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Hill 60 - View blocking house proposed.


bierlijn
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That looks good. Well done all concerned.

Keith

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Indeed and I have now amended my initial thoughts on this issue. Hugh once mentioned that the owners would also plant a solid hedge along the frontage to ensure privacy thus removing any views also from the Australian Tunnellers Memorial enclosure. He was indeed correct and the hedge has now been trained along wire fencing to grow so high it will do exactly that!

Sorry. Time to pull it all down! :thumbsup:

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I need to say thanks to so many people for their help, but we don't really know what the judgment will mean in practice, so I hung back and just snuck in a mention on the other forum & thought I'd wait and see what happens now that the Brussels court has lobbed this bombshell back.

The building was put up before the final ruling on the validity of the permit. The court agreed with our arguments and the permit is now invalid. There is no higher court to appeal to, this is the final ruling. Whether the building has to be removed, reduced in size or whether some legal fudge to allow it to remain is possible, we just don't know. There has to be a response from Provincie West Vlaanderen within 3 months.

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You and all involved have done your best Hugh and can take credit for that. As you say, what will be will be and in the mean time I hope the house owners will firstly reduce the height of the border hedge in order to open up what's left of the view.

After all the views issues, I am amazed that they have since been able to or would wish to erect this high boundary hedge knowing full well the implications!!

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Again......Congratulations, and thank you to all concerned who worked with you to get this ruling from the court in Brussels Hugh, you kept at it when other less tenacious persons would have given up.

We are all indebted to you for showing that the W V province is not above the law....

regards

Tom

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I do sometimes wonder at the attention span of some contributors to the forum, since Hugh posted his concerns regarding this development at Hill 60 (post No1) there were 176 post discussing the members attitude to the proposed building work.

Since I posted the link to the result that Hugh and his group gained in the Brussels court, there has been just 5 posts thanking the group for their efforts......

What happened to all the concerns shown in the previous posts regarding damage to this battlefield site ??? Did it evaporate as soon as as contributors had posted their views???

I cannot imagine the work that the group over in Flanders put in to reverse the decision to build on the plot at Hill 60, but I do know that some sign of a "thank you" to Hugh and friends is well due from all those on the forum who were concerned about this development.

"Thank you" only two words.....but I cannot think of anyone who deserves it more in this case....

regards

Tom

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Tom, fair comment, as one of those 176.

My sincere appreciation to Hugh and all those involved. We visited Hill 60 from Australia in 2012 and appreciate the efforts that go in to ensure encroaching development does not unduly impede sites of historical significance. I have visited this thread a number of times to keep abreast and am grateful for the updates.

Thank you to all.

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I have just come across this "breaking news" item concerning Hugh's & Co. excellent work on preserving a very unique part of the Ypres salliant. I've been there when all was bare (1987) and on my last visit I witnessed the build. Indeed a good effort all round!

I salute YOU!

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It would be a good thing for the view to be restored and I must thank the campaigners for their efforts.

However, the owners had this land in the family for many decades as an investment... Many people here in Belgium have building grounds like this in the family to ensure their children will have the opportunity to build their own house without having to aquire an expensive piece of land. My own family is no exception to this. Prices of land assigned for house construction have skyrocketed here over the last few years. The terrain had been assigned for construction and the owners obtained a legal permit at first. If the house has to go down they should be properly refunded by the Belgian authorities.

regards,

Bert

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Of course this is wonderful news and a lot of hard work - very hard work - has been done by those working on this. I was in Ypres quite recently doing some photography for my Messines B Europe book and I must say that I did not think that the house per se blocked the view completely - and I am one who thinks that life has to go on - but the information about the hedge was alarming and seems to show a lack of understanding of the understandable passion people have of this view in understanding the significance of Hill 60 (and it is also a fine view across to Ypres for those who have no interest at all in the Great War).

The authorities seem to me to be working without the left and right hand knowing what each is doing: I gather that there are to be developments to improve access to the Caterpillar Crater and also around the crater itself. Surely it does not take the brains of an archbishop to realise the importance of the sites to the close rear of the Hill 60 and Caterpillar craters? It would seem to me that the system has also let down those who built the house in the first place. However, speculation without facts ...

IIRC this area was well tunnelled and in the inter war years you could go down into these fairly deep dugouts: my father recalls doing this in 1937 and was quite disappointed when he took me as a teenager to Ypres in 1968 to find that these had all gone, with only the rather eclectic bar/museum (museum too strong - exhibition, perhaps?) left, which continued on until, what, about 2004?

That's by the by: great work, Hugh and the team.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It would be a good thing for the view to be restored and I must thank the campaigners for their efforts.

However, the owners had this land in the family for many decades as an investment... Many people here in Belgium have building grounds like this in the family to ensure their children will have the opportunity to build their own house without having to aquire an expensive piece of land. My own family is no exception to this. Prices of land assigned for house construction have skyrocketed here over the last few years. The terrain had been assigned for construction and the owners obtained a legal permit at first. If the house has to go down they should be properly refunded by the Belgian authorities.

regards,

Bert

I'm not certain they deserve any compensation, I have the feeling they started work on the site before full approval was given....maybe someone can confirm or amend this view....

regards

Tom

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Well, the answer to this question is contained here, the full judgement as posted on the Government website:-

http://www.rwo.be/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=X8zbEvrIa6M%3d&tabid=15945&mid=22799&language=nl-BE

But it's going to mean more to Bert than you, Tom.

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Yes you've got me on that one Hugh......

best regards

Tom

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Just seeing the pages of the judgements makes me wince when one thinks of how much solicitors etc charge per page (probably justifiably, of course).

It does seem like something of a cock up: I am not sure who to feel sorry for most.

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Last week I was speaking with the occupiers neighbours and I asked if he thought they would trim the new hedge down in order that those standing in the Tunnellers enclosure could see across to Ypres?.

The answer was swiftly forthcoming and implied that the owners do not wish for the likes of us looking across their garden! I personally feel that this latest action reveals a total lack of understanding and judgement even more so than the original house build itself!!

As for the owners situation today I support Tom's 190 post if true!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all,

What I meant in my post of 25 december was that I feel that the owners should be compensated for the price of their land, not for the value of the house which I agree has been erected while appeal and court procedures were still running. From what I understand the building of the house was not illegal at the time because a permit was obtained from the city of Ypres. However, it was not wise of the owners to do so while appeal procedures with possible severe repercussions were pending. And that is exactly what happened now, judging from this extremely interesting document Hugh posted here....

The whole issue is that building guidelines of this piece of land only allow a house with a volume of 700m³ and a garden house of 20m², 3m high. In stead the house has a volume of 1000m² and the garden house is 30m², 5m high. There is a law stating that 'minor' deviations are allowed. The city of Ypres judged that 30% was a 'minor deviation'. The Raad van State showed a lot more common sense and judged that 30% is no longer within the range of a 'minor deviation' of building guidelines.

Essentially this means that the owners have to bring back their house and garden house to 30% of the volume it has today... However the 'Raad van State', Belgium's highest appeal court in these matters, does not deny that there can be no legal objections to a house of 700m³ with a garden house of 20m² and 3m high being build on the site, despite its historical value. This leaves me with some final thoughts:

- Why did the city of Ypres changed their negative to a positive decision regarding the permit without any real arguments? The arguments they gave to justify this are a joke and hold no real legal ground. While I hesitate to use the word 'corruption', I do feel that this has a bit of a dirty smell to it.

- Basically there is no legal ground for the house to be completely demolished. However, the volume of all buildings has to be brought back with 30%. What usually happens in these cases, is that the owners have to pay a serious fine. However, since their defence in the case before the 'Raad van State' cannot be called very serious, I expect they have allready taken this into account and are willing to pay the fine.

- What strikes me the most is that one British expat whose grandfather fought at hill 60 and risked his life for our sake, sticks his neck out before the highest court authorities in Belgium while we Belgiams have done - once again - next to nothing for one of our most important war monuments. Shame on us.

Hugh, I am afraid that in the end the house will remain as it stands... but thank your trying. After reading the document of the Raad van State the feeling has started kreeping in that we, as a nation, have let you, your grandfather and your countrymen down. And while I cannot speak for my fellow countrymen, I hope you will at least accept my apologies.

Bert

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Hello all,

What I meant in my post of 25 december was that I feel that the owners should be compensated for the price of their land, not for the value of the house which I agree has been erected while appeal and court procedures were still running. From what I understand the building of the house was not illegal at the time because a permit was obtained from the city of Ypres. However, it was not wise of the owners to do so while appeal procedures with possible severe repercussions were pending. And that is exactly what happened now, judging from this extremely interesting document Hugh posted here....

