Reviewed by Greg Clark
Paris Region is France’s foremost region, and European leader in a number of sectors. Its economic strength within the European Union is borne out by the fact that in an area of 12,000 sq. km. it represents 2.3% of its population, 4.7 % of its GDP and 6.9 % of public and private R&D expenditure.
In the face of intensified international competition, together with increased difficulties at local level, the public authorities have engaged an ambitious development policy in order to put the French capital’s region on a path of more ambitious but also more sustainable growth.Two complementary plans mark this ambition: the Greater Paris plan and the Paris Region Master Plan.
1. Greater Paris: where do things stand?
The Greater Paris Project, which has enjoyed considerable international media coverage, is defined by the law of 3 June 2010 as “an urban, social and environmental development project of national interest, which unites strategic regional centres across Paris Region through a public transport network.”
The project was launched on 26 June 2007 by the French President during a speech given at Paris Charles de Gaulle international airport. Several initiatives were then conducted from 2007 to 2011: international consultation, voting of the Greater Paris bill, creation of the Greater Paris international workshop and creation of the Greater Paris corporation (SGP). On 26 January 2011, an agreement on the future Grand Paris Express transport network was signed by the French government and the Paris Regional Council. This network forms the keystone of the Greater Paris project, and of the Paris Region public transport system’s transformation. It will facilitate both “suburb to suburb” transportation and access to economic development clusters. This new, totally automated transport network will be 155 km long and will include 57 new stations.
The Greater Paris project also envisages the development of 8 territorial clusters of excellence in the region: Paris Saclay, or the “French Silicon Valley”, Greater Roissy around Paris Charles de Gaulle airport , Confluence Seine Oise linked to the port of Le Havre in Normandy, Paris Biotech Valley, a “creativity site” near the Grand Stade de France sports stadium, Paris La Défense (Europe’s leading business district), Paris – Le Bourget and Paris – Descartes, a sustainable town cluster linked to the Advancity competitiveness cluster. Lastly, in order to act on urban development, for example by building housing around the new train stations, territorial development contracts are signed with the local authorities.
2. Greater Paris is part of the SDRIF, a wider and more ambitious master plan.
The SDRIF (Schéma Directeur de la Région Ile-de-France, or Master Plan for Paris Region), which was adopted on 25 September 2008 by the elected officials of the Paris Regional Council, provides a reference framework for the planning and development of the region. Every aspect of daily life, including housing, services, transport, business, leisure, air quality and natural areas, has been taken into account in order to define the future of the French capital’s region between now and 2030. The idea of constructing a more compact and more polycentric urban region is one of the main themes of the future master plan.Following the agreement reached over Grand Paris Express, the Paris Regional Council now has the task of finalising the SDRIF by the end of December 2013. This regional planning initiative integrates Greater Paris within a wider project which includes transport. By 2030, the ambition is to improve living conditions for Paris Region residents considerably, by intensifying the production of housing (72,000 new units per year), improving the current transport network and adding complementary lines to those of Grand Paris Express, and reducing the most flagrant territorial disparities.
3. Expected benefits for companies:
Greater Paris and the SDRIF will help bring about a radical change in the environment available to companies, and offer an exceptional range of opportunities to international investors:
• A wide range of public markets will open up to companies equipped to help implement these two major projects. For all future calls for tender, including ones which only involve improving the existing network, international companies are of course welcome to bid. There are many markets involved, and with 20 billion euros invested between 2010 and 2025 only in the new totally automated transport network according to SGP figures. The amount spent on the construction work will exceed the amount spent on organising the 2012 London Olympics (11.2 billion euros, according to the British NAO figures). It would be a shame to miss out!
• For companies able to benefit from the positive externalities generated by these development plans: time saved by reduced travel time, more opportunities to do business in the suburbs (easier to access), better quality commuter services for employees, enhanced image.
• For property investors: new urban centres, which bring new investment opportunities; more jobs, meaning more demand for premises; quality buildings (sustainable development); and investment security (Paris offers solid value).
The “New” Paris Region is up and running …
By Vincent Gollain, Chief Economic Development Officer at Paris Region
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Top image credit : Photobank gallery