For the past year, Res publica has been supporting several projects to redevelop coastal towns that are well known to holidaymakers: La Baule-Escoublac, Le Touquet-Paris Plage and Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. These seafronts and their historic town centers are major public spaces for the identity of these seaside resorts, but also for the whole of their territories of influence. However, new uses (commercial, leisure and mobility) are having difficulty imposing themselves in order to renew the image of these areas. As a result, despite the attachment to these cult places, some users abandon their public spaces because of their lack of attractiveness, accessibility concerns due to pedestrianization (especially for people with reduced mobility) or competition from other commercial centers of influence. Issues already observed by our team in 2018, during the Granville 2030 consultation.
In reality, it is not easy to move from a tourist model dating from the 1970s and 1980s, based on the predominance of the car, to calmer public spaces, which will have a profound impact on the image of the city and its attractiveness for the next fifty years. Indeed, the projects must take up at the same time the challenges of attractiveness (tourist development, commercial dynamization, modernization of the city's image...) and those imposed by climate change (rising water levels, heat islands, energy consumption, sealing, modification of the coastline...).
This implies a strong transformation of the uses and habits of the inhabitants, year-round or secondary residents, and of the users:
The opportunity of these projects is hardly questioned, but they raise concerns that are expressed in the framework of the consultation: transformation of the habits of rapid access to the waterfront, accessibility of spaces for people with reduced mobility, creation of a possible vegetal screen, lack of parking and traffic lanes, loss of clientele, amount of investments, etc. Under these conditions, it is necessary to discuss the adaptation of the cities to the medium and long term stakes while answering the expectations and fears of the concerned public.
Whether it was to prefigure the specifications of the project manager, as in Le Touquet, or at each stage of the project's development, as in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and La Baule, the citizens began by carrying out their diagnosis of the project's challenges: what works today? what needs to change? They then debated with the designers and elected officials throughout the development of the project. This citizen's work made it possible to seek consensus, without denying the divergences, around expectations, recommendations and proposals for specific actions.
During the exchanges on the future of our seaside cities, two diametrically opposed visions are opposed: