Use of planning and project approaches in the development of agglomerations.

Summary of the discussions of the 2007 session, Liège

Roger Hagelstein, 2007

The fifth international platform for exchanges in the field of urban agglomerations (note) 1 aimed to co-produce an introspective questioning, with a view to prospective reflection, by comparing the points of view of three types of actors: practitioners of the agglomeration project, university researchers and elected officials. As in previous editions, the platform brought together participants from Canada (Quebec), France, Switzerland and Belgium. The exchanges brought together the experiences of the cities of Basel, Besançon, Lausanne, La Louvière, Liège, Montreal, Saint-Etienne and Tournai. Representatives of administrations and bodies at local or higher level, ministerial cabinets, local elected officials and partner universities in the network actively contributed to the collective reflection.

1. Introduction

During the preparatory work (note) 2, it appeared relevant to compare the experiences of each other on the taking into account of the problems of mobility, its challenges, its constraints and its potential, in the government of urban areas. . Indeed, the platform offered the opportunity to re-examine the foundations of the policies carried out in the various cities, to identify innovative planning and management approaches, to question their structuring effects from an economic, social, environmental or identity.

2. Terminological details

The meaning of the terms «   mobility  ", «   travel  ", «   transport   » can take different meanings depending on the national context. These ambiguities were gradually resolved during the platform. As Patrice Aubertel and Claire Gillio (note) 3 indicate, these three terms could appear in the form of nesting dolls that fit into each other.

The term «   transports   » is the narrowest meaning. So-called « transport » policies are often characterized by support for public transport aimed at countering the controversial effects of increasing car use (urban fragmentation, pollution, urban sprawl, etc.). Wallonia, like Switzerland and France, is familiar with company transport plans, freight transport plans and even school transport plans. The objective of these documents is to optimize the functioning of transport by an approach allowing, within a company, a community or an administration, to promote the use of alternative modes of transport to the private car. (public transport, cycling, walking, carpooling, etc.). They also aim to rationalize work-related travel (home-work, business travel, visits, etc.). Transport also concerns parking policies in the city, or at home and at work, urban logistics and distribution, the location of businesses and the organization of their accessibility.

An approach strictly limited to means of transport leads to opening up the field of concerns to an approach carried out in terms of «   trips ». A public travel policy integrates the territorial registration of activities. Reflections on this theme have shown that one of the most effective ways to restrict car use was to limit the number of parking spaces as much as possible, both in neighborhoods and in businesses. We note that this argument is often developed in the Company Mobility Plans of the Solidarity and Urban Renewal Law. This is also the bet that has been made at La Défense in Paris. Bet won since 90% of the 120,000 employees who work there use public transport. In Switzerland, two points attract more particular attention  : travel policies link the vocation of a territory to its accessibility (according to the A-B-C method of Dutch origin)  ; they also take into account traffic generation indices. We can point out, for example, the case of downtown Bern, where parking is scarce while 85% of users travel by public transport.

By integrating the behavioral dimensions of travel, a «   mobility   » approach is emerging. It starts from the observation that our lifestyles, of which mobility is an essential component, are collectively determined by individual choices. The analysis of these choices favors behaviorist approaches, but it must be admitted that they are also determined by state or economic orientations. Thus the car, a structuring element of our way of life, is individually desired and promoted collectively. The same goes for the single-family house.

Mobility therefore appears to be a factor of economic and social differentiation, which makes it an asset or a handicap depending on the directions taken. Mobility is therefore at the heart of debates on social inequalities and the environmental costs that must be borne. Making the city accessible to people with disabilities, children and aging people means eliminating everything that makes a city poorly accessible. The latest laws enacted in France continue this movement committed to ensuring that cities are not disabling.

On the spatial level, mobility leads to reconsidering the relevant areas of intervention for public policies: should we consider travel in the morphological agglomeration, the functional urban-peri-urban ensemble, the territory determined by the actual practices of commuters. The comparison of the perimeters highlights a strong distortion between the territories of the inhabitants-users and the territories of the institutions.

From a cross-sectional perspective, it seems that we have not sufficiently taken the measure of public transport, travel and mobility policies and their consequences on the quality of urban life.

In practice, the development of the platform was structured in two stages. The first day was devoted to discovering the issue of travel in the Liège metropolitan area as well as decoding the debates relating to the hypothetical development of an urban mobility plan, revealing a desire for stronger supracommunal cooperation. that seems to emerge.

The second day focused reflection on the challenges of mobility and the structuring effects they have on city government, a subject that had already been identified as a major concern during previous platforms held in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. , Namur, Toulouse and Basel. Three workshops were devoted to case studies (Lausanne, Montreal and Saint-Etienne)  ; these made it possible to compare the various approaches in order to identify forward-looking reflections.

The third day was devoted to a presynthesis. We then evaluated the progress of the platform. This restitution highlights the main lessons of the work (note) 5.

3. Liège, towards a pro-car agglomeration strategy?

Three introductory presentations made it possible to put into perspective the problems of travel in the agglomeration of Liège, the first Walloon metropolis, and in particular the strengths and weaknesses of the region in terms of transport infrastructure.

The mobility policy was oriented from the 1950s to the 1960s by functionalist objectives, three of which are underlined by Bernadette Mérenne-Schoumaker: better circulation, converting the economy and structuring the agglomeration. These objectives were based in particular on the somewhat euphoric assumption of supposedly limitless growth, supported by heavy infrastructures and a territorial organization maintaining a balance between the center of the city-center and the peripheral secondary poles. This is the time of the big transfers  : the university divests the center to set up on the Sart-Tilman plateau, the regional hospital abandons the banks of the Meuse to settle on the heights of the Citadel, the activity zones are located along the highways. The Liège region is experiencing more intense peri-urbanization than in its neighboring urban regions, facilitated by excellent accessibility by car. This results in new polarities. So how can we curb the «   natural   » growth in automobile traffic, which has been around 2% annually since 2000?

Following periods of economic recession linked to the closure of the coal mines and the decline of traditional industrial sectors, Liège has lost some 100,000 industrial jobs since 1961 but has gained nearly 65,000 jobs in the tertiary sectors. The region has undertaken its recovery around its potentialities  : a logistics pole emerging around the airport, the university and hospital sector, public administrations and education, industrial and commercial activity zones … This redeployment is based on recognized assets  : a favorable geographical location within the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (cross-border partnership with the neighboring cities of Maastricht, Aachen and Hasselt), efficient freight transport networks and operators, sectors research and innovation of international level, efficient inter-municipal reception structures, urban facilities and an urban life of proven quality. The sectors favored by public policies are mainly transport and logistics, micro-technology, aerospace, biotechnology, steel, and culture.

Recent economic and social changes are leading politicians to react to a growing dualisation of spaces, between valleys of old urbanization and recently occupied plateaus. The city-center of Liège had some 250,000 inhabitants in 1960, it numbered only 187,000 in 2006, resulting in a loss of demographic, economic and political influence. Five municipalities in the Meuse valley account for 80% of unemployment in the administrative district of Liège. They concentrate a very large proportion of disadvantaged neighborhoods in the agglomeration, many brownfields and heavily degraded areas.

The presentations by Jean-Marie Halleux, Jean-Marc Lambotte and Jean-François Leblanc clarify this diagnosis with regard to the challenges of mobility seen at national, regional and local scales. The agglomeration, which currently has 485,000 inhabitants, is today faced with difficulties in the management of the territory at the supracommunal level which are manifested by antagonistic positions when we approach the debates in terms of travel and travel policy. infrastructure to be developed. Voices are being raised to demand a more effective supra-municipal consultation structure (note) 6. Indeed, the merger of the municipalities carried out in 1977 finally appears to be irrelevant to the current issues, and there is an urgent need to adopt concerted policies in terms of mobility, but also economic development, social action, major facilities or still environment. Many actors in the urban area are speaking out against the game of competition that takes place between central or peripheral municipalities, the shortcomings of a vague regional positioning, the absence of a major unifying project. The development plan for the Liège area [[The SDEL is a development and planning plan for the territorial area affected by the closure of the tools of the hot phase of Arcelor, mainly focused on the Meuse valley .]], extended by the action of the Groupement de revival économique du pays de Liège (note) 7 (GRE-Liège) attempts to remedy these shortcomings but remains essentially confined to the central territories of the valley in crisis and to the problematic of an economic reconversion which is sought. Paradoxically, this project revealed the fundamental differences that exist within the political elites of Liège on a potential common future.

