Called by the Urban Community of the “West Coast Territory” (TCO) to reflect on the issue of governance and operational implementation of the insular and tropical Ecocity project, an INTA peer-to-peer panel has been held on September 5-11, 2016, in Reunion Island and its follow up on June 13-14, 2016.
Panelists met no less than 45 local actors representatives of all parties involved or who might be involved in the future of the project: State (prefect, Sgar, Deal) Region, municipalities of TCO, TCO civil servants and elected officials, private and semi-private partners (SEM, SPL, SPLA, property developers, construction, retailers, media ...) which allowed them to understand the ownership and the value of a project of this scale and of this ambition on the island's territory. After 3 very dense and rich days of hearings, and based on the Sustainable Design Guide produced by TCO teams, the Panel met in conclave to prepare its recommendations that were publicly presented on Friday, September 11.
The panel, composed of practitioners and elected officials who work or have worked on complex urban projects (see its composition) wished to focus on 6 points to strengthen the operational implementation and provide all means to start a political and technical roadmap.
1/ TCO, consultation and involvement of elected officials
Build on strengths, achievements and skills of the territory means that the Territory of the West Coast (TCO) is an area of excellence that deserves an ambitious project as “the Agglomeration’s Heart”, labeled Ecocity.
Today, this area is a tremendous asset for the development and influence of the whole island of Reunion. It is part of a strategic development arc from St Denis to St Pierre.
To keep the ambitions of this project implies an evolution of governance, which requires recognition of the legitimacy of universal suffrage, territorial and economic, social and cultural forces. Enhancing the relevance of the agglomeration level, while respecting the identities of each of the territories, to give coherence and effectiveness in public policy requires an evolution of TCO’s competences.
2/ Building an innovative project: the insular and tropical Ecocité that mobilizes all territories
It means building on the richness and specificity of the territory to innovate. For example :
- Promoting circular and sharing economy
- Decarbonising the society
- Reintroducing the use, before the signs, in the heart of urban planning and architecture
- Protect the cradle of exceptional biodiversity
The Sustainable Design Guide can then be used to organize, plan and build. It is the bearer of an innovative and sustainable project and ensures consistency of the territory. It thus provides a flexible and scalable document for the implementation of a 5000ha project in a long timeframe.
The Sustainable Design Guide has a fresh look at the territory, transforming modes of city making, with a broader partnership and making innovation as the engine of the territorial project.
This requires a strategic response:
- Intensify existing urban fabrics
- Reclaiming derelict urban areas
- Shift of mono-functional business areas! Develop new urbanisations
> A habitat that fits to Reunion customs
> Traffic management and control
> Systematic road landscaping
> A mix of business / housing
But also being organised to manage complexity:
- Develop a horizontal approach that includes interventions of various kinds
- Organize actions in project mode on each geographic area
- Master the technical skills required for each kind of intervention
- Define the feasibility of each action to ensure the operational implementation
3/ A dedicated tool with specific missions
To ensure the implementation of the project, it seems necessary to put in place a strong projects management:
- Appoint a project manager directly under the political leadership of the Ecocity
- Apply the Sustainable Design Guide in terms of mission framework
- Come up with an engagement letter defining the Director’s powers and scope of authority
- Organize the relationship with TCO’s technical departments on thematic workshops
But also set up a real expertise in urban project management:
- Consolidate, complete and develop the expertise needed to mastery of complexity
- Conduct or pilot feasibility studies for each action
- Coordinate all of these actions in their temporal realization
- Optimize and make efficient the project mode approach
Advocating a specific tool is:
- Identify in one place all of the technical approaches of the project Ecocity
- Focus its work on the feasibility study and pre operational actions
- Allow other technical actors from other institutions and territories to contribute to the achievement of the great project
- Eventually, carry in-house a number of projects that no other operator would be likely to carry.
In this context, the Panel has advocated creating quickly a Public Local Company dedicated to the implementation of the Ecocity project, which will manage the specific nature of the project and its scalability; to keep the political leadership, the partnership management of the project and that will ensure the steering of innovation and development.
4/ The dedicated tool and its relationship with TCO and its partners: strengthen the project governance
The implementation of a project process must strengthen the political leadership, involve actors and mobilize technical services.
The Panel has therefore called for a political leadership strengthened by creating a Strategic Committee, which might gather all Mayors of the TCO (5 municipalities) and all relevant technical services, and a Select Committee that should be a real "decision-making machine".
The Strategic Committee, orientation, arbitration and decision body, allows the interface between the political leadership and the administrative directions.
