Justice opposes land development to establish Europacity complex

Will the mega-complex Europacity project be born? Justice has again pronounced Tuesday against the urbanization of the vast agricultural area north of Paris where was to set up this park of shops and leisure, a setback that does not undermine the “trust” of its promoter.

The Administrative Court of Pontoise has annulled the local urban plan (PLU) approved by the council of Gonesse (Val-d'Oise) on September 25, 2017. He felt that opening the way to the urbanization of 248 hectares agricultural land constituted a “manifest error of appreciation”.

The mayor (PS) of this municipality of Val-d'Oise, Jean-Pierre Blazy, immediately announced his intention to appeal this decision which brings a new stop to the urbanization project of this sector stuck between the Roissy and Bourget airports.

In addition to Europacity, a shopping and leisure park spread over 80 hectares, the project provides for the creation of a Grand Paris Express station and a business center in the so-called “Gonesse Triangle” area.

“This urbanization is particularly fertile land, while the expected benefits, particularly in terms of job creation, invoked by the town of Gonesse, are not established,” said the court in a statement.

The court was seized by opponents of the Europacity project: environmental protection associations but also traders, including the operator of the nearby Aeroville shopping center, the world giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW).

In this deprived sector of the Paris region, the Europacity project – combining commercial space (230,000 m²), cultural space (50,000 m²) and leisure park (150,000 m²) – has been conceived as a tourist attraction of international stature capable of draining 31 millions of visitors (free and paid) per year.

Cost of the operation: 3.1 billion euros, the largest private investment in France since the construction of Disneyland Paris in 1992.

The project is led by Ceetrus, real estate subsidiary of the Auchan group, and the Chinese conglomerate Wanda.

“The administrative procedures of our country are part of a long time and we respect them”, reacted the promoter to the AFP. “This long time has been taken into account (…) and we are confident in our ability to carry out this project which is supported by the State,” he added.

“We are working together with the public authorities and the developer (public Grand Paris Aménagement) to make Europacity an innovative, sustainable, virtuous project, and pilot from an environmental, social and programmatic point of view,” he said. -he assures.

– “Old world” –

For years, the project oscillates between setbacks and green lights.

The promoters hoped to open in 2024 when Paris will host the Olympics. They had to swallow this ambition after the postponement to 2027 of the construction of the station.

In March 2018, already, the Pontoise Administrative Court had annulled the prefectural decree creating the concerted development zone (ZAC) of the Gonesse Triangle.

The state appealed this decision. In parallel, the development project was declared of public utility by the prefect of Val-d'Oise in December.

In its decision consulted by AFP, the administrative court also considered that the municipality of Gonesse should have presented a “serious alternative to a project likely to significantly affect the local and regional environment”.

By having the PLU approved, the Mayor had exceeded the unfavorable opinion given by the Hearing Commissioner following the public inquiry. The latter considered the project “not compatible with the notion of sustainable development”.

In a statement, Blazy said he “anticipated these legal twists and turns” and argues that a “balanced approach is needed between environmental protection and economic and social development.”

In the opposite camp, the collective of traders salutes a “historic decision” which rewards “their tenacity to fight against a project coming from the old world”.

The historical opponent of the project, the Collective for the Triangle of Gonesse, remains cautious: “The rejection of EuropaCity is therefore general and the cancellation of the PLU provides an additional reason to hope. not won. “

He is now waiting for a decision at the top of the state to put an end to the urbanization of these lands.

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