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Recreational Activities, Economic and Territorial Development: Caen (France) in the Reconquest of its River?


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Like numerous port cities in France and in the world that undertook a reterritorialisation of their industrial–port wastelands, Caen is seizing the opportunity of such a move. Its development should be carried out within the framework of an integrated territorial approach, through a quality urban and landscaped treatment and an urban animation where leisure combines cultural and sporting events. Since the project is still in its early stages, this chapter proposes a geoprospective trial on the development of Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula through recreational and sporting activities. It starts, in particular, with the recently adopted Master Plan and reviews, in light of what has been done in other cities around the world that have embarked on operations to reconvert and revitalize their port areas by using them as new tools of economic development (Das, Regional Outlook 92–95, 2011), and thus, makes some recommendations on the future of this project.
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Recreational Activities, Economic and Territorial Development:
Caen (France) in the Reconquest of its River?
Sébastien BOURDIN, Normandy Business School, Institute of Territorial Development
Yann RIVOALLAN, Caen Normandy Metropolitan District
Like numerous port cities in France and in the world that undertook a reterritorialisation of
their industrial-port wastelands, Caen is seizing the opportunity of such a move. Its
development should be carried out within the framework of an integrated territorial
approach, through a quality urban and landscaped treatment and an urban animation where
leisure combines cultural and sporting events. Since the project is still in its early stages, this
article proposes a geoprospective trial on the development of Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula
through recreational and sporting activities. It starts, in particular, with the recently
adopted Master Plan and reviews, in light of what has been done in other cities around the
world that have embarked on operations to reconvert and revitalize their port areas by using
them as new tools of economic development (Das, 2011), and thus, makes some
recommendations on the future of this project.
Key words : territorial development, waterfront, urban revitalization, Leisure activities
Following the introductory work of Jansen-Verbeke (1986), the waterfront model can be
considered as an element of urban tourism which also helps to reduce the climate and
energy footprint (Lecroart & Palisse 2007) by imagining new solutions, as part of a
sustainable approach (Lecroart 2007). In particular, conceived as a mean of developing
leisure tourism, it can play an important role in the attractiveness of a city (Lecroart and al.
2007). The waterfront has been widely discussed in the literature and there is considerable
evidence that, when it is redeveloped for entertainment and recreational purposes, it helps
to improve the image of the city and is a real economic development tool (Butuner 2006;
Soraya 2009; Das 2011). In this case, the regeneration of brownfields has an important role
to play in the economic development of these areas, attracting tourists and locals, national
and international residents with high purchasing power (Griffin and Hayllar 2006; Craggs and
Schofield 2011). It is designed to serve as a catalyst for the quality of life in the city (Savage
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and al. 2004; Erkok 2009) by acting as a social cohesion tool and participates in the
emergence of new urban experiences in connection with the cultural and territorial heritage
of the sites concerned (Brutomesso 1993; Hoyle 2001; Hamzah 2002; Giovinazzi 2010). It
allows the inhabitants of the territory to reappropriate areas (in particular, banks and quays)
that had been confiscated from them for decades or even centuries (Lecroart & Palisse
2007). However, it is unfortunate to note that the French urban planners have lagged far
behind in this area (Prelorenzo 2010).
It is within this science-based context that we wish to examine these issues, so that a city like
Caen can reconnect with its river through recreational and leisure activities by proposing a
geoprospective trail (Gourmelon and al. 2012) around a river: the Orne River.
Caen has a millennium past in maritime and commercial history. The first Industrial
Revolution, combined with the opening of the Caen Canal to the sea at the origin of a
peninsula (see Figure 1) and the arrival of the railway, provide to the port of Caen, as well as
its region, a significant economic growth. Like many European ports, the maritime, port,
industrial and commercial activities have steadily declined as a result of the containerization
of goods and the recurrence of economic crises since the late 1970s, leading to the creation
of a large wasteland, from Caen to Ouistreham and going through nine municipalities.
