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Following heavy reconstruction efforts after World War II, community participative planning has a long tradition among the population of Saint-Nazaire. Since its creation in 2001, the metropolitan council is radically transforming its approach to urban development, from its eco-district redevelopment to being an eco-city of the 21st century.

In the Certé neighbourhood, north of Saint-Nazaire, its approach is to reorganise the urban space by creating a better social mix with a denser building pattern in order to maintain affordable prices, and above all, to meet the need of local people for the central location of all public services. The ERDF is contributing to the depollution of the adjoining wasteland, the renovation of a sports hall and the renewal of streets and footpaths.

Executive summary

Street theatre and urban workshops facilitated by professional actors helped the people of Certé, on the northern outskirts of Saint-Nazaire, to prepare their vision of the future, by expressing their hopes and dreams before and after the demolition in 2009 of the tower blocks that had been home to families of shipyard workers. As the area was redeveloped, ERDF support has been instrumental to cleaning up the adjoining polluted wasteland. This has enabled the full reclamation of the site, radically transforming the area’s reputation. Without this global approach, this deprived neighbourhood would have remained isolated, cut off by traffic infrastructure that serves regional rather than local needs.

The redevelopment strategy is to reorganise the road pattern to reconnect the neighbourhood with the town to the south and the nearby regional park to the north. Public services have been grouped in the centre where they are easily accessible by vehicle and by foot. A variety of housing types is being offered so as to encourage a good social mix, and the density is being increased to keep costs affordable.

The social development and participative planning approach is rooted in the local history of former rural communities which earned their living from the shipyards. This has involved collective action and solidarity for many generations. This genuine affinity with social development finds its expression in many instances of community action, like the reintroduction of ‘commons’ owned by the municipality but left for the use of local initiatives, dating from the 1980s and still continuing.

The total ERDF support to this urban renewal programme amounts to €700 000, which corresponds to 22.4% of the total investment. Three projects are being supported: the depollution, the renovation of the sports hall and main renewal work on the streets and footpaths in the inner part of the neighbourhood.

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Technical information


Social cohesion for a transition town

Member State and Region

France - Pays de la Loire

Duration of project



Total budget: 3 125 000 € - ERDF contribution: 700 000 €

Cohesion Policy Objective

Competitiveness and employment

Managing Authority

Préfecture de la Région Pays de la Loire, Secrétariat Général aux Affaires Régionales (SGAR)

CCI nr of OP



Mrs Michèle Burnet

Director of land planning and urban development

CARENE Metropolitan Council (Communauté d’Agglomération de la Région Nazairienne et de l’Estuaire)




Integrated approaches, Social inclusion, Equal opportunities, Demographic change, Empowerment and participation