4. An informative exploratory visit

The participants in the platform made a visit of the agglomeration which made it possible to understand the context of the city-center, of the Meuse valley as well as of two poles of activity, the logistics pole of the airport of Bierset and the Sart-Tilman university campus.

Liège is notable for its characteristic valley relief, crossed by the Meuse, the Ourthe and its diversion which animate the central districts of the agglomeration. The many vestiges of declining industrialization bear witness to a bygone economic dynamism  ; they also indicate the difficulties of a retraining which is still in the making, despite recent remarkable achievements.

Walking through the city, we immediately discover its peculiarities (site, landscapes, heritage), constraints (relief, river, bridges), mobility facilities mainly focused on car-mobility. The exploratory visit revealed the various projects in progress, the overall consistency of which does not seem, at first glance, to be assured. Recent developments in urban neighborhoods help improve the fluidity of automobile traffic while providing high-quality spaces for pedestrians.

The new Liège TGV station was then completed, the municipality struggling to bring to fruition projects aimed at organizing its surroundings, controlling its effects on neighboring districts, on the quays of the Meuse and on the whole of the lower town.

The Walloon Region is pursuing airport development projects (new logistics hubs in the agglomeration) and motorways (Cerexhe-Heuseux - Beaufays motorway ring road, supposed to complete the eastern ring road) which risk reinforcing trends towards exurbanization.

Some municipalities on the outskirts are waiting for the construction of this missing link in the motorway ring road to promote housing, shopping centers and areas of economic activity of local interest. Other municipalities, on the contrary, want to preserve the quality of their environment by pushing back environmental nuisances, and particularly those of mobility by car, towards neighboring entities …

Obviously, there is a difficulty in thinking globally about coherent travel management projects. Finally, if the public bus transport network is particularly well used in the city center (note) 8, some users, relayed in this by local elected officials, are calling for new public transport infrastructure in order to better serve public transport. hospitals, university sites, shopping centers or other economic activities located on the periphery.

5. The challenges and purposes of mobility

The route taken has highlighted an organization of networks which clearly favors car-mobility: little or no traffic congestion is combined with a loss of priority for non-motorized users and strong pressure from the car in space. public. Liège, a pro-car city, could be cited as a model if one is exclusively interested in the optimization of traffic infrastructure. Despite this observation, twenty-four municipalities of Greater Liège have taken the initiative to jointly ask the regional Minister of Transport to start work on a concerted urban mobility plan.

Indeed, despite a tacit and lasting consensus around a requirement of unrestricted accessibility-car, mainly oriented towards central municipalities, mobility remains at the heart of debates on the future of the agglomeration. The presentations and the visit highlighted some key issues:

In other words, the functional territories linked to the use of the city by the actors no longer coincide with the institutional territories which regulate the competences and the decision-making processes. Where is the debate around economic, social, environmental and cultural issues taking place? What attitude do the various actors concerned adopt in the absence of a supracommunal institution in charge of these matters? The answers provided by the people of Liège present revealed a certain dismay at the scale of the stakes and a lack of control over the decision-making spheres which seem to escape the municipal representatives. The result is a certain fatalism on the part of local representatives. We can also note the absence of an undisputed leader who would rally the approval of a majority of elected officials or citizens. But who is assuming the government of the agglomeration? Why isn’t there a citizen participation process around debates on mobility, with a view to a concerted project?

