Oostende Arrondissement

Conflict case

Ostend Airport

BE_OostedeThe Oostende SA study area (SA) in Belgium comprises five communes of the Oostende Arrondissement. They are Bredene, Gistel, Middelkerke, Oostende and Oudenburg. The whole of the Oostende SA lies within the designated coastal zone of Belgium. The study area comprises a core of three communes Bredene, Oostende and Oudenburg and a ring of two communes Gistel and Middelkerke. Oostende SA has a total surface area of 250 km2 and a coast line of roughly 20 km, or nearly a third of the Belgian coastline. Oostende commune (or Oostende Municipality) is the core of the region, where most of the socio-economic activities take place. The main activities are coastal tourism and port industries. The four other communes that form the Oostende SA have strategic location around Oostende Municipality and functionally link to Oostende Municipality in term of economic development and social coherent. They provide roughly 50% of the workers for Oostende Municipality. People from Oostende also come and work in the vicinity communes that make whole region functions as a whole.

Historically, Oostende region is an old seaside resort which developed from a small fishing village formed since the 8th century. During the10th till 14th centuries, the area gradually developed with the building of dykes and filling up ditches to secure life against the disturbing North Sea. The turning point for the area was in the middle of the 15th century, when a harbor was built, which attracted tradesmen and shipments from different parts of Europe, notably Indies and China. At the same time, Oostende port had a strategic position in the religious wars in the 16th century. Until the end of the 17th century, the city was a battle field between the Spanish Empire, the Dutch and the English. The city was rebuilt completely at the beginning of the 18th century and started to flourished. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Oostende was under the management of the Eastern-Indian Company, then ruled by the Napoleon monarchy before became a territory of Holland for a short period. In 1830, Oostende became a part of the new independent Belgium.

During the reigning of King Leopold I, the first king of Belgium, Oostende was connected to Brussels in 1838. Also a ferry service between Oostende and Dover (in the UK) was set up in 1846. King Leopold II had the idea to transfer Oostende into ‘the Queen of the Belgian Coast’ and Oostende became a belle-époque city, known around the world. During the turn of the century, massive renovations took place in the harbour, but the two world wars put an end at the development of Oostende. After the Second World War, Oostende began a transformation into a modern coastal city. Old buildings have to make room for new apartment blocks and new projects are set up: the town hall, the postal office and the casino. The highway reaches the edge of the city centre, and the elite tourists from the past had to make place for mass tourism.