condense Lyon again and again?

Lyon and the heart of the metropolis are already very densely populated. More than 10,000 inhabitants per km² of territory. New urban elevation projects, large-scale construction sites on urban wastelands such as La Saulaie in Oullins, Grandclément in Villeurbanne, Gerland in Lyon, do they risk making this density undesirable?

Accommodating new residents of Lyon without increasing urban sprawl. This is a puzzle that city planners, architects and local elected officials must solve today. “This is a real topic,” confirms Roelof Verhage, lecturer in urban planning and director of the Institute of Urban Planning in Lyon.

“With a law that promulgates zero net tillage in 2050 and a strong reduction commitment from 2030, it makes it necessary to build where it’s already urbanized.”

Densification of the existing city is needed “in the short term,” admits Raphael Michaud, Lyon’s deputy mayor in charge of city planning. “Lyon is a welcoming city and we want it to stay that way,” he continues, pointing out that it is out of the question to close the door on those who want to come and live between the Rhône and Sona.

And there are many. According to census data released by INSEE in December, between 2008 and 2019, the population in the department and metropolitan area increased by almost 11%, increasing in total from 1,690,498 to 1,875,747 residents. In inner Lyon, the population increased from 483,181 to 529,570 inhabitants, an increase of 9.6%. Even if these numbers are from before the health crisis, the trend will not change overnight.

Urban projects proliferate in the heart of the metropolis where it is still possible: La Saulaie in Oullins, Grandclément in Villeurbanne, Vallon des hopitaux in Saint-Genis-Laval, etc. With the key to thousands of additional residents. For example, in Gerland, where construction work is underway on the ZAC des Girondins and Pup Ginko, the population should increase from 340,000 today to 400,000 in 2025.

The deposits behind the Oullins metro will house new buildings as part of the La Saulaie urban development project, which is to include more than 800 new housing units. ©ED/Rue89Lyon

Poor perceived density

How to make acceptable this density, which often causes fear: fear of traffic jams, crowding, vanishing calm, etc.? ? The proof is now: some residents of the Pernon area, in the 4th arrondissement, are concerned about the future construction of three new apartment buildings.

Local elected officials say they are aware of the trap. Especially in France, which dreams of a garden pavilion and where urban debauchery has shown its limits during the health crisis.

That’s why compaction will be carefully monitored, says Béatrice Vessilier, vice president of metropolitan Lyon in charge of urban planning.

“In these new development operations, operators need to have space between buildings to conserve sunlight. We also think about the size of the housing, so that the apartments have balconies, etc. “.

The metropolitan executive has also repeatedly stated that it wants to primarily densify areas located near TER stations or public transport lines, for example next to the future metro station in Saint-Genis-Laval or near Collonge-aux-Mont-d’Or station.

“We are for density, but for the correct use of density. It shouldn’t be anywhere […]. This should be done where there are shops and services, so that it is well served, so that new residents can get around on foot or by public transport,” the elected official continues.

densify Lyon: BNP-Paribas and Vinci's bubble sales operation at Pup Ginkgo in Gerland.  ©LB/Rue89Lyon
Real estate sales bubble of BNP-Paribas and Vinci at Pup Ginkgo in Gerland. ©LB/Rue89Lyon

Strengthen, not condense Lyon

However, Béatrice Vessilier recalls that elected officials in the capital do not intend to densify everywhere and always: “In ZAC Grandclément, we rather asked for a reduction in the number of housing units offered by developers.”

Instead of densification, some speak in this sense of “intensification”, that is, the achievement of a “city of short distances”:

“The shape of a city where everything is close by, where walks and public transport are important,” explains Roelof Verhage.

In a sense, emphasize what makes cities attractive already today, namely the proximity of goods and services. A select few environmentalists see the beginning of carbon-free living as the automobile gradually gives way to cycling, walking and public transportation.

In the new version of PLU-H, which is currently in the public comment phase, the standards for creating parking spaces for each new building built will, for example, be reduced in accordance with differentiated zoning.

Rebalancing Territorial Development

Revegetation will also be part of a host of actions to make the city more pleasant and better able to cope with climate change, in particular the creation of parks, such as the three-hectare park at Grandclement, and open ground factors to be preserved or created. in new buildings.

In addition, environmentalists have announced in their mandate plan the desire to increase the area of ​​protected natural and agricultural peri-urban lands.

First of all, the CEO has already explained this: he hopes to succeed in the long term in restoring the balance of economic and demographic development across the Lyon metropolitan area, including Saint-Étienne, Roanne, Vienne, etc.

According to Beatrice Vessilier, “territorial development should take place on such a scale. It is necessary to find a balance with neighboring territories.”.

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