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Conseil Régional du Nord Pas-de-Calais, France. Thomas Werquin. IFRESI and Agence de Développement et d'Urbanisme, Lille, France. 1. Introduction.


★ Frank Moulaert IFRESI and University of Lille I, France

Elodie Salin Conseil Régional du Nord Pas-de-Calais, France

Thomas Werquin IFRESI and Agence de Développement et d’Urbanisme, Lille, France

Abstract Has large-scale urban regeneration in general and Euralille in particular affected the social and economic harmony of the Lille Metropolis, the largest northern agglomeration of France? To answer this question, the impact of large-scale urban development projects on real estate, housing and job markets is evaluated. It is found that Euralille plays in the first instance an emblematic role in the economic development and social reconstruction of the Lille community. Its impact on socio-economic ‘re-zoning’ of the metropolis is however far from just symbolic. It has set the trend to a new type of

1. Introduction From the end of the 1960s the Nord Pas-de-Calais Region was badly affected by the structural crisis of traditional industries such as coal mining, steel, metal transformation and textiles. Given its sectoral specialization, Lille–Roubaix–Tourcoing, the principal agglomeration of the region, lost tens of thousands of jobs. More than half of this loss was compensated by the creation of service jobs, but unemployment kept increasing and abandoned manufacturing sites continued to mushroom on the urban map. The challenges for urban redevelopment were massive: job creation, education and training, physical (re)development of urban space to receive European Urban and Regional Studies 8(2): 145–160 0969-7764[200104]8:2; 145–160;018027

corporate estates, it has disturbed the construction cycle of new offices in other parts of the urban region, and it has taken the lead in the creation of a ‘middle-market’ retail system attracting customers from far beyond the Lille agglomeration to its shopping arcades. Moreover, together with other downtown real estate initiatives, it has fuelled the displacement of lower-income housing to cheaper areas of the Metropolis. KEY WORDS ★ Lille ★ real estate market ★ social polarization ★ urban restructuring

new activities and functions, attraction of new industries, and neighbourhood revitalization. Local authorities had only limited competence to deal with these challenges. If traditionally municipalities in France had some economic policy power, still the financial funds had to come first from the central state and later, as of the regional decentralization in the 1980s, from both the central and the regional state. Specific tools for improving the efficacy of local action were developed: the APIM (Agence de Promotion Industrielle pour la Métropole lilloise)1 for co-ordinating investment policy, and the Contrat d’Agglomération. Along with the development of new tools and institutional frameworks, views of development changed. In Lille–Roubaix–Tourcoing, a transformation from a scattered renovation of Copyright © 2001 SAGE Publications London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi



abandoned manufacturing sites to a more integrated service-economy led policy took place. This development went along with a difficult shift in decision-making power from the municipalities to the reorganized APIM and the ‘Lille Métropole Communauté Urbaine’, or Lille Metropolis as it is called today. Friction with other institutions such as SOREX (Société Régionale d’Expansion Métropole Nord) and the inter-municipal SEMs (Société d’Economie Mixte) remain, however. Moreover, ultimate political power rests with the municipalities constituting the ‘Métropole du Nord’. Given their large number, differing views of socio-economic priorities, and party-political differences, many problems for concerted action remain. If some progress has been made in integrating economic agendas and spatial planning logic, today’s policymaking remains quite removed from the integration of economic and social policy logic. In the light of growing poverty and social inequality, this integration may become the most important challenge for the years ahead. In such a context, the creation of an important urban redevelopment project such as Euralille in the centre of Lille fits the service-sector led policy in the Lille Metropolis. Local authorities have portrayed Euralille as an important factor of the new social and economic policy for the Metropolis. The creation of this trade and service centre is believed to have a significant impact on economic dynamics. It is essential to analyse the political, social and economic consequences of Euralille for the urban community, and especially the mechanisms of social, economic and political exclusion/integration generated by this project. There is a growing belief that this urban policy of ‘grand’ projects (‘new’ urban policy in fact based on old recipes of infrastructure construction, meant to encourage private investment in advanced producer services and high-technology industries) has a strong polarizing effect on urban society and economy, and that it should be replaced by a more socially oriented or a better integrated multi-sector policy (Moulaert et al., 2000). This article examines the main tendencies of economy and society in the Lille Metropolis over the last 40 years, especially in relationship to the Euralille project. The next section focuses on the main features of the socio-economic crisis and polarization in the metropolis and its region. European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

Section 3 presents the Euralille project, its policy context and its various components. Section 4 elaborates the consequences of the Euralille project for employment and situates it in the overall dynamics of real estate markets in the Lille Metropolis. The final section evaluates the relevance of large-scale urban development projects of the Euralille type for the development of the Lille Metropolis.