It meets regularly with an agenda that allows to monitor and guide the progress of projects, and to take the necessary decisions.
Additionally, the Panel stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships (institutional, economic and financial) by creating a Partners Committee.
Finally a Project Group could be created as a forum for coordination of services for the implementation of the project.
The Project Leader manages the team and the Project Group, mobilizes and coordinates all contributors services to project success from an engagement letter based on the Sustainable Design Guide.
5/ The tempo of the implementation of the actions
A double classification is necessary in the implementation of actions: some of them that correspond to the management of urban services relate to TCO and municipalities responsibility; other concerning urban development and the implementation of the actions of investment and animation of the Ecocity should be driven by the dedicated tool (SPL).
Some actions require heavy investments and their results will only be visible in the mid or long term while other, less expensive, easier to implement can be immediately perceived by the population, by the actors to mobilize and can therefore be exemplary elements of attractiveness.
The tempo of the actions and their hierarchy in the implementation depends on the intersection of all these factors.
The operation on Cambaie is one of the founding acts of the project but will not be deliver in the coming years. It is the same for the light rail project.
In contrast, accompanying operations for the creation of housing and major urban redevelopment and equipment can fairly easily, quickly and emblematically show signs of the implementation of the ecocity Design Guide.
- Implementation annually the achievement of two or three public spaces or green areas or pedestrian paths, including giving them a theme like the Indian Ocean flora;
- Open for a short period every year and regularly few shared gardens spread over the whole territory;
- Setting historical and heritage value of the area could be realized quickly in the acquisition of the port houses and restoring one of them into, for instance, an Indian Ocean interpretation centre, or on the history of the territory ...
- Lighting and/or vegetation enhancement and creating a leisure area (bar, lounge, restaurant) with a breathtaking view of the harbor and the sea. This place could quickly become a very attractive site revealing the identity of the territory.
6 / Participation and consultation: the establishment of a territorial marketing approach supporting the image of Ecocity laboratory
The success of the Ecocity project will rely on the involvement and participation of all.
Sustainable development can not be conceived and implemented without consultation with residents and all stakeholders. Their participation is a key element to enable them to take ownership of the project both in terms of scope and identity, participate in writing of the Ecocity and the city of tomorrow.
The development of a Consultation Charter of Ecocity project could formalize the goals, means, actors and reports necessary, given that the primary objective is to develop the whole territory of Ecocity, to share the project but also accompany the evolution of uses (to the attractive coastline, moving from "Case à terre" to "case en l’air", take public transportation, etc.). Also, gradually acquisitions of land could be used to set up temporary facilities such "transitional development".
Particular attention could be given to the inhabitants and activities directly involved in the implementation phases of operations (ad hoc mediation, charter of clean worksite co-signed by the building and construction companies involved on behalf of the dedicated tool, other public and private contract owners and developers, transport information).
The success of a participatory consultation and ownership of a project of this magnitude involves the organization, well upstream of the regulatory participatory process, of a dedicated team (or specialized company) in territorial marketing, animation and communication, etc.
Follow up of the Ecocity project (June 13-14, 2016)
INTA went again in Reunion Island, on June 13-14, 2016, in order to follow up of the Ecocity project. INTA has established in its recommendations memorandum a "summary of the main principles" in order to create the SPL Ecocity : a regional and territorial dimension ; a long term public mission ; a functioning in commercial and financial terms and a large scale of intervention.
• Ecocity is a large urban project due to its large scale, in which the diversity of projects, the
est un grand projet urbain régional par son ampleur spatiale, dont la mixité des projets, the multiplicity of private and public actors, the overlapping of territorial scales make it to be a particularly complex project, the scale of a new town, intended to be built over several decades.
• Écocité has the vocation to become a territory of innovation, headline of the FrenchTech in numerous domains : biodiversity, tropical habitat, recycling, vernacular architecture, shared gouvernance and partnership between several territorial scales.
• The label Ecocity is an asset in the competition between territories.
What to remember from the experience of these scales is their duration and the necessary flexibility in the management in the long term project:
• To absorb the economic, social and political challenges (housing crisis, economic crisis, changes in the political balance...). These crisis can be overcome with the possibility to adapt the launched planning schedule, anytime, anywhere in the territory, a program launch schedule adapted to reality. The ultimate objective must be retained, but the intermediate scenario must change themselves.
• In order to seize anytime an unexpected opportunity, that could give a decisive impulse to the project. Indeed these parameters, organized in major urban projects, are land reserves able to host much faster than outside their perimeter, programs which wasn't plan at the beginning, of regional, national or international interest and also large companies.