The commercial city centers of Turnhout and Boom have the highest percentage of vacant commercial properties in the entire province of Antwerp.
The growing diversity in these centers also causes a shift in the supply of goods and services, which is not always favoured by political power. For example, the city of Turnhout is going to put a brake on the growing number of mini-supermarkets, kebab stores and hair salons in the city center in the coming years. Initiatives are also being taken to improve the quality of both commercial premises and housing in the center. The city is even allowing commercial properties in "approaching streets" to be converted into housing.
The mapping of vacancy and the factors influencing it, such as the construction of the large-scale new development with commercial functions 'Turnova' in Turnhout and the (in the meantime discarded) plans of a large shopping center in Boom, together with the examination of the different political interests, legislation and ideology will be an important part of this study.
This master's thesis research will explore with the communities of Turnhout and Boom how residents themselves can take action to reactivate their commercial neighbourhoods in a climate-resilient and culturally resilient manner.