2. Socio-economic and urban crisis in the Lille Metropolis Lille–Roubaix–Tourcoing in its regional context Lille is the capital of the northern French Nord Pasde-Calais Region bordering Belgium. It is the main municipality of the urban region, the Métropole du Nord or the agglomeration of Lille–Roubaix– Tourcoing (Loréal et al., 1996). There are several institutional-spatial definitions of this agglomeration (Bruyelle, 1991). The Métropole du Nord covers an urban entity with variable boundaries: the central agglomeration of Lille, that is the 60 communes clustered at Lille, Roubaix and Tourcoing (according to INSEE’s 1990 definition); the 87 (86 today) communes of the LMCU (Lille Métropole Communauté Urbaine); the 125 communes of the Arrondissement de Lille; or the 100 communes that constitute the employment zone of Lille, as defined by INSEE on the basis of the intensity of the commuting flows. In 1973, INSEE divided Nord Pas-de-Calais into 15 ‘A’ zones, each subdivided into ‘B’ zones. The Arrondissement de Lille consists of two A zones: Lille, and Roubaix–Tourcoing. Roubaix–Tourcoing contains the two northern B zones of the arrondissement, Lille the other six B zones. These zones are also called employment zones or travel-towork areas. The Lille Metropolis is located closer to the Belgian cities Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent than to most of the major French cities. Its geographical position makes it a gateway to Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and indirectly also to Germany. With 1.2 million inhabitants in 1999 (30,000 more than in 1990), the Arrondissement de


Lille represents the fourth largest agglomeration of France, and the largest north of Paris. The proximity to Belgian cities is gradually transforming from a symbolic value into effective economic relationships that have intensified as a consequence of overall European economic integration, but also because of the privileged position of Lille–Roubaix–Tourcoing in the transportation networks of northern Europe. Its nodal position in the high-speed train (TGV) networks and the innovative investment strategies of public and private agents have promoted the integration of the agglomeration in the northern European economy. The Lille Metropolis consists of numerous cities and municipalities with different characteristics, whose urban fabric has been progressively reshaped during the 20th century (Loréal and Van Staeyen, 1995). Lille, the main city, grew considerably in the 19th century, thanks to the development of the linen and cotton industry. Confined by narrow administrative boundaries, in 1999 it had only 184,000 inhabitants (compared to 445,000 for Lyons and 798,000 for Marseilles). The development of the cities of Roubaix and Tourcoing came later, at the end of the 19th century, and was more radical. Within a few decades, these two villages became manufacturing towns, specializing in the wool industry. Today, they have just under 100,000 inhabitants each. Villeneuve d’Ascq is the fourth major urban centre in the agglomeration. It was created in 1970 by a decision of the state (Laborie et al., 1985). Its population is about 65,000. Most of the metropolitan universities were established in Villeneuve d’Ascq. The other communes of the agglomeration are either juxtaposed or very near to these four main urban centres (CEDRE, 1992). Within this complex conurbation, one must distinguish clearly between the towns situated around Roubaix and Tourcoing, backing onto the Belgian frontier, burdened by a traditional industrial heritage, and the rest of the agglomeration, which has benefited more from recent economic and urban evolution.2



Nord Pas-de-Calais as a whole. The growth of the active population in Nord Pas-de-Calais has not been matched by job creation. Out-migration and lower in-migration took place, but unemployment kept rising and in 1994 it reached 16.3 percent against 12.7 percent in the country as a whole. In this region, the loss of industrial employment was higher than in France generally because of the closing of the coal mines and the restructuring of traditional manufacturing activities. Between 1975 and 1992 manufacturing, including construction and public works, shed 25 percent of its jobs in France, and 41 percent in Nord Pas-de-Calais. The Lille Metropolis actually began de-industrializing in the 1960s when manufacturing employment was still growing in France as a whole (Bruyelle, 1991). According to Battiau (1995), industrial decline changed the equilibrium in the various regional travel-to-work areas, and transformed the industrial geography of the region completely. In the Lille Metropolis two tendencies became visible: a declining share of manufacturing employment in zone A Lille, and diversification of the manufacturing structure in zone A Roubaix–Tourcoing. Textiles represented twothirds of manufacturing employment in 1962; by the 1990s its share had dropped to less than one-third. In 1962 manufacturing was the most important sector in zone A Lille, but services were already developing strongly (Table 1). The most important activities were textiles, but also mechanical engineering, agro-food, construction, clothing and personal services. Table 1 Salaried employment in large enterprises in Lille (zone A)

Manufacturing Construction Trade Services Total




77,000 7,700 2,900 10,200 97,800

68,900 10,900 10,500 25,100 115,400

26,600 5,200 10,700 37,200 79,600

Source: INSEE (1997b).

