Paris 'on brink of ossification'

22nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - Parisians are spoilt conservatives who prefer to live in a decaying museum than confront the French capital's pressing problems such as depopulation, unemployment and a widening gap between rich and poor, the daily newspaper Le Monde said Wednesday.

PARIS, Sept 22 (AFP) - Parisians are spoilt conservatives who prefer to live in a decaying museum than confront the French capital's pressing problems such as depopulation, unemployment and a widening gap between rich and poor, the daily newspaper Le Monde said Wednesday.  

The paper was reacting to the results of a survey which show that a clear majority of the city's two million inhabitants oppose high-rise construction, and believe the protection of old buildings and the creation of parks is more important than promoting economic activity.  

"At a time when Paris is losing both inhabitants and jobs ... when innovative businesses are leaving for the suburbs, when in short the capital is on the brink of ossification, its residents have revealed themselves to be highly conservative," Le Monde said.  

Some 120,000 households replied to questions sent out by city authorities in May to determine public attitudes to architecture, the environment and transport ahead of a new multi-year planning policy to be drawn up next year.  

Despite support from Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe to end a 30-year ban on buildings higher than 37 metres (120 feet), some 62 percent of residents were opposed to tower-blocks, even in exceptional cases. Only the youngest age bracket -- between 18 and 24 -- was marginally in favour.  

More encouragingly for the mayor, an overwhelming majority - 82 percent - want to continue measures to restrict car traffic, including more dedicated bus lanes, cycle paths and an extension of a planned tramway in southern Paris.  

Opinions were predictably divided over Delanoe's policy of promoting social housing in affluent areas of the centre and west of the capital. The mayor hopes to reinforce the measure by obliging developers to devote 25 percent of every major project there to low-cost accommodation.  

Overall, 71 percent of Parisians agreed, ranging from 80 percent in poor areas of the east to as low as 46 percent in the rich 16th arrondissement, or district, where the policy has already been tried out.  

Most of those questioned believed creating more parks was the top planning priority, ahead of child care facilities, homes and sports areas. New business units to promote economic activity were seen as important by only 40 percent.  

The vast majority also called for measures to protect old buildings, and for the use of top-quality materials for future construction.  

Le Monde said the priorities of the Paris public were badly skewed.  

"If it doesn't want to become ... a museum; if it doesn't want to become embalmed Amelie Poulain-style, the capital has to move, get younger and livelier," it said.  

"It must shake off its rigid planning rules and a style of architecture that is more and more like a nostalgic pastiche."  

The 2001 hit film "Amelie" was accused by some critics of portraying an air-brushed Paris with little bearing on reality.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article