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Building & Renovation

Property Developers Criticise Parochial Stance of Mayors

Tuesday 15 May 2007

The control exercised by local mayors over planning matters is hampering the construction of new homes in France, according to a recent study carried out by SNAL, the French national association of developers.

They claim that local mayors are too biased in favour of planning applications from individuals on single building plots, at the expense of zoning of new areas for the construction of residential developments.

The developers cite the fact that France has a continuing shortage of housing, but remains one of the least densely populated countries in Europe, as can be seen from the following table.

Population Densities - Europe
CountryPopulation (M)Density Km²Urban Pop %
Austria8.39954
Belgium10.534497
Denmark5.412572
France639876
Germany82.423188
Italy5919690
Ireland4.26060
Luxemburg0.519391
Netherlands16.440265
Portugal10.611553
Spain45.59076
United Kingdom60.524789
European Union46611478

Source: INSEE

SNAL consider that a much more strategic approach should be taken to planning and development matters, with responsibility for planning taken away from individual mayors and vested in wider district authorities.

The study showed that one third of land released for new dwellings in the last few years has come from only three regions of France – Aquitaine, Pays de Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. By inference, the report argues that other areas of the country are not pulling their weight in land planning.

Whilst the stance of SNAL is not surprising (and a widely shared view in France), the timing of the release of the study, when France is currently engaged on one of the biggest house building programmes in its history, may raise a few eyebrows.

You can read more about the planning system in France by reading our Guide to the French Planning System .

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