Industrial decline and the rise of services The restructuring of the Lille Metropolis should be seen within the context of the economic crisis of the

The expansion of service activities and the crisis in the clothing industry gave zone A Lille the status of main employment area in the Region. Until 1977, employment grew in construction, services and trade. After 1977, Lille started losing jobs, especially European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



in manufacturing. The clothing industry lost almost 16,000 jobs between 1978 and 1994. Because of the end of large-scale building programmes in the new town Villeneuve d’Ascq, employment in the construction sector fell by half. Wholesale trade lost importance in comparison with retail trade. The rise of the service economy is probably the most significant structural transformation of recent years in the Nord Pas-de-Calais (Gallouj, 1993). Some 350,000 service sector jobs were created between 1962 and 1992, whereas manufacturing lost about 300,000 jobs in the same period (Battiau, 1995). This shift to services should be put in a wider context, however. On the one hand, the service sector remains insufficiently developed in this region, which maintains a primarily manufacturing character: in 1990 it held only 5.7 percent of the nation’s service jobs, less than the regional population share (7 percent) or the share in the national product (5.9 percent). Moreover, analysis of the service sector shows some of its structural weaknesses: trade and non-market services are overrepresented in the region, whereas market services in general and business services in particular do not attain the national shares. The structural weakness of business services holds both for services within manufacturing and freestanding service providers (Gallouj, 1993; Moulaert et al., 2001). As pointed out by Moulaert and Farcy (1995), referring to advanced producer services, the deficit of the Lille Metropolis is reinforced by the disequilibrium between Lille and Roubaix–Tourcoing. For more than half a century, Roubaix–Tourcoing benefited from a long growth phase, thanks to the development of local textile factories. However, Roubaix–Tourcoing has attracted fewer office activities than Lille, which is better located with respect to communication networks, advanced trade and other service activities (see Table 2).

The spatially differentiated growth of business and financial services can also be measured by looking at data on office construction and marketing. In the Lille Metropolis, the construction of offices by firms and public administration to satisfy their own needs amounted to 179,000 m2 between 1980 and 1987. Specialized real estate developers constructed 280,700 m2 of offices between 1979 and 1989. In 1989, the Lille Metropolis had 58 percent of the regional office supply. The spatial division of office construction within the metropolis is quite uneven. The city of Lille is the most attractive, especially in the centre and in the neighbourhood of the railway stations. Villeneuve d’Ascq is the second most important attraction pole, with activity zones considered to be functional, varied and accessible through a reasonable transport infrastructure. The third important concentration of office space consists of the Grands Boulevards between Lille and Roubaix–Tourcoing and their surroundings. This division has remained practically unchanged over recent years (see Figure 1). The Lille Metropolis offers offices at significantly lower rents than in Brussels or Paris. This was one of the reasons for launching the Euralille project, which was supposed to attract external service investors to Lille.

High unemployment, severe spatial disparities A total of 23 percent of job seekers (60,000 people) in the Region are younger than 25 years old. The areas proportionately most severely affected by youth unemployment are Saint-Omer and the rural areas of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Least affected are Lille Metropolis and the south of the Region. More than 40 percent of the unemployed in the

Table 2 Business and financial services employment in zones Lille and Roubaix–Tourcoing

Roubaix–Tourcoing Lille Region




Regional ratio 1990

5,800 13,800 48,560

8,100 20,700 69,953

+ 2,300 + 6,900 + 21,393

11.6 29.5 100.0

Source: RGP Census (1990). European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

No./1,000 inhabitants 19.7 27.9 17.6




Figure 1 Offices in the Lille Metropolis Sources: Werquin (1998); CCI (1998).

Region have been out of work for more than one year, and 20 percent for more than two years. The geographical distribution of long-term unemployment is strongly correlated with the unemployment rate, which means that in many cases high unemployment produces social exclusion. In the Metropolis, the unemployment level reached 15.5 percent in 1997, 3.3 percent above the national rate and 0.8 percent below the regional average (Observatoire de l’emploi et de l’exclusion, 1998). Differences in unemployment rates between zones of the Lille Metropolis are very significant. Within the city of Lille, five districts have an unemployment rate higher than the average (Wazemmes, Lille-Sud, Moulins, Faubourg de Béthune and Fives) (see Figure 2). In a few districts the unemployment rate is clearly below the average for the city. This is the case for Centre and Vauban Esquermes, but also for the central districts 1 and 5, as well as St Maurice Pellevoisin and Hellemmes.