The whole issue is that building guidelines of this piece of land only allow a house with a volume of 700m³ and a garden house of 20m², 3m high. In stead the house has a volume of 1000m² and the garden house is 30m², 5m high. There is a law stating that 'minor' deviations are allowed. The city of Ypres judged that 30% was a 'minor deviation'. The Raad van State showed a lot more common sense and judged that 30% is no longer within the range of a 'minor deviation' of building guidelines.

Essentially this means that the owners have to bring back their house and garden house to 30% of the volume it has today... However the 'Raad van State', Belgium's highest appeal court in these matters, does not deny that there can be no legal objections to a house of 700m³ with a garden house of 20m² and 3m high being build on the site, despite its historical value. This leaves me with some final thoughts:

- Why did the city of Ypres changed their negative to a positive decision regarding the permit without any real arguments? The arguments they gave to justify this are a joke and hold no real legal ground. While I hesitate to use the word 'corruption', I do feel that this has a bit of a dirty smell to it.

- Basically there is no legal ground for the house to be completely demolished. However, the volume of all buildings has to be brought back with 30%. What usually happens in these cases, is that the owners have to pay a serious fine. However, since their defence in the case before the 'Raad van State' cannot be called very serious, I expect they have allready taken this into account and are willing to pay the fine.

- What strikes me the most is that one British expat whose grandfather fought at hill 60 and risked his life for our sake, sticks his neck out before the highest court authorities in Belgium while we Belgiams have done - once again - next to nothing for one of our most important war monuments. Shame on us.

Hugh, I am afraid that in the end the house will remain as it stands... but thank your trying. After reading the document of the Raad van State the feeling has started kreeping in that we, as a nation, have let you, your grandfather and your countrymen down. And while I cannot speak for my fellow countrymen, I hope you will at least accept my apologies.

Bert

A very clear and concise explanation of the situation Bert...thank you.....

And the area around Ypres is gearing up to make a lot of money from battlefield visitors from other countries, who's relatives fought and died for Belgian freedom. Hypocritical is a word that springs to mind...

regards

Tom

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Belated well done to Hugh and all others who have worked to have this development halted and overturned. Let's hope it all happens and that the all-important view from Hill 60 remains accessible to all and not just to people who build on the land.

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And at a minimum, lets hope the house owners are at least forced to remove their newly planted hedging privacy screen now surrounding their extensive garden which has completely removed the view of Ypres from the 1st Australian Tunnellers Memorial enclosure.

I still cant believe they did this after all the reactions to the actual house construction!!

As Chris reveals. I can confirm that the owners have maintained a superb view of Ypres from their side of the house where as from the hill or memorial side......... :(

So sad!

Chris

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With no higher appeal possible, at least the house can be called 100% illegal now... I see only one way to force anything in this case and that is press coverage.

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We have been informed by the editor that this case will be the front page story in a specialist legal magazine, March edition. This may perhaps trigger further interest

www.onze-omgeving.be/#Tijdschriften

This will coincide with the response of the Province to the judgment.

I can't say very much here, we have out own permits to apply for from time to time. What Bert has read in the judgement and non Flemish readers will find difficult are some interesting comments on the rights to object, which might extend beyond those living a fixed distance from a contested site, if the site is of national or international importance.

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Do Belgian protesters have any history of direct action ? - I just wondered what happens there if push comes to shove ?

(Meibion Glyndwr in Wales, for example).

Tom

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  • 3 months later...

A letter arrived today from Province West Flanders with the outcome of the hearing which followed the decision of the Brussels court.

The building permit for the plot in fromt of Hill 60 is cancelled.

The Province admits that the size of the house is not a 'limited' deviation from the maxima allowed in the land law (Verkaveling).

The matter now returns to the source of the now cancelled permit, Stad Ieper. The matter returned to them is that there is an illegal building in fromt of Hill 60, which could be removed if someone obtained a court order.

The recommendation from the Province to the Stad is to try to change the verkaveling to fit the size of the new house. This would be done with an open investigation, to which objections could be submitted. Whether it is legally possible to change the law to make what was illegal legal is a moot point.

If this process was to be strung out for over two years, under another law the house would would be legimised due to the amount of time is has existed.

It will be interesting to find out from the Council when they intend to start proceedings with respect to the illegal building.

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