Municipality of Houthulst and ION kick off PPS project for ‘leisure campus’ in Houthulst

On 11th April, the Mayor & Aldermen of Houthulst, Waregem-based project developer ION, and the construction company Furnibo from Veurne laid the foundation stone of their PPP project that will be delivered on 30th November 2018 under the name ‘Vrijetijdscampus Houthulst’ (Houthulst Leisure Campus). The launch event will take place some 8 weeks before delivery, on 6th October 2018, allowing the inhabitants of Houthulst to get acquainted with the near-finished buildings.

The leisure campus will be located on the grounds surrounding the current sports hall in the Jonkershovestraat, covering some 7.4 hectares (18.3 acres). It will be a completely new site, where the existing buildings will be renovated and integrated into an amalgam of new multifunctional buildings dedicated to sports and culture. The redevelopment of the outdoor sports areas will include two new football pitches, a football stand including a cafeteria, and two padel courts. A unique touch is that all the buildings and outdoor areas are connected by a red stone carpet, symbolising a lane in an athletics track, cleverly showing the way to the various indoor and outdoor areas.

Public-Private Partnership

In order to realise this campus, the Municipality of Houthulst entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with Waregem-based project developer ION. The town sold the land to ION for 1.4 million euros, and ION will let the site out to the municipality on a long lease upon completion. “For this project, the largest in the history of our town, we asked ION to develop an overall spatial concept that would lead to functional, high-quality use of this leisure campus.This is an investment for our residents and an investment in the future of our town.Moreover, it is an investment that will contribute to Houthulst’s own identity, its dynamic character and the further growth and prosperity of our town,”comments Ann Vansteenkiste, Mayor of Houthulst.

Renovation & new construction

The master plan for the buildings, the infrastructure, the accommodation and their respective locations has been developed and approved after intensive consultation with municipal authorities and local sports clubs, and in close cooperation with Sport Flanders (Flemish Community), which has awarded a subsidy amounting to 925,000 euros.

The existing sports hall (1,250 m²) and the judo and table tennis halls will be renovated to meet all existing standards in terms of energy performance, safety and finishing. The entrance to the sports hall will be moved to the back, however, because the parking lot will also be moved to the Paardedreef, so it will be located laterally next to the sports hall. A new cafeteria of almost 500 m² on top of the sports hall, sporting an all-glass façade, will serve as the heart of the campus, overlooking the new buildings and the outdoor sports grounds. The new building includes a gymnasium(1,000 m²), a tennis hall(1,300 m²), and a music room(475 m²). The tennis hall is designed in such a way that it can also serve as a multifunctional hall for school celebrations, fundraising dinners, seniors’ events, and so on.

Outside, there will be two renovated football pitches, one with artificial grass and one with natural grass. A new football standwith its own cafeteria, changing rooms, technical room and lavatories will be erected between the two football pitches. Additionally, ION will build two padel courts. Padelis a racquet-and-ball sport for two or four players that can be summed up as ‘tennis meets squash’.

Kristof Vanfleteren, Managing Partner at ION: “The Houthulst Leisure Campus will be a very good reference for us, so here at ION we are particularly proud of our unique collaboration with the municipality of Houthulst.This PPP allows us to underscore our versatility, speed, creativity and multidisciplinary approach, as we are responsible for both the realisation and financing of the entire sports centre and the development of a residential neighbourhood in the town centre.”For this campus, ION has enlisted the help of Veurne-based construction firm Furnibo, the architectural firm A1 Planningfrom Ostend, and the consultancy firm Lobellefrom Jabbeke.

New residential neighbourhood included

The PPP between the municipality of Houthulst and ION also includes the sale of a housing plot. Mid-October 2018, construction will start here on 32 residential units and a green courtyard allowing passage to the Kerkstraat. The plot is located in the heart of town, along the Broeders Xaverianenstraat, and is currently used as KWS Houthulst’s football pitch.

It will be a green residential area with both semi-detached houses (two houses sharing one common wall) and terraced houses, some of which will have indoor garages. Many of the gardens will give out onto a path running along the back, for easy bicycle or wheelbarrow access. In the courtyard, children from the neighbourhood can play and people can relax on a bench. In addition to the residential neighbourhood, an apartment complex will also be erected near the Kerkstraat.


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