At the end of the visit, the diagnostic elements which strike the visitor were confirmed by the people of Liège present in the discussion. The developments in some central neighborhoods indicate a certain «   roughness   » of the pedestrian space favorable to mixing with car traffic. Nevertheless, we are struck by a juxtaposition of developments designed by «   modes   » and not by «   uses  ", the latter often being more conveying a vision of an agglomeration. There is often a lack of a hierarchy of strategic places to be developed by priority, which would imply a vision of an agglomeration. Some suggest that the strategy of major projects observed in Liège hides a lack of local appropriation projects. Several speakers are also wondering about parking strategies and land strategies correlated with mobility.

Several assumptions have been made and are called into question  :

A number of questions relate to the image that positively or negatively characterizes certain modes of transport, as well as culturally accepted or denigrated lifestyles. Thus, the negative image of the city-center, receptacle of all evils, is perceived as a foil by certain populations who in this way self-justify the model of suburban housing (the villa «   four facades  ") characteristic of peri-urbanization.

Finally, it seems that we have not yet taken stock of the fundamental changes that are taking place in terms of mobility, particularly with regard to the use of private cars. Should we not develop a capacity for anticipation, for example by considering the appearance of wasteland, the decommissioning of certain quays developed as expressways, the closing of tunnels, etc.

6. Debate with local elected officials

The debate with three elected officials from Greater Liège municipalities (note) 9 confirmed the above diagnostic elements and highlighted the following elements.

The municipalities are the driving force behind the definition of strategies for travel, land use planning and the environment; but, due to a structural lack of funding from local authorities, it is the Walloon Region which is the essential donor in these matters. In the Belgian model, there is a situation of organized dependence between municipalities deemed to be “  poor  ” and regional authorities considered to be “  rich  ”.

The management of an agglomeration like Liège is a matter of institutional tinkering. The municipalities are confined to long-term visions of their development (municipal land use plans, mobility plans) according to local interests  ; simultaneously, they are required to respond to specific requests on a daily basis.

The presuppositions are indeed fraught with consequences. We note the danger of raising the debate on urban mobility on the basis of a hypothetical economic reconversion. Another presupposition postulates that the realization of a structuring public transport (the tram) is certainly a solution to the problems of Liège. How to arouse the debate, how to create governance at the supracommunal level  ?

We underline the gradual shift of the debate on the management of mobility towards the concern of a stronger integration of transport and territorial development policies. In France in particular, we have successively known traffic plans, then travel plans (including public transport), then thematic plans (including among others an environmental component)  ; according to a recent development, the law on Solidarity and Urban Renewal provides for the articulation of the territorial coherence plan and the urban travel plan.

Through these different transformations, a question remains  : how do we produce coherence in the planning process  ? This is not a priori guaranteed as soon as the operational framework is not integrated into the planning procedures.

The French approach places the development of the urban travel plan at the supracommunal level. What is the added value of this postulate which considers that the articulation of displacement and development policies is part of an agglomeration dynamic? From experience, it seems that this dynamic is not necessarily a source of consensus. It appears rather ambivalent. However, practice shows that the debate at the agglomeration level contributes to this dynamic. The debate around the challenges of mobility and development implies an understanding of the actors, listening to the problems encountered by each other, the establishment of a dialogue around the goals of a development project. Sometimes, unifying projects emerge  : creation of tram lines, TGV stations, new concepts for slow modes,… These projects are all unique opportunities which make it possible to increase the capacity to act collectively. They constitute levers which make it possible to initiate, through an iterative learning process, other broader actions: defining territorial objectives, redeveloping a city center, carrying out coherent environmental policies, etc.

At the end of the debate, it appears that attempts to coordinate local mobility policies do not create the agglomeration effects sought in Liège. The management of travel by municipalities concerned with maintaining municipal autonomy does not currently produce a mobilizing effect but rather has destructuring effects on the territorial organization. Attempts to pool thoughts do little to change mentalities and do not produce an explicit collective identity.