The fragmentation of the urban environment, resulting from the desertion of industrial
activities, durably transforms the landscape, on the one hand, but also the urbanity of these
cities on the other hand, resulting in the representations the inhabitants have, their
ownership and their images. As a result, this is a substantial challenge for municipalities to
carry out urban revitalisations. The first industrial-port wastelands revitalisations date from
the 1960s in the United States and aimed to develop declining urban territories which
became very high added value land reserves (Halbert 2007), freed up from their former port
activities relocated to more efficient sites. In line with this, many French cities and in the
world have carried out an upgrading of their industrial-port wastelands (Lechner 2006;
Lucchini 2012; Rivoallan 2013). For instance, REVIT (revitalisation of industrial wastelands)
European programme is co-financing European cities projects with the objective of
rehabilitating industrial wastelands in a sustainable manner. Revitalisation concerns a
former freight station in Stuttgart, industrial and port sites in Nantes and Medway, coal
mines in Torfaen, a former textile factory in Tilburg and the Hart van Zuid in Hengelo. In
Nantes, for example, REVIT has contributed to reviving three former sites (Alstom, Atlantic
foundries and former shipyards) on the island of Nantes, facing the historic heart of the city,
inspired by the memory of the places and valuing the industrial heritage. The long term
expected result is the construction of 6,500 housing units, 250,000 m² of economic activities,
open public spaces, social, tourism and cultural facilities.
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Caen did not fully take the opportunity of such an approach even though its inner Peninsula
represents a unique source of economic development for the territory. Nevertheless, this
area, whose vocation is to be re-territorialised and re-converted, cannot only limit itself to
being a new retail catchment area. Its development must be carried out within the
framework of a sustainable development process, through quality urbanism and landscaping
and urban animation where leisure activities combine cultural and sporting events, whilst
preventing this area from becoming only a gentrification place (Chaline 1988; Raoulx 1996).
However, for the time being, only a small part of the Peninsula has been developed and
everything else in this huge area between Caen and Ouistreham will have to be reviewed.
First, our proposal will be to assess barriers and opportunities that led to the partial
development of this land reserve meant for economic and territorial development purposes.
Second, we will not only suggest geoprospective ways (Gourmelon and al. 2012) of
development to this large area, but will also make some recommendations for its future
1. Reconquer the Orne River through the Reconversion of Wastelands :
Principles and Limits
1.1. The Maritime Past : the Valuable Asset of a River Town …
The maritime, industrial and commercial past of a port must be integrated into a process of
urban requalification in order to preserve the identity and the memory of places, varying
according to the social groups involved, within an approach that is at the same time
economic, cultural and environmental (Chang and Huang, 2005). Taking into account the
maritime heritage of these abandoned industrial port areas is part of the development
strategies implemented by the local authorities (Raoulx, 1996). All stakeholders must play a
role in the decision process on what should be preserved or not, and in the ways the places
will be reappropriated (Chang and Huang, 2005). This is especially necessary if one wants to
(i) facilitate cohesion among the different social groups, (ii) link the past with the present
and the future and (iii) facilitate the collective reappropriation of these places. However, the
latter is only possible if heritage is not sanctified or imported (Gourbin, 2012).
From this point of view, Caen has undeniable assets related to its history that local
populations could recapture through a project they would be proud of (Chang and Huang
2005). Unlike its Norman sister cities of Rouen and Le Havre, Caen has never had an
important port activity. Being more of a commercial town than a town with a maritime
tradition (Raoulx 1996), Caen has always been relying on an intense short sea shipping
activity since the beginning of the middle Age. It is during the fifteenth century that the port
actually increased activity throughout Europe with the development of trade in fine
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draperies and Caen stone for construction. Its successful activity will lead the city to carry
out a succession of developments (Carel, 1886) eventually resulting in the creation in 1857
of a peninsula with a port vocation close to the City Centre (Raoulx, 1996)
. The opening of
the Caen Canal to the sea as well as the inauguration of the railway station provided a
significant growth to the city and its port which then became both a land and maritime
crossroad (Loraux, 1946; Pinson, 1985) at the beginning of the twentieth century.
It was at this time that the Port of Caen considered moving from a commercial function to an
industrial one. It was in 1903 that the Société Navale Caennaise shipping line was created.
As soon as the First World War was over, the industrialisation of the port actually began with
the creation of the military shipyards of Blainville-sur-Orne and the opening of the Société
Métallurgique de Normandie (SMN) steel mill in Colombelles (Raoulx, 1986). Until the end
of the 1980s, the Lower-Normandy region which is very rich in iron
ore ensured the Port of
Caen, an important return freight to the ships coming from the United Kingdom, Belgium,
the Netherlands and Germany loaded with the coal needed for the SMN steel works activity.
