Controlling urban sprawl through a commercial planning charter – Brest, FR
The Brest city council has joined forces with the local authorities of surrounding towns, the local chamber of commerce, shopkeepers and representatives of consumer groups. Their aim: to control the sprawling of Brest. They have developed an integrated commercial planning strategy for the Brest conurbation. It resulted in a charter, limiting the location of large retailers in the suburban areas and stimulating the balanced development of smaller-scale shopping areas. The charter was signed in 1996 and has proved to be a useful planning tool over the past decade - thanks to the partners’ continuing commitment.
Urban sprawl is a problem in many European cities and their
surrounding areas. It has negative environmental, social and
economic impacts, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions, loss
of natural areas and greater socio-economic segregation in
housing. The location of large retailers (hypermarkets, DIY stores)
in suburban areas contributes to urban sprawl. The retail sector
often prefers suburban locations to the inner city because the land
prices are lower, there is more space for parking and the
infrastructure is less congested.
Since 1996, the local authorities of the Greater Brest area, the local chamber of commerce, shopkeepers and representatives of consumer groups are working together to control urban sprawl. They have jointly developed a commercial planning policy for Brest, which has been laid out in a charter. The charter is not legally binding and its success therefore depends on the commitment of all partners involved. The charter aims to:
- avoid uncontrolled urban sprawl of the inner city by encouraging the development of small-scale ‘local service areas’ in the surrounding towns. The shops in a local service area (mostly supermarkets and medium-sized specialist shops) are limited in their floor space
- strengthen commercial activity in the Brest city centre and the centres of surrounding towns through implementing a city-wide renewal policy for housing, public spaces and the retail sector
- provide an attractive business climate for the inner city and suburban areas.
Brest’s commercial planning policy as laid out in the charter is implemented by the city councillors and departments responsible for urban planning. The policy covers both the inner city and its outskirts. During monthly meetings, the partners of the charter, in particular the involved local authorities and the chamber of commerce, discuss the proposed commercial projects in the Brest city area. As the retail sector in Brest is constantly evolving, the charter is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
The charter has helped to limit the expansion of large retailers to the outskirts of Brest. This allowed the surrounding towns to further develop their own ‘local service areas’ with a greater diversity of shops. It also led to renewed commercial investment in the city centre, creating a more vibrant and dynamic business climate.
The Brest charter was showcased as an innovative urban planning tool in the Europolis project (2000-2006), which was co-financed through the North-West Programme of INTERREG III B.
City of Brest
Mr Bruno Cordat
T. +33 2 98 33 55 13
Project start date