Gummer wrong on Paris planning

While John Gummer (Planning Comment October 19th) rightly praises the role planning has played in moving London forward through a series of 'grand projects' he is wrong to argue that 'planners in Paris could never have pulled them off.'

In a recent study tour to Paris our TEN Group found out how in Paris Rive Gauche the railway tracks into the Gare de’Austerlitz have been built over to create a mixed use development that outstrips anything in London.

Similarly in Plain Commun St Denis to the North of Paris, new offices adjoining the French national stadium beyond the Peripherique ring road are helping to finance new housing, most of it ‘rent to buy’. Eight local authorities have pooled their planning teams under a single director.

The RER already criss-crosses Paris, high speed connections are open to all the French provincial cities, and no less than eight new tramlines are under construction connecting up poorer suburbs with jobs and services.
French strategic planning in Greater Paris (the Ile de France) is still alive and well, backed up by the use of the Societe Mixte to mobilise investment in infrastructure. New light rail projects are  supported by a charge on employer payrolls, the Versement Transport, while poorer areas can tap into the French state infrastructure bank the Caisse des Depots.

The whole process seems more predictable, and possibly much less costly than the British ‘stop go’ system, and a proper comparison could help us use limited resources much more effectively.

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