Socio-spatial segregation Spatial disparities A number of studies have shed light on the social differences between neighbourhoods in the Lille

Metropolis (e.g. INSEE, 1996). Vervaeke and Lefebvre (1997) interpreted INSEE data concerning the socio-professional character of the 86 municipalities of the Metropolis. The results of this exercise are summarized in Figure 3, a map dividing the Metropolis into zones: (blue collar) working class, white-collar and managerial. Immigration The rise of the Front National in Roubaix–Tourcoing at the 1995 elections made tensions between ethnic groups even more evident than before (Cole, 1996). A manufacturing metropolis located in a border area, the Lille urban region had a tradition of foreign immigration, especially in the 19th century when 40 percent of the population in Lille and Roubaix were of Belgian origin (Bruyelle, 1991: 33). Since 1959 migrant workers from outside western Europe have replaced these frontaliers who, after the devaluation of the franc and the start of the policy of industrial location in Belgium, left the northern French labour market. Workers from the Maghreb, and later Portuguese and Black Africans, occupied less attractive jobs. In the 1970s, the textile sector in the region had to defy fierce competition from lowerincome countries. Employers responded by hiring European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



Vieux-Lille V ieu x - Lille

St. Maurice

S t Mau r ice Pellevoisin P ellev o isin

Centre Cen tr e Fbg Béthune F b g de d e Béth une V au b an Esquermes Esq u er m es Vauban

D istr ict 55 District

Fives F iv es District D istr ict11

Wazemmes W azem m es

Hellemmes H ellem m es

Moulins Mo u lin s

Lille-Sud LilleSu d

de 5 à 10% de 10 à 15% de 15 à 20% 20% e t plus

Figure 2 Unemployment as % of the active labour force by district in the municipality of Lille, 1990 Sources: Baart and Kruythoff (1998); RGP Census (1990).

Figure 3 The zones of the Lille Metropolis according to professional groups Sources: Vervaeke and Lefebvre (1997); RGP Census (1990). European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



V ieu x - L ille Vieux-Lille


SSt. t Maurice Mau r ice PPellevoisin ellev o isin

Centre Cen tr e Béthune FFbg b g dde e Béth une

D istr ict 55 District FFives iv es

V au b anEsquermes E sq u er m es Vauban

H ellem m es Hellemmes

D istr ict 1 1 District

Wazemmes W azem m es

Moulins Mo u lin s

LLille-Sud ille- S u d

de 0 à 5% de 5 à 10% de 10 à 15 % pl u s de 15%

Figure 4 Non-French born by district in the municipality of Lille, 1990 (%) Sources: Baart and Kruythoff (1998); RGP Census (1990).

low-skilled and low-paid workers instead of upgrading jobs or modernizing production. In 1990, 10 percent of the inhabitants of Lille Metropolis were non-French. Of the total of 155,800 French inhabitants in the city of Lille, 97 percent were French-born and 2.7 percent had acquired French nationality. Of the total population in the city, 9.5 percent were of foreign nationality. The majority (83 percent) of non-French originate from outside the EU. In the districts of Wazemmes, Moulins and Lille-Sud the percentage of nonFrench is above average; to a lesser extent this is the case in Fives as well (see Figure 4).

3.The new urban policy and the place of Euralille Early public policy reactions to the socio-economic crisis in the Métropole du Nord were very traditional in style. Re-industrialization initiatives suffered from incoherence between various agencies and the absence of a common development strategy.

In the mid-1980s the Lille Metropolis started a policy of economic renewal, based on the principles adopted by the majority of large French cities: accessibility, attractiveness and the establishment of strongly integrated development poles. City and regional governments became especially concerned with competitiveness and image building: ‘The objective is to organize urban space to grant the city a better place in the competitive system’ (Bourdin, 1998: 28). In the case of Lille, the Channel Tunnel and the TGV London–Paris are at the heart of urban policy. The Lille Metropolis is in the middle of a European network of large-scale transport infrastructures. In 1987 the Nord and the Pas-de-Calais Departments became active within the Lille-Gare-TGV association. The association convinced the SNCF (the national railway company) and central government to let the link between the TGV network and the Channel Tunnel pass through Lille instead of the Picardy region. Political and economic decision-makers collaborated to enable the Lille agglomeration to benefit from the TGV network linking the Channel Tunnel and the north of European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



Europe. This association was successful because it united a large and representative coalition. The ‘Peyrelade mission’ managed to convince the SNCF to construct a TGV station in the centre of the city, in return for meeting the additional FF 800m cost of the City Centre Passage. This mobilization of local actors around such a project generated the momentum for the first discussions anticipating the creation of a large-scale business centre, which would later be called Euralille. Euralille drew its inspiration from the ‘Centre Directionnel’ project developed at the end of the 1960s. This was the period of the ‘Métropoles d’Equilibre’ policy, intended to remove part of the growth pressure from Paris. In the Nord Pas-deCalais, this policy targeted in the first place the Lille Metropolis, to provide the region with a real dynamic urban centre leading the conversion process of traditional industries. The aim was to build a 500,000 m2 service centre in Lille, connected by two railway stations (Joignaux, 1997). The scale of the Centre Directionnel project was dramatically reduced over the years. Only 30,000 m2 were built in the vicinity of the St-Sauveur station. The initiative failed because of the competition from the new town Villeneuve d’Ascq, the lack of funds and the gap between the ambition of the project and the objective needs of the social and economic structures of the Nord Pas-de-Calais in that period (Moulaert et al., 1993). Officially speaking, Euralille is considered as a new neighbourhood. This standpoint can be defended if a restrictive definition of neighbourhood (referring to economic functions only) is maintained. But if one utilizes a multi-dimensional definition of neighbourhood, including housing for the local population, local culture, conviviality, and integration of economic with non-economic functions, then it is more realistic to consider Euralille as a complex of economic functions, rather than a neighbourhood. Table 3 shows the chronology of the project. The transportation infrastructure built within the context of Euralille included the east ring of Lille (inaugurated in 1999), the Lille-Europe TGV station (1993), the subway station Euralille (1994), the tramway station Lille Flandres, and the Le Corbusier bridge (1994). Euralille also includes 57,000 m2 of office space; a trade centre with 140 shops, and parking space for 2,900 cars; housing; an European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