However, with the shutdown of the SMN in 1993, it is more than 50% of the port's activity
that is de facto disappearing. Under pressure from regional agricultural lobbyists and
despite the close proximity of the Port of Rouen, the largest European port specialised in
cereals traffic, the Caen port authorities decided to invest in the construction of grain silos
to develop grain traffic (Raoulx, 1996) as an alternative to the predicted decline in port
activity. Nevertheless, the volume of this activity is low, insignificant and steadily declining
and the continuing decrease in activity of the Port of Caen for several decades has turned it
into an industrial-port wasteland with considerable reconversion potential for recreational
As we have seen, the area identified from Caen to the sea went through different stages
following the model developed by Lucchini (2012) of territorialisation (industrialisation),
deterritorialisation (abandonment or relocation of industrial and/or port activities), and
reterritorialisation (revitalisation of the industrial-port brownfields). Nevertheless, this last
process seems to encounter in Caen several difficulties that must be analysed.
In the meantime, the port will experience ups and downs, particularly with the introduction of the
Fontainebleau Edict (1685), revoking the Edict of Nantes (1598), which will have a devastating impact on Caen.
It will ruin the majority of local businesses owned by Protestants who represented at this time between 30% and
50% of the Caen population. It will be followed by the dissolution of local shipping lines created during the
previous century, stopping the development of the port.
Domestic second largest producer after the Lorraine region.
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1.2. … but Barriers We Should Not Ignore
In 1857, the inauguration of the canal of Caen to the sea created an area of about fifteen
kilometers long commonly referred to as the Peninsula-of-Caen-to-the-Sea (Figure 1). It
starts from the Saint-Pierre Basin in the Caen Harbour and leads into the Bay of Sallenelles,
between Ouistreham, Sallenelles and Merville-Franceville. This strip of land, an inner
peninsula, is bordered on its left by the canal of Caen to the sea and on its right, by the Orne
River, a small coastal river having its source near Sées in the Orne Department and
terminating in the English Channel. This continuous territory (Figure 1), over nearly fifteen
kilometers, passes through many municipalities: Caen, Hérouville-Saint-Clair, Mondeville,
Colombelles, Blainville-sur-Orne, Bénouville, Amfreville, Ranville and Ouistreham. This area
of 1,000 hectares is both an opportunity and a challenge for the agglomeration of Caen and
the lower Normandy region, insofar as the potential for development of a wasteland of this
size is exceptional in Europe. For example, the Glasgow-Clyde waterfront represents 660
hectares and the Amsterdam-IJburg is 400 hectares, yet these revitalisation projects have
been very successful (tables 1 and 2). Nonetheless, for Caen, behind this potential for
development, real difficulties arise connected with industrial risks and the governance of the
Table 1 : Size of the Area to be Revitalised within the Caen Region
Occupied Area within the Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula
Land area
% of Total
Surface Area
6,7 %
8,0 %
15,5 %
21,8 %
7,6 %
8,9 %
7,9 %
8,5 %
15,1 %
100 %
Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula’s municipalities-Territories-Superfaces-Y. Rivoallan, August 2013
* Not including the « Nouveau Monde » sewage plant area
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Table 2 : Main Urban Regeneration Areas in Europe
Current or Planned Wasteland Regeneration Projects
Area en ha
Barcelone-Forum Besos
Glasgow-Clyde Waterfront
Londres Stratford City
1 450
Rijeka-Delta Barros
1 500
Current or Planned Wasteland Regeneration Projects -Y. Rivoallan, August 2013
The Caen section is the smallest surface of this area and its development is stalled by
industrial hazards within the territories of the peninsula belonging to the municipalities of
Mondeville and Hérouville-Saint-Clair. The Technological Risk Prevention Plan (PPRT)
prohibits, in particular, any urban development within a several hundred-meter perimeter
exclusion zone.
Industrial hazard exposure is particularly prevalent within the upstream part of the Peninsula
(Caen, Mondeville and Hérouville-Saint-Clair) due to the presence of hazardous companies
(Dépôts Pétroliers Côtiers, Les Combustibles de Normandie, SOFRINO, AGRIAL) and also
because of the constant movement of hazardous materials
via road, rail and waterway.
