Belgium - Flemish region


More detailed report: National Policy Report

Thesaurus: Thesaurus - Dutch terms

Glossary: Terms in Dutch

National coordinator: Serge DEFRESNE


Belgium being a federal State, the Flemish government is the central actor in the implementation of the regional immovable heritage policy.

The immovable heritage Minister Mr. Geert Bourgeois defined the following major policy issues for the term 2014-2019:

  • Building the bridge between heritage and society by evolving from an imposing towards a coaching approach: the government becomes more pro-active and communicative, heritage owners/administrators are treated as clients, heritage organisations become mediation partners, municipalities get more freedom and responsibilities;
  • Evaluation of the inheritance of 75 years of Flemish heritage policy: the existing heritage inventories are updated and developed into policy instruments, the effectiveness of the listing activities is measured, financial support systems are updated and optimized;
  • Diversifying the financial support system and developing a set of tax incentives;
  • Studying the benefits of heritage for society to counterbalance the image of heritage as a burden; promoting it as an added value for society and a sustainable resource in an ecological, sociological, social and economic sense

On January 1st 2015 a new general immovable heritage decree, bundling and updating all the legislation concerning the built heritage, landscapes and archaeology, has entered into force. The new law reaffirms certain principles already included in the older legislation (e.g. the development of heritage inventories, the listing of heritage, the system of financial support …), updates them and strengthens their effectiveness (e.g. certain adaptations to the listing procedure …), concretizes some concepts (e.g. the principle of subsidiarity, with larger responsibilities for communities …) and introduces new ones (e.g. heritage orientation plans for broader policy-development …). Most importantly it aims at the full implementation of the Valletta-Convention.



The main Flemish immovable heritage actors/instances are the following

a. Minister responsible for Immovable Heritage

b. Flemish commission for immovable heritage: external advisory board for issues concerning the implementation of the heritage legislation by the Flanders Heritage Agency. Also handles appeals.

c. Flanders Heritage Agency (ministry): prepares and carries out the Flemish heritage policy & legislation, divided in 4 departments:

  • Heritage policy: carries out thematic research (policy level), prepares legislation, responsible for follow-up of international affairs …
  • Research and listing: responsible for inventories, listing procedures, thematic research (heritage and conservation level) …
  • Heritage management: the ‘face’ of the agency; handles permits, grants, recognition of heritage experts …
  • Information and communication.

Follow-up of compliance and law-enforcement are carried out by a separate inspection agency.

d. Heritage organizations: perform network or umbrella duties, provide services, sometimes financially supported by the government. Some of the bigger ones:

  • Herita: Flemish National Trust, umbrella for immovable heritage organisations, organizes European Heritage Days in Flanders;
  • Monument Watch Flanders;
  • Centre for Religious Art and Culture.

e. Local authorities:

  • Partners in carrying out the Flemish heritage policy;
  • Allowed to complement the Flemish heritage policy;
  • Possibility to create communal and intercommunal heritage services, taking over certain Flemish responsibilities.

f. Officially recognized heritage specialists and services

  • heritage depots;
  • archaeologists;
  • metal detector users;
  • heritage entrepreneurs.

g. Together with the § 1 above, an organisational chart showing the structure of competencies and responsibilities within heritage management (size : half-a-page) will be included.