This Issue Brief proposes: 1) an analysis of recent developments in land take in France, at national and departmental level; 2) a comparison of these developments with the political proposals and instruments implemented to combat the phenomenon; 3) questions on the challenges ahead, in particular to take into account the net zero artificialisation horizon.

Key Messages

  • In France, land use has decreased since 2009, but only slightly. Despite the economic slowdown, land take continues to grow at a faster rate than the population and the gross domestic product.
     
  • Some highly urbanized areas are becoming denser, but development in most departments still follows the urban sprawl pattern. A worrying number of territories are now highly artificialized, despite having low populations and economic growth.
     
  • There are several problems facing policies that have already been implemented, some of which are cumulative: limited effective use of regulatory constraints, insufficient use of existing instruments (including economic), and the limitations at the local level to control land use on a more global scale.
     
  • The no net land take objective represents a major change to urban planning principles. Its gradual implementation raises questions about political coordination (at what scale should this objective be implemented?), and also about the economic model, because land restoration options are currently limited and expensive.
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