hotel; an exhibition and conference space; and La Passerelle, a pluralist, multi-religious arena run by the Catholic and Reformed Church of Lille. Euralille widely speaking also includes Lille Grand Palais, consisting of three sections: a festival hall with a capacity of 7,000 people, a huge modular exhibition space (18,000 m2) and three amphitheatres with complementary infrastructure. This multi-functional complex can hardly be considered as a new neighbourhood, but it fills important gaps in the complex of economic functions that a regional metropolis is expected to fulfil. At the same time, it has shaken the fragile socio-economic equilibrium of this one-time manufacturing capital, as we will see in the next section.

4. Socio-economic consequences of the Euralille project Employment creation or dislocation? In this section, we compare the expected objectives in terms of job creation by the project promoters with the actual outcomes. According to SAEM Euralille, 5,000 jobs should have been created: 1,000 in the trade centre and 4,000 in new offices by the end of 1995. The actual employment data for the commercial part of Euralille (shops and related services) are quite near the mark. At the end of 1994, some 1,196 people were employed in the trade centre (410 in the supermarket, 700 in the 129 shops and related services, and 86 in the subcontracting firms in charge of cleaning and security). In 1998, a total of 1,070 people had a job in the 125 shops located in the shopping arcade, 84 percent of them being newly created. Most of the jobs were white-collar or managerial and 40 percent were full-time, that is 39 hours a week. Sale figures for shop space confirm this outcome. By the end of 1995, some 54,600 m2 had been sold, that is 87 percent of the available space. Interviews with the shops show that new openings are dominant and represent more than 78 percent of all shop openings in Euralille. In contrast, however, employment in new service activities is poor. Of the 38 firms interviewed by the Chamber of Commerce in 1997 (CCI, 1997), only




Table 3 Chronology of the Euralille project 1988

Feasibility studies


Creation of the SAEM (Société Anonyme d’Economie Mixte) Euralille with a capital of FF 50m (50.9% public and 49.1% private sector) Start of preparatory works

February 1992 July 1993

Start of infrastructure works Creation of the cercle des usagers (users’ group) The TGV line Lille–Paris becomes operational

1994 May

Entry into service of the new TGV station Lille-Europe and of the subway station Euralille Entry into service of the link towards Lyon and the south of France June Entry into service of the Congress and Exhibition Centre September Entry into service of the Trade Centre Euralille and of the tramway station Lille Flandres November Entry into service of the Zénith; of the TGV Eurostar; of the link to the Roissy–Charles de Gaulle airport 1995 January February March December

The Tour du Crédit Lyonnais completed Subway line two becomes operational Lilleurope Tower completed The Hauts du Romarin completed

1999–2000 Delivery of 260 housing units at Boulevard Carnot and in the Romarin sector 2000–2010 Romarin sector: 10,000 m2 of office space and a 2–3-star hotel with 80 rooms Cité des affaires: 12,000 m2 of office space (scheduled for 2002) and a 4-star hotel with 124 rooms Saint Maurice: 17,000 m2 of office space (scheduled for 2002–2003) Euralille 2 (south sector): Central administration Région Nord Pas-de-Calais (50,000 m2 for 2004) Extension of exhibition space in Lille Grand Palais (15,000 m2 for 2004) 37,000 m2 of office space and 800 housing units

