan was also submitted to the Environment Services for approval at which time a certified ecologist checked if there were bats or amphibians on the site, before proceeding with cutting down the tall trees (after the breeding period).

In 2015, the buildings on the previous Wanson site were dismantled and demolished. Besides the removal of around 466,000 kg of flytipping waste, a large part of the site’s asbestos was removed in an expert manner.

The waste material of the Wanson site such as stone and concrete rubble were collected for the construction of the prison.

The prison complex will be integrated into the surrounding as much as possible, while as much green will be used as possible.

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I am looking for work. Can I register somewhere if I am interested in working during the execution of the works or later, when the prison is already in operation?

During the works

The parties of Cafasso, as well as th Federal Buildings Authority – Regie der Gebouwen, are still looking for motivated staff. You can find more information on this link or on the website www.regiedergebouwen.be.

When it is in operation

As soon at the FPS Justice starts recruiting staff, there will be more information regarding this.

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