Hence, a PPRT (SEVESO II high risk classification) regarding Dépôts Pétroliers Côtiers was
approved in 2015. All these industrial risks act as a "lock" preventing any revitalization with
territorial continuity of this large area. Caen is, thus, obliged to develop its part of the
peninsula outside its geographical limits, Hérouville-Saint-Clair is forced to transform its area
of the peninsula into a high density truck traffic zone and to keep a large untouched
wasteland and Mondeville forced to limit its urbanisation operations.
Gasoline and Class 3 flammable liquids, Class 1 explosives, Class 7 radioactive materials, fertilizers, gases
and pesticides (PLU-Overview report-Arrêt-28 January 2013, p. 234)
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 7
Figure 1 : development potential of Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula’s municipalities
Source : Géoportail, IGN réalisation Y. Rivoallan
Yassin and al. (2013) investigated the governance role in the development of waterfronts in
Malaysia. The results showed that low involvement and limited collaboration among the
stakeholders were contributing factors of project inefficiency hindering successful
completion. Yet another barrier connected to the governance of this project is that while the
stakeholders seem to be convinced of the existence of Caen's maritime, industrial and
commercial past and that some heritage buildings and equipment must be protected, the
multiplicity of stakeholders involved does not foster on the consistency of a global
revitalisation project. While in most European projects, the number of municipalities is very
limited, nine municipalities (Figure 1) are part of the Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula and directly
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 8
concerned by the industrial-port brownfield. As a result, it leads to governance difficulties in
this joint project. Hence, the Société Publique Locale d’Aménagement de la Presqu’île-de-
Caen-à-la-mer (SPLA), a local public company for the development of the Peninsula of Caen-
to-the-sea, was created to carry out the task of drawing up the development project of the
Industrial-Port Peninsula but did not associate all the municipalities from Caen to the sea.
Only Caen
, Hérouville-Saint-Clair and Mondeville, the agglomeration of Caen-La-mer, the
Basse-Normandie region and Ports Normands Associés (PNA) are involved in this
revitalization through the SPLA, excluding the six closest municipalities to the sea. In addition
to this, divergent views exist among the mayors of Caen, Hérouville-Saint-Clair and
Mondeville concerning the process of regeneration of this area. The result is a fragmentation
of the Peninsula into separate functional areas corresponding to sub-projects of
development over a period of time and space without a global project or “umbrella-project”
emerging and reaching consensus because of lack of genuine consultation and not taking
into consideration the overall needs and wishes of the Peninsula’s nine municipalities.
2. The River Orne as a Differentiating Advantage: Géoprospective Elements
2.1. Feedback on the River as a Differentiating Advantage
The river can be considered as a territorial asset in the sense of Pecqueur (2005)
, i.e. it
represents a potential for the territory to be revealed or to be organised as it does not exist
as such. Also, the cities that regenerated their waterfront have created a real differentiating
advantage (Pecqueur 2006 and 2007) owing to this asset which is the river, allowing them to
stand out in the competition among other cities. In other words, the territories concerned
used water and industrial-port wastelands nearby to create an economic and territorial
resource by attracting high purchasing power tourists and local, domestic and
international residents (Griffin and Hayllar 2006; Craggs and Schofield 2011).
Reappropriation of brownfields for recreational purposes also meets a need for nature and a
growing quest for well-being in the city (Lévêque and Van der Leeuw 2008; Bourdeau-Lepage
and Vidal 2013). The river and the river eco-systems are, from this point of view, a privileged
territorial and ecological resource and the revitalization of these areas is an asset for the
territories in competition with other cities.
The reappropriation of this territorial and ecological resource needs substantial financing,
involves many stakeholders (state, regions, municipalities, investors, business leaders, local
The city of Caen has a major position.
Researcher at the laboratory » Territoires », UMR 5194 PACTE, UJF/UPMF/ CNRS, Professor at the
University Joseph Fourier, Deputy-Director of the Institut de Géographie Alpine
Through the creation of new high added value residential, commercial, recreational, nautical and cultural
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 9
residents, tourists, boat owners, associations) and must benefit from a visible strategy, a
flexible, thoughtful, detailed, analytical and continually reassessed Master Plan or Guide Plan
to avoid urban, social, ecological and economic mistakes which can be catastrophic (Lecroart
and al., 2007; Giovinazzi 2010). In particular, all future waterfront social and ecological
functions and its daytime and night-time activities as well, must be considered at the earliest
stages of the initial analysis of the project (Giovinazzi, 2010). In other words, building a real
differentiating advantage is quite often a complex process but this urban singularisation has
become essential in terms of territorial attractiveness. It should not only be seen as the
essential to attract new inhabitants and businesses but also to keep them in the territory. By
revitalising a waterfront, the city proposes a new territorial offer that meets the
expectations of the various economic agents, making it more attractive.