14 (or less than 37 percent) are new office locations. Comparing the 1994 data, which suggest that 115 new jobs were created, to the original forecast, it becomes clear that the target is far from being achieved. This can be explained first by the slow turnover of offices (66,100 m2 were planned in the first stage but only 24,500 m2 sold or rented). However, assuming one job per 20 m2, a net creation of 1,225 jobs should have been reached. The different programmes represent a total supply of office space of 57,000 m2. As is shown in Table 4, the occupation rates of office space increased between 1996 and 2000. As of mid-1999 the Atrium and the Crédit Lyonnais showed the most positive outcomes with occupation rates of close to 100 percent. However, the Lilleurope Tower remained only partly occupied, with only 40 percent of the space allocated in 1998. In the end, the

shareholders occupied the tower themselves, pushing the occupation rate up to an artificially high 70 percent in 1999 (and 100 percent in 2000). The main objective of Euralille was to attract international firms. Up-market offices were offered, intended to meet international quality norms at prices higher than the average for the Metropolis (in 1995 the average rental price reached FF 1,060 per m2 in Euralille against FF 900 in downtown Lille). The uptake by international firms did not meet expectations, however. In 1997, the Chamber of Commerce registered 36 service firms on the Euralille site, including 16 of foreign origin, mainly of small size. Employment on the Euralille site is not only the result of job creation, but also of job transfer. Some shops, and most of the service firms, have in fact relocated their activity from an existing location to European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



Table 4 Office space on the Euralille site Available from Crédit Lyonnais Lilleurope Tower Atrium Portes du Romarin

Jan 1995 March 1995 Sept 1994 1994–95

Tour Eurocity

Sept 1994

Office space, m2

Rent price m2/year, 1996

Occupation rate 1996 (%)

Occupation rate 1997 (%)

Occupation rate 1999 (%)

14,600 25,100 7,000 4,150

FF 990 FF 1,150 FF 1,050 n.a.

45 0 95 88

64 16 80 88


FF 980



100 72 96 Immeuble des Mutuelles du Mans: 100 Hauts du Romarin: 87 73

Sources: ADU (1996); CCI-LRT (1997).

Euralille. These dislocations increase the internal disequilibrium of the Metropolis and of the whole urban region. There are no precise data on employment transfers for the shops located in the trade centre, but data on the employment transfers for offices are available (see Figure 5). The neighbourhoods that have suffered most from employment transfers to Euralille offices are the centre of Lille and Vieux Lille. However, new users have quickly occupied the vacated space. Data on the place of residence of people working in the shopping arcade suggest that they come mainly from the Lille travel-to-work area. In 1998, only 14 percent of workers commuted from outside the urban region: 12 percent from the broader region and 2 percent from elsewhere. In this way, the objectives of the promoters of the project to create employment for the local population in retail trade were largely achieved.

Trade and the real estate market Euralille is part of a strategy to increase the status and the socio-economic vigour of the Metropolis and of the Region. Opinions vary on the extent of Euralille’s impact. Some believe that the project by itself has been a real stimulus to the local economy. Others consider it as an emblematic project, but with a limited impact of its own. We argue here that there is no doubt about the emblematic role of Euralille and that, in addition, it has had a significant impact on the working of the real estate market and on retail trade. Relocation and a new segmentation of office and housing markets and retail trade zones in the Metropolis can be observed. Moreover, Euralille has impacted on the planning of new real estate developments.


Lille-Centre 209





Nord 4

Figure 5 Employment transfers to Euralille offices European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)


Paris Etranger




Table 5 Housing in Euralille

Programmes Citadines (4,700 m2) Studiantes (4,800 m2) Le Corbusier (6,400 m2) Les Hauts du Romarin

No. and type 143 (1 and 2 rooms) 198 (1 room) 168 apts (1–4 rooms) 96 apts (1–4 rooms)

Operator SOFAP Marignan immobilier SERGIC SOFAP Hainaut Immobilier

Rental price (FF/m2)

Sale price (FF/m2)


15,300 10,500


Real estate markets

Since the mid-1980s, supermarkets and hypermarkets have grown rapidly in France, leading to a reorganization of urban commercial space. The Lille Metropolis has not escaped this trend. Retail trade shed 26 percent of its jobs between 1984 and 1994 (ADU). Nevertheless, downtown Lille has been less affected than the urban periphery or the rest of the region. Moreover, Euralille has reinforced the attractiveness of the downtown area for the population of Lille at the expense of the near-suburbs and the three main cities of the region (CCI-LRT, 1996). Euralille acts as a magnet to consumers living up to about 2 to 3 km from the downtown area and restrains the flow of clients to suburban and peripheral retail trade centres. The new shops in the hypermarket also nourish retail trade in Lille and in the commercial part of Euralille that has become a major pole of attraction for northern French and Belgian customers (ADU 1998). The creation of the retail business centre of Euralille also led to the redistribution of commercial spaces in the city itself. Lille is now divided into specific zones: an up-market zone (Vieux-Lille), a zone for entertainment and culture (Grand-Place and the pedestrian area), a middle-market zone (shopping arcades) and a lower-end market zone (rue Faidherbe). Moreover, it appears that the type of Euralille customer has changed. This is also reflected by the evolution of the type of shops located in the main Euralille shopping arcade. The site is increasingly attracting ‘discount’ shops and more up-market shops have disappeared. The shopping arcade increasingly attracts young clients coming from the urban periphery. Instead of an international shop window, Euralille has become an attraction pole for young customers and a service centre for the ‘less than higher middle-class’ customer profile.

