Environment Minister Zuhal Demir did not issue permits for the new golf resort that real estate baron Paul Gheysens wants to build in Knokke. The property tycoon can challenge the denial with the Permit Dispute Board.
Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) is drawing a line under real estate baron Paul Gheysens’ golf dream. It will not issue permits for the golf course that Ghelamco wants to build in Knokke-Heist.
Ms Demir believes that the resulting dykes and changes to the polder landscape and drainage system would cause too much disturbance and are not compatible with the Spatial Implementation Plan in its current form. The golf project does not fit into the landscape of the polders, but invades it”, justifies the minister.
The dream of a new golf course
Paul Gheysens owns a total of 210 hectares of land for the golf resort. The golf course was to have 18 holes for international competition and a nine-hole executive course. In addition, the estate was to house a large hotel, a 6,000 square meter congress center and 1,350 parking spaces, according to the permit application that our colleagues from Tijd were able to consult. Mr Gheysens, who is also chairman of Antwerp football club, put the total investment at 200 or 400 million euros.
With Demir’s decision, a long neighborhood dispute has been settled for the time being. PEter Taffeiren, former CEO of POC Real Estate, oppose the project on the grounds that golf would spoil the view of the polders of the luxurious 12-hectare stud farm he built with his wife in 2018. The businessman points out that Ghelamco wants to turn the land over almost a million meters to build squares his domain. However, the Taffeiren spouses had sold two plots of land to Paul Gheysens in 2020 on the condition precedent that they were only used for “playing golf”. According to them, this condition was obviously ignored in the final plans of the project.
Taffeiren also had reservations about the hotel, which will include 350 rooms, including 200 luxury suites. These are permanent residences and not hotel rooms. There will also be 79 apartments for golf employees. In reality, this is the largest real estate project in Flanders, which is not aimed at tourists at all, but rather at potential holiday home buyers,” he said earlier.
But Mr. Gheysens was able to count on positive advice – conditional or not – from all government agencies. The municipality of Knokke-Heist was also in favor of the project due to the large event space, the planned urban fringe forest and the arrival of thousands of golf tourists.. The Gheysens can appeal this refusal to the Permit Disputes Board.
Ms. Demir underlined the reservations that several administrations have already expressed. For instance, the open polder landscape will not be entirely preserved and the modifications of the relief made will not be integrated into it.