From state restructuring to urban restructuring: The intermediation of public landownership in urban development projects in France

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 373-390
Publication Date October 2018
ISSN 0969-7764 (print) | 1461-7145 (online)
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Many urban development projects (UDPs) in Europe take place on lands belonging to public bodies and administrations, and publicly owned firms. Yet, the literature has failed to explain why a substantial proportion of the remaking of European cities is shaped on public properties, and with what outcomes. My underlying hypothesis is that the redevelopment of such properties depends primarily on the restructuring of the state.

Firstly, this paper provides evidence of the relationships between three dynamics of state restructuring and the disposal of public land and real estate properties owned by one sector of the French state, that is, the railways. Secondly, the paper focuses on two UDPs of railway sites, respectively located in Paris and Nantes, in order to disclose the specificity of the redevelopment process associated with public railway properties, due to the socio-legal infrastructure of railway land disposal stemming from these dynamics.

The paper demonstrates that (i) state restructuring impels various levels and organisations of the state to redevelop public land and real estate properties; and (ii) the effects of state restructuring can be explained only by analysing the mediating role of the socio-legal infrastructure of these properties, which frames the processes and outcomes of the redevelopment projects. In so doing, the paper offers a specific account of the explanatory factors, processes and outcomes of the relationship between state restructuring and a significant proportion of the restructuring of urban areas in Europe.

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