Most developers had anticipated the construction of Euralille and since 1993, the year before the first office space in Euralille became available, practically no new office construction projects have been launched. The level of available stock of new office space exploded between 1994 and 1995 for two main reasons. First, Euralille and other offices planned earlier became available. Second, Lille shared in the national and European real estate market crisis that reached its heights in 1994 (Werquin, 1998). Firms became more cost conscious, preferring cheaper solutions such as re-using older office space. This sector of ‘old’ offices represented more than 60 percent of the total office transactions in 1995 against 55 percent in 1994 (CCI-LRT). The failure of the real estate marketing of Euralille does not mean that the ‘Euralille strategy’ failed as a whole. According to Werquin (1998), a net increase in office occupation can be observed for the whole of the metropolitan area. Euralille did not attract many firms on its own site, but boosted the attraction of the whole Metropolis. Euralille did not manage to attract headquarters of multinationals; but several firms came to the Metropolis, mainly outside Euralille. In 2000 vacant office stock did not match demand. In the short run, the Metropolis cannot host a significant number of new service firms. Housing One of the objectives of Euralille was to satisfy rising local housing demand by constructing new units. In a local context of low-quality housing and of a generally old housing stock, the supply of new houses had to be adjusted to growing private demand for up-market housing. Despite average housing prices that are higher than those in other parts of the metropolitan area, the marketing of Euralille housing was successful. This suggests that the construction European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



reflected and satisfied a real need (Table 5). Euralille does not however offer a solution to the urgent need for decent housing for lower-income classes.

Disintegration of working-class neighbourhoods and out-migration Vervaeke and Lefebvre (1997) analysed the sociospatial redistribution of the agglomeration in the 1980s. They identified two main changes: a migration of white-collar workers to the northern suburbs and a blue-collar migration to the southern suburbs. The new urban policy pursued by local authorities, in which Euralille plays a key role, is partly responsible for these developments. The renewal of Wazemmes and Moulins – both blue-collar areas located in the south of Lille – reflects the urban strategy pursued following the restructuring in the 1980s of the Vieux-Lille area. For instance, the plan ‘University 2000’ led to the location of the Law Faculty of the University of Lille II in Moulins. As part of this project, the Municipality of Lille created a commission to encourage local participation in the decision-making process. As is often the case in such projects, participation was not pursued very actively or effectively. The project appeared to favour the interests of the students at the expense of the wellbeing of local inhabitants. In addition, the relocation of the Law Faculty provided a series of opportunities for landlords. Instead of being let as large apartments for families, many houses were subdivided into studio apartments and rented out to students at considerably higher rents. The growing housing demands and problems of tenants facing increased rents or expulsion posed serious problems for the APU (Atelier Populaire d’Urbanisme) in Vieux-Lille and led to the creation of the APU Moulins. Local inhabitants were relocated to the suburbs (in social rental housing) or in Lille-Sud. The gentrification of the city of Lille has led to a dislocation of the poorest segment of the population to the south of the city, and low-income households to the suburbs where access to housing is easier. The overall picture is one in which the city of Lille itself experiences the same migration trends as the whole Metropolis: the poorest inhabitants of the VieuxLille, Moulins or Wazemmes areas migrate to European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

suburbs such as Villeneuve d’Ascq and middle-class households migrate to the newly rehabilitated neighbourhoods of Moulins or Wazemmes (see Figure 6).

5.The ambiguous consequences of largescale urban development projects France has a long tradition of urban policies. Until the crisis of the late 1970s these policies were based on the concept of ‘territorial equality’, and they used vertical institutional procedures from which cities could benefit – at least theoretically – in a uniform way. In the early 1980s, the consequences of the crisis, violent upsurges in French suburbs and regionalization, all reinforced a growing awareness of fragmentation in urban space. Even today, local economic and infrastructure policies on the one hand, and urban social policy on the other, lead an almost independent existence. As a consequence, social policy’s main role has been to heal the wounds of economic policy, and especially of large-scale urban development projects that can have devastating consequences for the lived environment and the social fabric. The DSQ (Développement Social des Quartiers) procedure for the social development of neighbourhoods was initiated in 1982. The proclaimed objectives were ambitious: to democratize city administration, equalize the social composition of neighbourhoods, integrate young people in urban society, link social development to local economic development, reattribute an urban value to neighbourhoods, and prevent insecurity. Several neighbourhoods of Roubaix were selected by the state in 1982 as pilot projects for this new procedure. From 1982 to 1993, the procedure was extended to various areas of the Lille Metropolis. The lack of evaluation procedures, the high number of areas involved, and the lack of complementarity with the procedures for economic development at the level of the agglomeration, show the fragility of these actions. Lille-Sud, for example, was considered a failure because of the absence of the local associations in the municipal initiatives (Ginet, 1997: 42) and because of the negative impact of some of the large development projects on the local housing market.




