Starting from next year, works will start on the turning of a pond into an open air natural swimming pool in the Brussels municipality of Anderlecht, Regional Environment Minister Alain Maron has announced. The pond is located on the Neerpede site in Anderlecht, an area covering more than 400 hectares in the south of Brussels.
“Brussels residents yearn for quality green spaces, for their health and well-being. Brussels also lacks places where people can bathe in the open air, as was possible 50 years ago. So the construction of a natural swimming pond in the park will offer Brussels residents a unique swimming and relaxation experience in an enhanced natural setting”, Maron said in a press release.
The waterpark is set to open in 2026 but before then a lot of work has to be carried out in order to make the project possible. A big part of what will become the natural swimming pool is currently covered by cement, greatly altering the water quality. Through the renaturation of the pond and its bank, it is hoped that local fauna and flora will benefit too. Other alterations, such as the installation of noise barriers and the ecological diversification of the poplar grove, are also in the books.
Once work is complete, the waterfront park will span over 40 hectares and will only be open in the warmer months of the year (May to September) and vistors will have to book a spot beforehand, with tickets sold “at a democratic price”, according to the office of Maron. Even though the pond will be closed to the public from October to April, sports clubs will be allowed access a few hours per week for training.
By imposing reservations, officials hope to be able to spread vistors over the course of the day and, by doing so, avoid overpopulation of the area. Only 225 bathers will be allowed to enter the water at once, in order to make sure that the filters will be able to handle the changing of the water composition. That number can however be reduced if necessary, depending on weather conditions, which could have an impact on the water quality. If full capacity is reached, all bathers will have 21 square meters of water surface at their disposition.
However, not everyone is thrilled about the plans. About 7,800 people have signed a petition against the project, saying they are outraged by the fact that the project seems to be almost pre-approved even though the official permit hasn’t yet been delivered.