Doel is threatened with complete demolition due to the future enlargement of the harbour of Antwerp – Belgium. This has seen many people having to sell their homes to the development corporation of that enlargement. Many historical buildings will be destroyed.
In 1999, residents who wish can be expropriated. May 1, 2003 no longer live in the center of Doel 214 of 645 people who were enrolled at 20 January 1998. Since then, if the number of official population continued to decline, the actual number has gradually increased. This is due to small part by the arrival of new tenants in some homes expropriated and for the most part by the fact that squatters had occupied the vacant buildings. This state of affairs has long been tolerated by the Company owns the vacant houses and by the municipality of Beveren.
In 2006, the media was interested in Doel due to the large number of new squatters. This conspired to spread the idea that Doel had to some extent turned into a lawless area , where you could easily take ownership of a vacant unit , which , in turn , had the effect of attract new squatters and cause a wave of burglaries. On 22 March 2006, the mayor of Beveren announced that police checks have increased in Doel and that zero tolerance is now in force and any illegal activity suppressed. Some squatters however require to regularize their situation.
I visited Doel the first time in 2011 and almost all the houses were empty, except for a few. Often thieves had already passed steal what was portable! The rest of meubilair was destroyed! The windows were all broken, walls tagged, doors ripped off! Pure and simple vandalism committed by whomever!
I went back for the second time in 2013 and it is a real ghost town! All the houses were close by the municipality to prevent squatters and vandalism! There are only facades with works of art.
Some people remain in Doel, the factor still delivers the mail, one bus drop villagersand the only cafe remains open to accommodate people and I fear my next trip to Doel be to discover a huge industrial complex.
“DOEL … moet blijven”