Figure 6 Migration within the agglomeration of Lille and internal migration within the City of Lille Source: After Vervaeke and Lefebvre (1997).

The failure of neighbourhood policies led public authorities towards a more integrated policy, combining a global with a focused approach. Two types of mechanism can be distinguished: devices with a global character, integrating poverty as one of

the key dimensions of the urban question (Contrats de Ville, Grands Projets Urbains); and measures dealing with the question of poverty in a specific way (Béhar and Estèbe, 1995). The most generic procedure put forward by the European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)



Ministère de la Ville and the Délégation Interministérielle à la Ville is the Contrat de Ville (CDV). At the national level, the state no longer seeks to promote inter-municipal co-operation, and is seeking to regain control of local actions. At the local level, local actors became increasingly involved in inter-municipal initiatives within the agglomeration, often co-ordinated by the Agence de Développement et d’Urbanisme (ADU). Quite often the various cities or communes refuse to grant the ADU a federating role as chef de projet. The concept of ‘Ville Renouvelée’, recently integrated into the new development of the Lille Metropolis, expresses a willingness to surmount territorial antagonisms and opens possibilities to define territories with socio-economic restructuring problems (Ginet, 1997). The Grand Projet Urbain (GPU) procedure is more limited in scope than the CDV. It applies to areas with severe difficulties for which a longer intervention by the public sector is needed. In 1994 the Comité Interministériel des Villes selected Roubaix–Tourcoing as a GPU zone for 10 years (Baart and Kruythoff, 1998). The GPU procedure offers explicit opportunities for a better integration of social and economic policy, but the social dimensions of the GPU have often been pushed to backstage. Some observers rightly point out that the GPU policy has meant a return to morphological interventions and caused a setback to the contractual policies and the attempts of the 1980s to unite urban programmes around the theme of combating social exclusion.

6. Conclusions Like social policy, the question of local economic development only (re)emerged in the 1970s with the economic crisis and its spatial consequences on the one hand, and institutional decentralization on the other. In the 1980s the focus of local authorities shifted from emergency help to enterprises, to a policy for improving the entrepreneurial environment (Corolleur and Pecqueur, 1996). The development projects pursued within the Lille Metropolis followed the national tendency. European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

In the middle of the 1980s the metropolitan planning strategy was significantly revised. External factors led to this change: the Channel Tunnel, the TGV and European opportunities drove the Lille Metropolis and the communes to a more unified approach to spatial and economic development (Gachelin, 1992; Pradeilles, 1993). A consensus between local authorities and local firms was reached. A first concrete accomplishment in 1987 was the creation of the Association TGV–Gare de Lille, which mobilized local actors against a decision of the central state and the national railway company to let the TGV line pass outside the agglomeration. This action was successful, and Euralille now houses one of the most important TGV nodes in Europe. Infrastructure works and Grands Projets de la Métropole became the two main agendas of the late 1980s and early 1990s, epitomizing the new global policy of the Lille Metropolis. The Grands Projets de la Métropole – including Euralille – were meant simultaneously to serve the needs of spatial distribution of activities, to reinforce the economic system and to build an image of the Lille Metropolis as the new European metropolis. At the same time a number of infrastructure projects were implemented, transforming Lille over a period of 15 years. It is far from certain that these projects will ease the tensions between the communes, the neighbourhoods and the four main centres of the Metropolis (Lille, Roubaix, Tourcoing and Villeneuve d’Ascq). These projects not only lack relevance for the renaissance of the declining innercity neighbourhoods; they also incorporate potential and effective competition between the main communes. The accomplishment of large development projects meant a political bias towards physical and economic planning approaches. The large-scale urban projects barely transcended the logic of physical planning. There was no real interest in social equity or urban harmony. The social consequences of these actions were nonetheless significant. Among the most prominent that we observe in Euralille are forced out-migration of lower-income families from inner city to peripheral neighbourhoods, fragmentation of the urban fabric, and financial neglect of social agendas. The ‘Ville Renouvelée’ policy launched in Lille in the late


1990s has remained an empty box, because no expertise on integrated urban policy was mobilized and no critical mass for funding such policy has become available.

Notes 1


Renamed in 1989 Agence de Promotion Internationale pour la Métropole lilloise. To simplify presentation, statistical data used in this article were rounded when possible.

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European Urban and Regional Studies 2001 8(2)

Correspondence to: Frank Moulaert, Faculté des Sciences Economiques et Sociales, Université de Lille, Flandre Artois, Bâtiment SH2, F-59655 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex, France. [email: [email protected]] Elodie Salin, Conseil Régional du Nord Pas-deCalais. Thomas Werquin, Agence de Développement et d’Urbanisme, Métropole Lilloise, IFRESI, 2, rue des Canonniers, 59800 Lille, France.

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