Inclusion of a property in the inventory of the Brussels-Capital Region's real estate heritage

BE Law

What impact could the inclusion of a property in the Brussels-Capital Region's real estate heritage inventory have on your project? Are there any specific measures required? Is the demolition of such a property prohibited?

The CoBAT defines several measures for the protection of real estate heritage. Inclusion on the conservation list and classification are the best-known and most restrictive measures, but there is also a third: inclusion in the inventory of real estate heritage (see article 207 of the CoBAT).

However, unlike inclusion on the conservation list and classification, inclusion in the inventory of a property does not imply any material obligation - such as the obligation to maintain the property in good condition or to comply with any special conservation conditions that may have been prescribed - or any prohibition on demolishing it in whole or in part.

The inventory of real estate heritage is in fact designed as a documentation and awareness-raising tool, and inclusion in this inventory only means that an application for planning permission relating to such a property is subject to the opinion of the concertation commission[1], which may also request the opinion of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites (CRMS)[2] on the project.

Although this inventory already existed in the CoBAT adopted in 2004, the Brussels government only defined the form of the inventory and the information it must contain, as well as the procedure for drawing it up, updating it and publishing it, in a decree dated 8 February 2024.

The inclusion in the inventory of the real estate heritage only takes effect from the date of publication, by mention, in the Belgian Official Gazette. However, such publication has not yet taken place.

Pending this publication, article 333 of the CoBAT provides that all monuments and groups of buildings for which planning permission has been granted or which were built prior to 1st January 1932 are automatically included in the inventory. To date, therefore, only the properties covered by article 333 require consultation of the concertation commission and, where appropriate, the CRMS.

It is also important to make a clear distinction between the inventory of real estate heritage referred to in article 207 of the CoBAT and the inventory of architectural heritage drawn up by the Brussels-Capital Region, available on the Internet at the following address: ([3]. The latter inventory is merely a scientific tool drawn up by the Region which, although it may be recognised as having reference value, has no legal effect.

Inclusion in this scientific inventory does not therefore imply consultation of the concertation commission.

In view of the above, what impact will the inclusion of the property in the inventory of real estate heritage have on your project? The concertation commission and, possibly, the CRMS will be asked to give an opinion on the work you plan to do on the property. This is the only legal effect[4].

This does not in itself impose any specific constraints on your project. You can therefore envisage carrying out major renovations to your property, changing its appearance or even demolishing it. These operations will, of course, be subject to the approval of the issuing authority, as is the case for all projects.

However, the Brussels government considers - regardless of whether a property is included in the inventory of real estate heritage or not - that existing buildings are an important environmental resource, as the construction sector is a major producer of waste and greenhouse gases. As a result, the government tends to favour the preservation and renovation of existing buildings, rather than their demolition.

The draft regional planning regulations (RRU), known as "Good Living", provides that the partial or total demolition of a building can only be authorised after an examination of the project based on a number of criteria. In assessing your project, the issuing authority would take into account the architectural and/or heritage features of the existing building, the possibility of preserving the property in good habitable and/or sustainable conditions, the possible contribution of the project to the public interest, the coherence of the urban environment and, for major projects, an analysis of the life cycle of the property depending on whether it is demolished or maintained.

In other words, if a developer wishes to demolish a property, whatever it may be, but especially if it has certain architectural and/or heritage qualities, he will have to carefully justify his project. As for the issuing authority, it will have to give adequate reasons for the planning permission it issues.

In conclusion, inclusion in the inventory of real estate heritage does not imply as such any material obligation on the property, nor any prohibition on modifying or demolishing it. Its only consequence is that the project will be subject to consultation with the concertation commission and, where appropriate, the CRMS. However, this inclusion in the inventory of real estate heritage will make the issuing authority more attentive in its assessment of the project, which means that the applicant must prepare his permit application carefully on this point.


[1] The government may dispense with the need for an opinion from the concertation commission for acts and works of minimal importance or where such an opinion would not be relevant.

[2] In this case, the CRMS sends its opinion to the issuing authority within 30 days of receipt of the request for an opinion; failing this, the procedure is continued without its opinion having to be taken into account.

[3] The database on this site currently contains more than 40,000 properties throughout the Brussels-Capital Region.

[4] In some cases, the concertation commission and the CRMS may be asked to give an opinion on your project even if the property is not listed in the inventory. There are in fact many other cases in which the concertation commission and, to a lesser extent, the CRMS are asked to issue an opinion on a project.