In 2007, the Region adopted an International Development Plan (IDP) to secure its prestige and appeal among Europe’s major cities. The IDP featured the major winning assets of the Heysel site including excellent accessibility, the established presence of business and tourist activities attracting more than 5 million visitors per year, plus a significant commercial demand in the North of Brussels. 

NEO plans to optimize these winning assets to turn the Heysel into a real multi-functional district where quality of life, economic appeal and international dynamism will be the driving forces of development. 

Sustainable development 

The project includes a strong strategy for sustainable development in mobility, energy and water. It aims to be exemplary in terms of architecture and sustainable development in all areas. The most modern techniques will be systematically prioritized. 

  • New constructions that meet the latest low-emission standards, designed to help extend their lifecycle. 
  • Economical use of energy, materials and water and their reuse. 
  • Permeability of the entire site thanks to hydro-absorbent surfaces. 
  • Layout of the Plateau to promote soft mobility links on the site. 
  • Exemplary Shopping District, used as a reference of best practices on the matter. 
  • Local generation of 20% of energy needs.
  • Rainwater collection and recycling.
  • Creation of ecological links to promote the movement of species between green spaces. 
  • Integration of the sports infrastructure into a new park layout. 
  • Protection of large trees.

Quality of life

The quality of life is at the heart of the NEO project: 

  • Urban densification to address demographic needs and the proportion of green space (one third of the area, or 21 hectares) 
  • Mixed functions 
  • Creation of facilities for residents such as crèches, sports facilities, spaces for cultural and artistic activities, etc. 
  • Increased space for pedestrians and cyclists thanks to the gradual elimination of most surface car parks and the implementation of an urban layout to encourage the development of pedestrian and cycling paths. 

A combination of public and private investments

Coordinated by NEO, a company created jointly by the Brussels-Capital Region and the City of Brussels, the rearrangement of the Heysel Plateau is based on private investments of ca. €1 billion (private partners in the NEO1 and NEO2 projects, etc.) and public investments of at least €335 million (public and green spaces, mobility infrastructure and facilities, Parc des Sports [Sports Park], MICE infrastructure and facilities, etc.).

Economic impetus

NEO will be one of the pillars of the international prestige and appeal of Brussels. 

The strength of the NEO project lies in particular in the fact that the Heysel Plateau already welcomes more than 5,000,000 visitors per year, thanks in particular to the Atomium, Brussels Expo, Mini Europe and Kinepolis. NEO is keen to provide new urban functions (convention centre, business district, housing, green spaces, etc.) and to support existing infrastructures and create synergies between them. 

At least 250 hotel rooms are planned so as to give this economic revitalization an added boost. They will help improve the accommodation of the public of the Convention Centre and Brussels Expo as well as tourists. The hotel and catering offer will be reinforced near the business district and opposite the Atomium, as well as along the dwellings that border the new park. 

Some 3,000 direct jobs will be created for the business district alone (+/- 2,400 FTEs). The development, implementation and operation of the entire project will create several thousand jobs. The project is moreover part of a broader dynamic of tourism development on a regional and international scale as the main job creation vehicle in Brussels. 

NEO’s business model entails investing the flows generated by the provision of land to create high-quality infrastructure and facilities and public spaces.