“Mayors of city centres must position themselves as leaders and thinkers for tomorrow”

Op-ed by Antonia Luciani, Secretary-General of the Coppieters Foundation

News / 09.3.20

With our exhibition on commercial zones, we intend to sound the alarm on a certain number of negative consequences from the development of commercial zones. These consequences are environmental but also affect urban development, with a peripheralisation of services, shops and housing, and with a devitalisation of city centres and the loss of markers, social links and culture it triggers.

Corsica is a good illustration of this. With the steep rise of the number of commercial zones on the territory, especially around Ajaccio/Aiacciu, one can think that we have reached a certain limit, with close to 600 square meters of commercial zone per inhabitant, when the French average is around 300-350. This means that we find ourselves in a commercial overequipment and must be vigilant about it.

Thanks to our exhibition, citizens can have access to this data and to information about the development process of these commercial zones. Citizens from Corsica and beyond should not consider that this is a private debate between experts and elected officials. By showing what exactly it entails and the impact that these zones have on local territories, this exhibition allows citizens to have access to information that should matter to them.

The development of commercial zones can be limited or at least regulated, mainly through local planning. The shame is that Corsica, like other territories in Europe, does not have any vision, any strategic document allowing to deal with this matter on a local scale.

Yet, today, mayors of city centres must position themselves as leaders and thinkers for tomorrow. They need to think through how these living areas are going to be organised. Because if what happens in peripheries is detrimental to city centres, without historical cities being able to give their opinion or regulate what is happening in peripheries, then we will have missed everything.

Antonia Luciani, Secretary-General of the Coppieters Foundation, was interviewed by France 3 Corse ViaStella following the launch of the foundation’s exhibition on commercial zones and their impact on local development, in Ajaccio/Aiacciu. The exhibition is still open to the public until 30 April 2020 at the Order of Architects from Corsica.

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The Coppieters Foundation is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conferences, events or opinion pieces published on our website.

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