A waterfront development should enable regenerating and reinventing of wastelands, with
creativity, dynamism and modernity, with the aim of designing an effective economic
development tool for the region (Raoulx 1996), keeping local residents within the territory,
attracting domestic and international tourists and creating new jobs in various areas (Craggs
and Schofield 2011). The territorial project should be able to provide residential housing
based on social diversity, unspoilt environment, leisure, shopping facilities, local services,
tertiary activities, marinas, and bring together people from the territory around a project
they can be proud to call their own (Chang and Huang 2005)
. The success of such projects is
based on the respect of the river-land-sea continuum.
2.2. The Peninsula’s Development Project
Envisioned in the time of Jean-Marie Girault, Mayor of Caen from 1970 to 2001, the
development of the Peninsula-of-Caen-to-the-sea has been taking shape for some years
now. The almost finalized Local Urban Planning Plan project, dated 28 January 2013
, plans
a significant urban densification of the town with the construction of 1 400 dwellings per
year until 2016, half of which located downtown. It expects the peninsula to become an
exemplary residential area, in terms of urban planning and environment, by recovering in a
sustainable manner banks and water, focusing on yachting, leisure, shopping and
promenades and also, reducing parking and motor vehicle traffic by favouring carbon-free
vehicles. In addition, the city of Caen made a commitment in May 2010 to curb its emissions
of CO2 by 20% by 2020 and to take into account the vulnerability of the Peninsula, related to
road transport of dangerous materials and also, that of industrial risks.
Among others, see examples in Nantes, Rouen, Lyon, Copenhagen, Salford, Portsmouth, Bilbao, Ipswich and
PLU-PADD-Caen-28 January 2013
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Several public buildings were already built in this part of the Peninsula - the Cargö
and the
Art & Media School. Two other buildings have just been built: the Regional Multimedia
Library (BMVR) and the new Tribunal. With regard to environmental matters, a large 2,000
lawn stretches out in front of the Court, up to the Victor Hugo Canal (Figure 2), thus
creating a continuum between the river, its banks and further downstream, the sea.
Figure 2 : Perspective View of the Developments Already Carried Out at the Tip of the Peninsula
1-Quai François Mitterrand. 2-BMVR. 3-Avenue Pierre-Berthelot. 4-Tribunal. 5-Lawn
Michel Desvigne Group-Landscape architect Source : MVRDV
Modern Music Concert Hall
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Figure 3 : perspective view of future developments in the first part of the Peninsula
Source : MVRDV
Beyond developments being finalised at the tip of the Peninsula, the MVRDV architectural
firm extended the scope of the project by widening the area to be developed beyond the
geographical boundaries of the Peninsula (Figure 3). The subsequent Guide-Plan was called
"The Great Mosaic" and is predominantly based on the respect of existing structures and
provides a "realistic, attentive and user-friendly" urban planning. Proposed projects involve
transforming the former factories into a collection of gardens to "aerate the area", a highly
connected mobility plan mainly based on soft mobility, a number of new pedestrian
walkways and a better interconnection with the sea. This latter ambition is to give meaning
to the name of the Communauté d’Agglomération "Caen-la -Mer". The project will start
near the historic centre of Caen and will follow the Orne valley which connects the city to
the sea, not far from the D-Day beaches. The transformation has the ambition to radically
improve the attractiveness of Greater Caen. The Guide-Plan will last more than a decade for
its implementation but only concerns the municipalities of Caen, Hérouville-Saint-Clair and
Mondeville, again without considering the other six communes alongside this long strip of
land mainly due to political reasons. Yet, the inclusion of all the municipalities having a
geographical connection with the area to be regenerated would allow new intercommunal
cooperations, limit the risk of territorial breaks (Lechner 2006) and limit conflicts relating to
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land use (Byrd and al., 2009). Furthermore, it should be noted that the Guide-Plan does not
take into account the existing industrial risks (Seveso II high-risk classification for one of
them) which are hindrances to the developmental of the Peninsula (Figure 4) and the
solution to relocate these high-risk industrial infrastructures is not addressed politically.
