New purpose for Landbouwbelang (LBB), cultural free space disappears

New purpose for Landbouwbelang (LBB), cultural free space disappears

"They may be trying to make the free space disappear, but we certainly won't"

25-05-2023 · News

MAASTRICHT. Student housing, restaurants and art education. That is the future of the Landbouwbelang (LBB), the Maastricht municipality announced this week. There is no place left for the current 'cultural free space' at this location.

For years, the municipality has had plans to give the former grain warehouse next to the Maas a new function. Last Tuesday, alderman Frans Bastiaens (Urban Development) announced that the tender procedure for the site had been completed. In 2025, a consortium of Maastricht developer RO Group, Belgian developer Vestio and Group Machiels will start the conversion of the Landbouwbelang, to be completed two years later.

The winning plan will retain more than half of the monumental building, which will house Zuyd University of Applied Sciences' Toneelschool (Drama Academy) and Conservatory of Music. In addition, three new towers will appear on the site. These are intended for housing, ranging from student accommodation to spacious owner-occupied flats. There is also space for restaurants, sports facilities and green spaces.

The tender also marks the definitive end of the cultural free space on this site, which came into being after a group of squatters moved in twenty years ago. People still live here, and it is home to initiatives such as the 'Foodbank' and 'Maastricht goes Vegan' and many alternative festivals, which are also popular among students. "With the people behind those initiatives we are in talks to look at alternative places," alderman Bastiaens noted.

Slap in the face

Within the LBB community, there is a lot of "pain, anger and sadness" about the decision, says Kali Benton, a third-year student at University College Maastricht. She is part of a group of fifteen people - "about half of whom are students" - who recently started a petition and organised a demonstration against the demise of the free space. According to the group, the LBB is a unique and indispensable breeding ground for culture and self-expression; closure would have a devastating impact on the local and international community.

That the new plans also include room for culture - for instance, there will be a public passage that will also be used as a "forum for Zuyd's performing arts" - does not offer a solution, according to Benton. "The point of the free space is that everyone is welcome here, not just people who pay tuition fees. Many students from the Toneelschool and Conservatory come here to get new ideas and inspiration. Some of them told us that they experience it as a slap in their face that their own institution, of all things, participates in destroying this place."

In addition, within the community there is little confidence in the municipality's search for alternative venues, Benton argues. "Many people who run cultural activities at the LBB have either not been contacted by the municipality yet, or only have been offered expensive and therefore unrealistic proposals." The group plans to organise new actions. "To make it clear to the municipality that we are dissatisfied, but also to find local allies. They may be trying to make the free space disappear, but we certainly won't."


Photo: Joey Roberts

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: lbb,landbouwbelang,municipality,toneelschool,conservatory,studenten

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