7. From the paradigm of normative planning to the paradigm of inductive action

One thing is clear. The City of Liège travel plan, like most strategic documents for urban areas, is primarily based on a Cartesian planning approach. This approach combines rational thought, the finality of which is a certain conception of the common good, with the resulting program of actions. Due to the inevitable time lag between the first and the second, unforeseen requests inevitably appear which tempt the opportunism of certain decision-makers, at the risk of contradicting the consistency initially sought. The ideal sequence which connects a diagnosis, a definition of objectives, planning devices and actions is then undermined by internal contradictions. The benevolent planner paradigm does not work, neither in Liège, nor elsewhere in Switzerland, France or Canada.

Without opposing this planning logic to a logic of opportunity, it seems however that it is necessary to move away from a plan or program approach to adopt a project approach, if we want to boost cooperation within agglomerations.

What are the causes of this innovative trend  ? We must first look for a cause in the time constraints of the actors. The elected official’s time is constrained by the expiration of public mandates (6 years at municipal level in Belgium) and which lead him to set realistic objectives within short political time horizons. The planning time is a much longer time (10 to 15 years for the duration of a «   plan  ") which does not necessarily correspond to the agenda of elected officials. Finally, there is the temporality of the action (1 to 2 years or more) which is often part of the opportunity to be seized, the vagaries of the availability of public resources, or the contingencies of governance.

In this game of multiple temporalities, the hierarchical logic that articulates objectives, planning measures and concrete actions is not very effective.

Are we therefore doomed to build an agglomeration project using opportunities, step by step, using a trial and error method? As some participants in the platform suggest, it is sometimes necessary to accept to relinquish the global vision, too far removed from the pragmatic concerns of citizens, to decide on a timely action or a bundle of concordant measures, because these can have a negative effect. leverage on long-term strategy. An objective, a strategic perspective, a finality can be combined with the immediate opportunity to found a «   great urban project ». The Liège TGV station or the reintroduction of a tram network might be an application of this new paradigm of inductive action. The reconversion of a disused site (the Arcelor site in the Seresian valley for example) can also become an opportunity if it is oriented by a strategic aim. However, this approach implies that negotiated and shared objectives are predefined and that there is an agreement of action (in an informal mode possibly) which allows to «   seize   » the opportunity.

What are the places that make it possible to found these objectives and to make convention? On what stage is the vision of the agglomeration’s future debated, where the beliefs shared by different actors are confronted and the common values ​​are expressed? In Liège, such a scene seems to be lacking, or in any case, the actors involved are not all involved in the reflection. It should be noted, however, that there is a core of activists in the metropolis, but they are struggling to make themselves heard.

And what are the heuristic assumptions to be debated? Mobility does not appear as an object to be optimized as such but rather as a component and asset of economic, social and environmental development.

The implementation of an integrated co-management of mobility, both potentiality and shared constraint, proceeds by successive approaches by gradually eliminating the alternatives and keeping a limited range of solutions tending towards the one that would be optimal. Could this heuristic approach be applicable to the political construction of the agglomeration?

The case of the city of Tournai illustrates this dialectic between long-term planning and short-term opportunity. There is a consistency of problems and issues. This average city of 67,000 inhabitants is located in the Lille metropolitan area, in Belgian territory. The planning of the Lille metropolis focuses development on a north-south partnership involving Lille, Roubaix, Mouscron and Courtrai. These patterns are set apart from the metropolitan area of ​​Tournai and its thirty or so village cores. Transport policies reflect this lack of interaction between the city-center and this secondary hub. As a result, opportunities could not be seized  : construction of a VAL line, compensatory measures within the framework of the TGV, train-tram project between Lille and Tournai… This reflects a form of competition between the urban centers in the within the metropolis, the negative effects of which are felt on the stage of the actors. Recently, debates around economic development issues linked to the upgrading of the European inland waterway network (Seine-Nord, Scheldt, Lys link) have revived conflicts of interest.

Collective reflection tends to demonstrate that we should not oppose the conduct of agglomerations by planning visions or by projects of opportunity. Some consider that it is necessary to use contextual elements, such as a project attracting regional, national or European funding, to promote new practices of supracommunal cooperation, according to global orientations negotiated within the framework of planning. Others observe that any partnership within the framework of actions of opportunity - whether it is agreements between municipalities, municipalities-region or municipalities-State - is by nature conflictual but that this situation can prove to be stimulating. For the development.