Figure 4 : Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula-Municipalities of de Caen-Mondeville-Hérouville-Industrial Hazards-
Y. Rivoallan-August 2013
2.3. Upgrading the Peninsula of Caen-to-the-Sea : Between Managerial
Analysis and Geoprospective Trial
Recent geoprospective approaches (Gourmelon and al., 2012; Houet and Gourmelon 2014)
aim to better integrate, by using various methods, the territory into the process of
exploration of the future, going beyond a simple illustrative support function of its possible
futures. In this context, this approach requires a clear understanding of the whys and
wherefores of the projects, in this case referring to the reterritorialization of a large
industrial-port area and its integration into a sensitive space where rivers, estuaries and
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 13
coastline areas are inter-related. As such, we are going to suggest ways that should be
integrated in the planned development of "The Great Mosaic" project.
Urban Planning
The urbanization of industrial-port wastelands offers many benefits. On one hand, it makes
it possible to carry out significant profitable real estate transactions, through densifying the
space, by focusing on tertiary support activities, diversified urban functions
(Salet and al.,
2007) and by housing various groups, in terms of age, family status, income and lifestyle
(Tineke and al., 2007). On the other hand, these wastelands urbanisation help to fight urban
sprawl. The agglomeration of Caen-la-mer can be considered “an expert" in urban sprawl in
France even though it seems necessary to redensify the city. From this point of view, the
Peninsula is an opportunity to bring people back to the city centre provided that the supply
of housing is diverse both from the point of view of real estate price, size and housing
quality. The objective is, therefore, to build a city district based on the memory of site and
water so as to attract new residents and tourists. The developments will cover 200 of the
600 hectares of the Peninsula, resulting in 7,000 dwellings built and 45,000 m2 of economic
activities created, in addition to the current existing situation. The urbanization of these
places should be able to develop vibrant neighborhoods during the day and also in the
, while avoiding an excessive gentrification of the area (Lecroart and al., 2007).
Zhang and al. (2011) studied recreational facilities spatial structures in urban waterfronts. In
particular, they showed how functional diversity and the creation of a "Green Belt" in
parallel to the "Blue Belt" were the keys to the success of such projects. In the future
project, consideration will need to be given to urban planning linking housing, community
services, commercial activities and leisure.
From an urban planning point of view, the construction of an iconic and symbolic
from the beginning of the project (Lucchini 2012) seems to act as cement; a flagship enabling
the different social groups to reappropriate these places with new uses. We believe that it
is imperative here to refer to the history and memory of these places. From this point of
view, it seems relevant to us to consider the construction of such a building referring either
to the history of Caen through the Second World War or to its industrial- port past.
Housing, leisure, yachting, university, services, offices and administrative functions in the city.
A good example is GUNWHARFS QUAYS regeneration project in Portsmouth associating day and night life.
Like the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth too with a sail shape chosen by Portsmouth people following an
architects competition. It reflects the maritime history of the city known as one of the main military English
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Lastly, the consolidation or relocation of port operations allows the development of yachting
by developing marinas within left vacant areas (Cremnitzer 2012) and allows a better
interaction between water and the land involved (Miller 2011). It is from this standpoint
that a marina will be developed in Hérouville. Marinas generate jobs by bringing in visitors
from outside the territory as well as families from the city, and by directly injecting money
into the local economy. According to a 2007 study
about 15 direct and indirect jobs are
created for 100 moorings and the marina draws an average of four visitors with overnight
stays per boat. The marina is a must-see place to visit for 80% of families living in the city
where the port is located. Finally, boat owners’ expenses range from €175 for a middle size
boat and from 1,800 € to more than 30 000 € (more than 24 m long yacht) for foreign
visitors. These elements confirm the interest of developing this type of activity when it is
associated with entertaining practices.
The redevelopment of an underused industrial port area, stemming from deindustrialization
and neglected for many decades, requires a complete re-think of its economic functions
(Oakley and Rofe 2008) to have a positive impact on the territory’s development. On one
hand, physical transforming of degraded and polluted sites provides benefit to the local
economy through important investments, create wealth and jobs owing to large
construction projects. On the other hand, the successful regeneration of an industrial-port
wasteland will attract companies and many tourists, which will benefit the local economy,
generally in the retail, hotel industry, international trade shows and symposia, food and
logistics industries sectors. Economic issues are, therefore, considerable in such a city as
Caen when one knows the potential economic benefits of such projects.
