What's next for Grand Paris?

Written by Elena Collins on 19 December 2012

Five years after the launch of the Grand Paris masterplan, measures put in place to improve Greater Paris have draw to a halt due to conflicting interests and government cuts. Leaders in the built environment from the public and private sector met last month in the French capital to discuss how the city can be resilient against the current economic shocks.

In 2007, Grand Paris (or Greater Paris), was an initiative launched by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for "a new global plan for the Paris metropolitan region." It led to a new transportation masterplan for the Paris region and it was used as a tool for economic development in the capital. Jobs were created, houses built and new transport links developed across Paris. Key objectives included improvements in railway infrastructure, the easing of road congestion and steps were taken to control the urban sprawl of the city.

However, since the economic crisis, housing projects have been put on hold, finance support has decreased and major projects such as Seine Confluence as been stopped all together. Sarkozy declared he intended to build 70,000 new homes a year in the region, however this has not been achieved. 

How can the Grand Paris masterplan move forward during these times of austerity?

130 public and private leaders in the built environment from various sectors including development, real estate, energy, innovation and culture, gathered on November 27 for the Cercle Grand Paris de l’Investissement Durable conference. An event organised by Nicolas Buchoud, founding principal of Urbane Renaissance, in partnership with ULI France and Businessimmo, The conference brought to light the urgent issue of how to improve and develop Paris during these difficult economic times.

Opening the conference was a debate on housing and transport in Paris. The Chairman of the Committee of Transport, François Kalfon, wants to avoid Greater Paris becoming a luxury neighbourhood and pushed for an area with the potential to grow economically. Whilst Marc Wiel author of a recent publication on Grand Paris advised on what were the best ways to use land to support transport links. John Rahaim, Director of Planning of the City of San Francisco presented the high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles and ideas were discussed for how something similar could be adopted in the French capital.

Further debates throughout the day included co-operation and infrastructure. Mary Rowe, Director of the Municipal Art Society of New York opened the discussion that it was time of major cities to create new alliances, whilst Brian Kilkelly, founder of World Cities Network, cited the need for leaders in the built environment to come to come together to help the city of Paris in becoming economically resilient during this period of austerity.

Stakeholders concluded that to ensure a transformation across the urban environment there needs to be a green economy and urban renewal to become more environmentally resilient. There was also an agreement that new policies are needed for new infrastructure investments to grow and housing projects can be brought back to life.

Categories: Transport, Housing, Paris