We must also be wary of any dualism in this matter. Taking up the concept of “  line of flight  ” developed by Gilles Deleuze (note) 10, planning could appear as the hard line, that of the power devices which determine a destiny to be accomplished, a vocation to be achieved. The flexible lines are different but float around the hard lines without questioning them  : we think of one-off actions which “  transgress  ” the hard line but without compromising its purpose. The line of flight would rather be a real break with past orientations. Through events or opportunities, lines of flight do not define a future but open the way to a future. They initiate an uncontrollable process, the purpose of which remains to be defined, a project that is difficult to plan but emancipating and liberating.

We must avoid the Manichaeism of seeing on the one hand the wicked hard planning or regulating lines and on the other the good innovative vanishing lines. We certainly need rigid and standardized frameworks that allow the sustainable functioning of systems and institutions. But sometimes you have to transgress the framework and experiment to progress. The step to undermine these lines is delicate because it is not only against the state and the institutions in place but also involves questioning oneself.

This dialectic of planning and action leads us to compare the approaches of the elected official and the technician. We can identify, as technicians do, «   issues   » and develop plans that sometimes are hardly in line with the action  ; the situation is different with the recognition of «   challenges », of tensions, of contradictions which direct action along a line of flight. The challenge is convention in the sociological sense of the term and can mobilize the capacities to act. We think of the challenge of long-term development, or the challenge of a large urban project. How to mobilize these networks of actors who will have the capacity to make convention?

8. Different perspectives on the agglomerations of Lausanne, Montreal and Saint-Etienne

The workshops offered in Lausanne, Montreal and Saint-Etienne have developed an analysis that indicates the same ability to federate networks of actors on a major metropolitan project. Among the activists of the metropolis, «   project leaders   » are able to bring out a common ambition and build networks of actors around them. In all three situations, there is a capacity for coordination and action based on shared experimentation.

First of all, the agglomeration demonstrates its capacity to act. But secondly, you have to capitalize on the first actions, go beyond a first project. This mobilizes learning capacities and approaches to take ownership of action projects by the various actors involved. Institutional questions then come back to perpetuate this innovative dynamic which was initiated by the experience of the large urban project. We recall the debates held previously concerning the institutional approach of the city of Friborg or the development councils and their role in urban agglomeration projects in France.

Case studies from Lausanne, Montreal and Saint-Etienne show that the issue of travel has been a factor in the development of intermunicipal co-operation. This factor is most often stimulated by the prospect of a financial windfall offered by the state and which could contribute to a significant improvement in the living environment for all. This is true for regions where there is a legal agglomeration structure (agglomeration communities or communities of municipalities in France, metropolitan community in Quebec) as well as for those where agglomerations have only an informal structure (Switzerland and Belgium). ). We can also observe that the development of technical planning or action tools constitutes an apprenticeship for elected officials as well as for technicians in charge of urban areas, sometimes involving representatives of civil society (representative bodies, unions, associative movements). ,…). These tools are generally based on a set of objectives, standards or negotiated actions. A common fact to underline is that investing in an urban agglomeration approach constitutes for some elected officials a real opportunity for their political career, which is also a factor in the development of inter-municipal communities.

In Montreal, although the size of the agglomeration is clearly greater than the other cases studied, the problems are posed to the same extent: urban sprawl, loss of population in central areas, weak demographic growth. The financing of agglomeration charges (in particular those of public transport) and the deficiencies of governance were a trigger for the process of creation of the metropolitan community in 2001. Today, the financial stakes are vectors of a vision of concerted agglomeration. As everywhere, the articulation of transport and regional planning policies arouses its share of consensus and dissension. The path of partnership between public actors is favored to encourage long-term structuring actions.