The MVRDV architectural firm took into consideration the willingness of the SPLA partners to
increase the number of cruises by improving the access and reception of cruise ships. This is
a substantial challenge as competition with the English ports like Southampton and
Portsmouth is real. The cruise sector continues to grow significantly with destinations to the
Canary Islands or the Mediterranean from Southampton. This year, this city inaugurated its
fifth cruise terminal and hopes to keep the monopoly of transatlantic cruises in Europe. But
proximity of Caen-Ouistreham to ports on the other side of the Channel is a real opportunity
to draw cruise clientele, particularly, since a cruise passenger spends an average of 50
locally before departure and such existing infrastructures are also an important opportunity
to create jobs.
In order to achieve this economic development, supply must be in line with demand. It
should be pointed out that favourite activities of tourists spending the day in waterfronts are
Euromarina & Fédération Française des Ports de Plaisance (2007)
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related to shopping, restaurants (varied and of quality), bars and attractions/activities
related to the water. For example, one can imagine developing kayak rides from Caen to the
sea via the club which is currently located close to the Peninsula, in the City Marina.
Wandering on a large promenade alongside the banks and quays, the heritage sites,
museums, galleries and all factors that bring in public must also be part of the action of
consideration on future developments (Griffin and Hayllar 2006) and may become value-
added sources for the territory.
Beyond the purely economic aspect, Everard and Moggridge (2012) have clearly shown the
acceleration of the reappropriation of the urban rivers in recent years in connection with the
understanding of their landscape, eco-system and social value. From this point of view, the
revitalization of an industrial-port wasteland acts as a social cohesion tool. It reunites
territories separated by water canals, rivers and industrial and port areas (Giovanizzi 2010).
It modifies the urban landscape that has moved the city and its inhabitants away from these
places that once represented employment and profitability (Chaline 1988). Furthermore,
Giblett and Samant (2012) have studied the sustainability of the successive development of
urban regeneration programmes of waterfronts in some large Asian ports. In particular, they
show the importance of giving greater consideration to social and environmental issues
rather than only thinking from an economic point of view the development of waterfronts.
Facilitating the reappropriation of such areas deserted by the inhabitants is no simple
matter. As such, memory of places plays an important role in the social approach of
revitalized territories, but varies among the groups concerned and according to the
experiences (Chang and Huang 2005). Here, we see two real issues for the municipalities
involved in the development. The first is the future project ability to create social diversity.
This, however, cannot be taken for granted, especially when it is a known fact that places
associating heritage, tourism, leisure, quality living environment and boating aim more at
the affluent social class than those in difficulty. The creation of new residential areas in the
immediate proximity of a river with many landscapes, recreational and commercial facilities
is all potential sources of gentrification. The second questions the ability of the project to
foster interactions among the different stakeholders in these new areas (residents, tourists,
developers, investors, workers). Indeed, the risk is important to see an addition of dense
and diverse territorial practices but with limited exchanges among stakeholders.
One possible solution is to foster leisure activities that help reduce social inequalities in
regenerated industrial-port Brownfields (Miller 2011). Yet, Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula’s
significant size allows converting part of its area and its heritage buildings (silos) into places
suitable for recreational activities : climbing, scuba diving, indoor skydiving, indoor surfing,
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 16
water activities, theme park, sport and outdoor activities. These recreational activities could
be social link catalysts.
Social dimension is first and foremost an urban planning issue, particularly related to
housing typology. In other words, the aim will be to foster residential mix (large and small
apartments, high-standard housing and social housing) and even intergenerational. When
coming up with a project, this also requires consideration on the range of services offered
(retail, tourism, leisure) and adapted to different levels of purchasing power.
The development of a revitalized area, generally speaking, of Caen-to-the-Sea Peninsula, in
particular, is not possible without ensuring environment sustainability (Charlier 2007) and
must contribute to the reduction of the climatic and energetic footprint (Lecroart & Palisse
2007), through the development of new solutions, within a sustainable based approach
(Lecroart 2007).
