The Governance of Land Use in France

Case studies of Clermont-Ferrand and Nantes Saint-Nazaire

image of The Governance of Land Use in France

This report examines how land is governed in France. It describes the laws, policies and practices that shape spatial and land-use planning in the country as a whole, and provides a detailed assessment of specific governance arrangements and practices in two metropolitan areas: Clermont-Ferrand, a mid-range urban agglomeration in south-central France; and Nantes Saint-Nazaire, the 6th largest urban agglomeration in the country, located in the north-west. These case studies highlight the trends and challenges faced in each region—such as the need to protect fragile environments from growing peri-urbanisation—and the unique approaches that have been adopted to manage land-use issues across a large number of communes. The report offers recommendations on how to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of the spatial planning system in order to ensure that land is used in an effective and sustainable way.

English French


Executive summary

The state’s role in land-use planning in France has decreased in recent decades and competencies have been devolved to subnational governments. The national government sets the legal framework concerning land-use planning along with environmental and other related policies and plays a central role in planning and financing infrastructure projects, but it does not establish a national spatial plan. Regions prepare a general strategic plan that outlines their policy priorities and develop a spatial vision for the region. They also influence land-use decisions through the planning and financing of large-scale infrastructure projects. The départements, a level of government between regions and communes (i.e. municipalities), does not have any formal role in the field of land-use planning. Communes or intercommunalités (joint municipal associations) develop local land-use plans and approve building permits—they are thus critical actors when it comes to implementation.

English French

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