In Lausanne, the implementation of urban agglomeration projects is an incentive, not an imposition, by the Confederation, within the framework of a contractual policy which defines the rules of the game between actors. Projects in the fields of transport, development or the environment were initiated by a set of municipal actors at the outset, with the attraction of significant federal funding. In this case, the canton has decided to impose a perimeter for reflection for the coordination of the various transport policies carried out locally. This imposed perimeter was the subject of strong disputes, which had the effect of organizing local actors. Gradually, this pooling has helped to bring together the points of view of the actors involved.

Unlike the cantonal master plan, which has regulatory value, the master plan drawn up at the level of the Lausanne agglomeration has no legal basis. It is not binding, but nevertheless constitutes a firm commitment from the partners. The central objective is to establish real coordination between urban development and transport. The plan includes a programmatic component which tends to primarily develop soft mobility. The funding opportunities have had two remarkable effects  : on the one hand, the concretization of the agglomeration dynamic initiated by the realization of concrete projects  ; on the other hand, the co-financing of actions by the municipalities, the canton and the state.

However, there is nothing to confirm that the organization of the Lausanne agglomeration has an effect on individual travel behavior. But there is a proven effect of the travel policies that are carried out on urban organization. From this point of view, the strategies relating to the mobility of goods and people “  make  ” agglomeration.

In Saint-Etienne, the development of an urban travel plan by the agglomeration community has produced two positive effects to underline  : on the one hand, the construction of an agglomeration brings a positive financial contribution when it makes it possible to collect state aid  ; on the other hand, the development of a project on the scale of the agglomeration has the effect of prioritizing and prioritizing a certain number of actions which are undoubtedly necessary in the general interest. This is the case with the development of public transport in Lausanne, or the Saint-Etienne urban travel plan. This capacity for action also gives better visibility to the added value provided by the co-management of projects at the agglomeration level. It is all the more evident when it articulates transport and regional planning policies.

However, the approach that is driven by reflection on transport, the development of a planning document or leverage actions sometimes runs out of steam when it comes to negotiating political agreements on the common future. Integration into a growing agglomeration does not happen on short time scales. One thinks in particular of the forecasts in terms of land use planning, the environment or land policy which put the various institutional territories in competition.

For some, however, it seems essential to couple planning institutions (which hold the key to legal matters and standards) and programming institutions (which activate financial resources and concrete projects). It is regrettable, for example, that the intercommunal unions of territorial coherence schemes in France only have a normative role, without impact on actions or budgets. In the case of the agglomeration of Nyon, the master plan which associates the city-center and the peripheral municipalities does not include any programming or investment tool  ; however, the sectoral policies of the municipalities tend to be linked to the master plan of which they integrate the priorities.

The workshops finally shed new light on the Liège reality

The question of opportunities is very present in Liège  : TGV station, closure of the hot phase of Arcelor, development of an eastern motorway bypass, reintroduction of the tramway … Nevertheless, none of these actions seems to be able to bring out a major unifying project. We do not seem to have identified the scenes where such a project could be started, nor the actors who would carry such a project. We could cite the conference of the mayors of the agglomeration, the municipal council of the city-center, the municipal consultative committees for regional planning or urban renewal, the inter-municipal economic development company, etc.

These bodies are called upon on an ad hoc basis, either for micro-projects or for long-term visions that are not discussed. A city project has been developed by the municipality of Liège but has not been concerted with neighboring municipalities. How then to transform a self-proclaimed «   object   » into a potential for action, how to open a debate and together draw a line of flight  ?

In the specific case of the agglomeration of Liège, an interesting avenue could be the recourse to external actors who could initiate a «   agglomeration therapy », in order to unblock the current almost lethargic situation. However, we must not complicate the game of actors and suggest evasions.

We must also wonder about the real role of the Region and the federal state in the game of competition between territories and their underlying strategies. New forms of cooperation need to be put in place.

Several observations result from the exchanges made during the workshops.

In summary, we note the continuing observation that local authorities (municipalities) generally fail to cooperate effectively. In the four countries, the intervention of external bodies (canton, county, region, state, etc.) is necessary to create development opportunities and thus change the game of actors.