This approach requires decontamination and cleaning up of polluted soils (Lupi 2007),
following the European Court of Auditors’ recommendations based on the "polluter-pays"
principle (Court of Auditors, EU, Report No. 23, 2012), improvement in the quality of water
within revitalized areas (Giovanizzi 2010), suppression or burial of high-voltage lines
alongside banks and quays (Solupe 2007) , development of sustainable neighbourhoods
without cars (Lecroart 2007) or low-traffic urban areas (Lupi 2007), and considering
environment preservation, from the initial period of the preliminary stage of the project.
Finally, dealing with the problem of long-term rising sea levels must be our key concern.
The issue on mobility and difficult access to the Peninsula is very prevalent. There is
currently no public transport service with the Peninsula and no direct connection to the sea.
Moreover, due to very few “gateways”, the connection of this area with its urban
environment remains difficult. The reterritorialization of an industrial-port wasteland must
be an opportunity to rethink mobility. The challenge is to reduce the carbon footprint and to
allow the reappropriation of the site by the pedestrians, by planning from the early stage of
the thinking process "carbon-free areas" without cars to reduce acoustic, olfactory and
visual impacts. The project should, therefore, focus on green spaces and waterfront
promenades, which are not only very popular with the residents and visitors, but also ensure
continuity to the various places composing these spaces (Miller 2011). This nature
restoration in the city is likely to guarantee ecological functioning restoration.
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 17
Furthermore, the omnipresence of water in regeneration projects of areas located along
canals or rivers is an opportunity to use the waterways to set up public transport that will
participate in the comprehensive reorganisation of the urban fabric (Lechner 2006). Also,
with regard to Caen, several issues concerning mobility must be rethought. The goal will be
to imagine a shared mobility, to foster intermodal connections, to link North and South
districts, to limit the Peninsula car traffic, to set up an environmentally-friendly and
alternative to the car, to optimise the existing infrastructures, to encourage the pedestrian
traffic and above all, to connect Caen to the seafront.
The proximity of Caen and its Peninsula with the sea is an exceptional but insufficiently
valued geographic advantage, especially in the perspective of sustainable development with
an adaptive project planning to deal with climate change. The current urban grids network is
generally focusing on cars. Pedestrian practice is difficult due to the preponderance of
roads. It is, therefore, necessary to examine the modes of transport for both their efficiency
and their optimisation. One could consider a Peninsula with a "quiet" bank, more associated
to port imagery and related to the more residential and peaceful districts located on the
River Orne left bank hillsides and favouring soft traffic. It would result in the development
of public spaces as landscaped promenades, cycle paths, playgrounds, gardens and parks
close to the water and delimited by renovated and highlighted quays. The flat topography of
the valley and the presence of a Green Lane towards Ouistreham are already existing
advantages. Lastly, Caen and the other municipalities to the sea have an unused river
transport potential. Following the example of other cities like London or Rotterdam, a
possibility would be to set up a waterbus service linking Caen downtown to the sea and in
particular, passing through Hérouville. The aim of this type of development would be to
ensure a renewed relationship to the sea.
The municipalities of Caen-to-the-Sea are now facing the challenge of attractiveness. The
revitalization of such a large industrial-port wasteland such as the one being studied is an
opportunity for the concerned territories. Nevertheless, major challenges remain, in
particular, the one concerning financing and governance on the one hand, and the ecological
perspective on the other hand. For the latter, indeed, building within an estuarine
environment is a real challenge in a context of climate change and of gradual rise of sea
In recent years, the urban development and construction trend was to involve public sector
and private financial resources to ensure feasibility and continuity of projects’
implementation. Huanga and Kaob (2014) studied this matter in the context of regenerating
waterfronts. In particular, they demonstrated how induced and balancing risk through the
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 18
development of public-private partnerships depended on the participants’ involvement in
the project and on financial plans figured out to fund these types of projects. Today, it is
generally accepted that public stakeholders must ensure from the very beginning, the quality
of the project design as well as a genuine joint consultation with the community and the
private stakeholders (Giovanizzi 2010). These urban transformations require real
cooperation taking into account the architects, investors, developers and the community
wishes (Desfor and Jrgensen 2003). Thus, for this project, the dialogue among the different
stakeholders will have to be constant and open in order to create a climate of confidence
encouraging initiative and risk-taking. The winning strategy to reclaim areas coming back to
life requires a worked out and sustainable territorial governance and a broad participatory
Recreational activities-SB-YR-EN-030817 Page 19
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