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Area-based urban policies Frenche Perspectives and international insights

Policy brief 309 and associated documents - Area-based urban policies Frenche Perspectives and international insights


The Center for Strategic Analysis (CAS) has recently published several documents concerning

Area-based urban policies
Frenche Perspectives and international insights*

In France, the policies that have been in place to address the issue of spatial concentration of poverty since the early 2000s have largely focussed on transforming the urban environment to favour social diversity in those areas considered as "deprived", particularly with the National Urban Regeneration Programme launched in 2003. In other countries, however, other routes have been explored: for example in Germany, where the "Social Town" programme has chosen to use the existing potential in the neighbourhood for its urban, economic and social development without trying to change the social mix; or in the United States where the Obama administration has attempted to transform such zones into 'opportunity areas' or 'choice neighbourhoods'.

At a time when, in France, priority districts are still burdened by unacceptably high poverty levels and numerous reports have called for a rethink in urban policy, the Centre for Strategic Analysis has decided to add its thinking to the public debate by taking a resolutely international view of the issue. The Centre is therefore presenting four publications, giving food for thought on the next stage in the development of urban policy.

Policy brief 309, based on all the papers and briefs – Area-based Urban Policies. French Perspectives and International Insights

As the French government starts to discuss the next stage of its urban policy, and while major inequalities exist between areas, this policy brief, based on an analysis of experiences in other countries (Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States) suggests replacing the current approach, focused on the buildings, by one focusing on the inhabitants by promoting their social and residential backgrounds. Facing renewed calls for implementing mainstream policies and territorial equality, this brief suggests structuring such policies on a town or conurbation scale, having first thoroughly analysed the factors that cause exclusion, segregation and inequalities. To achieve this, certain levers would appear to be necessary, in particular tools that would enable taking an objective view of the social and residential mobility of households, as well as some system of geolocation of public resources.

Report and documents 52 - Urban policy. French Perspectives and International Insights

This report first gives an assessment of the national programme for urban generation launched in 2003, but then describes the strategies adopted in other countries since the end of the 1990s. All contributions to this work have drawn extensively on international experiences, with attention being focussed on four countries in particular – Germany, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Depending on the particular context, the answers vary. None of the answers is devoid of certain perverse effects, and none has been easy to implement. The report not only addresses the physical side of urban improvement but it also takes account of the economic and social aspects. It recommends greater emphasis on promoting the social and residential mobility of the inhabitants. And finally, it recommends using the experience of such areas and their inhabitants as a stimulus for incorporating them into mainstream policies.

Study - Urban policy, the American experience

The American experience of urban regeneration goes back a long way, from the Urban Renewal of the1950s and 1960s, through to the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative launched by the Obama administration in 2009, and is a rich source of information. Following an historical overview of the American urban crisis, this study gives a detailed description of the programmes implemented in the United States since the end of the 1990s, from HOPE VI (Housing Opportunity for People Everywhere), to No Child Left Behind, and including the current Choice Neighborhoods launched in 2009. This is followed by several monographs (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, but also Atlanta and Saint Louis) which provide very concrete illustrations of the trends highlighted in the report.

Study - Indicators for urban policy in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and in France (with the collaboration of the General Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Cities -SG CIV)

In France, urban policy is constantly subjected to demands for evaluation. Important advances have been made in the past few years, but the evaluation of those advances remains as work in progress. To help move things forward, this study analyses the indicators used in the urban policies of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and suggests some avenues for France to explore.
Why the Netherlands and the United Kingdom? First, because the programmes implemented in the UK use a vast amount of quantitative indicators, at all levels. Secondly, because the "large town policy" that the Netherlands has been pursuing since 2007, relies heavily on a systematic use of indicators. And finally, because in both countries, these programmes, which started in the early 2000s, have now been completed and have been the subject of an extremely valuable evaluation at the national level, which was carried out in 2010.
This study sketches out certain ideas for France concerning zoning; the geolocation of regional public funding, whether destined for sensitive urban areas or not; the publication of urban policy indicators, following the logic of OpenData.

*International symposium organised on the 12th December 2012 by the Centre For Strategic Analysis and the General Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Cities, partnered by the Urban Institute and the 'Cycle d’urbanisme' at Sciences-Po


Centre d’analyse stratégique