The phenomenon of urban sprawl, everywhere present, leads to reflect on travel policies as a means of regulating territorial transformations. The supply of transport, land use planning, urban renewal, land management were cited in the different situations because these public initiatives have a real regulatory effect on the agglomeration. But these effects are still hardly noticeable.

In the different situations, we observe two differentiated approaches to the problem  : the «   behaviorist   » approach and the «   structuralist   » approach. The first way tries to conduct a fundamental reflection on the behavior of the inhabitants-users, without excluding the structuring effects linked to the public policies which are carried out (transport, development, environment). But this approach relativizes the impact of behaviors by reference to other individual factors. The second path favors the approach of mobility through the analysis of the territorial organization, among others the locations of activities (shopping centers, employment areas, residential districts, etc.). It advocates integrated urban planning that re-deploys diversity and proximity in the neighborhoods. Government action in this area is undoubtedly having an effect, but to what extent is it structuring?

Finally, we are faced with a set of actors and social practices that make the impacts of mobility uncertain. All agglomerations are therefore forced to experiment with systems whose effects on users (mobility as a factor of discrimination or social exclusion, for example) or on the public policies carried out (the impact of mobility on land and housing policies, for example).

It therefore seems that a simultaneously global and local approach is necessary, combining pragmatism of action and prospective planning. This dual inductive and deductive approach allows better consideration of the reality of an emerging agglomeration in public policies.

9. Conclusion  : does mobility create agglomeration?

At the end of the platform’s work, the initial question was asked again  : does mobility create agglomeration  ? There is no clear answer to this question, but several avenues for reflection have been outlined.

The ambiguity of the meanings given to the terms «   transport   » - «   travel   » - «   mobility » manifests more than a distinction between local legal and administrative jargons.

The organization or management of transport in agglomerations is essentially governed by the guidelines given by public policies. In the various situations encountered, the innovative projects that are implemented effectively seem to strengthen supra-municipal cooperation. But at the same time they generate dissension and conflict. The realization of collaborations and the management of conflicts contribute to the emergence of an agglomeration government. Among all the competences of the public authorities, transport brings together a large number of players, at all territorial levels, which it is possible to unite around concerted action. Moreover, we note that a certain number of institutional constructions of agglomerations arose from the opportunity of a transport infrastructure project. One question remains: how transport infrastructure policies work together to make convention and act on the city.

Controlling travel refers to an ambivalence in the very concept of an agglomeration, sometimes understood in its sense of a functional territory for inhabitants-users, sometimes in the sense of an inter-municipal structure in charge of the government of an institutional territory. The travel policy therefore calls for multiple skills which are the responsibility of numerous public and private actors  : for example, we are targeting initiatives taken in the areas of housing, employment, shopping centers, location of companies, the environment, etc. and transport. Travel management is not the result of a single policy, but of a bundle of actions that are not necessarily coordinated. We also note that travel is generally the basis of the very definition of territories (urban regions, territory of work-study migrants, functional agglomeration, etc.). So, is it the inhabitant, the user, the citizen, the elected official or the technician who determines the relevant territory for carrying out public policies on the scale of a defined perimeter? Does the agglomeration merge with the city’s user base, a territory whose outlines are always blurry and shifting? Nothing is less sure. The issue of the coordination of public policies, often mentioned during this platform (SCOT, PLH, PLU, PTU, etc.) raises the question of the interweaving of multiple intervention areas of public action, always out of step with to the user’s territories.

Mobility appeared to be an encompassing concept, and therefore disturbing. It is more a potentiality of urban space that is sometimes expressed by the notions of accessibility or motility. Mobility makes the territory, but perhaps not the agglomeration. It arises more in terms of a challenge to be taken up, generating a social bond or exclusion, than an object to be organized. Mobility questions decision-makers on the goals of the development of the territory, on the underlying values ​​and calls out to the common denominator between the actors involved. It is paradoxical to observe two opposing strategies which guide concrete actions in terms of mobility: on the one hand, by acting concretely in urban space, we seek to create spatial proximity while promoting, on the other on the one hand, a freedom to move which arouses social non-solidarity. The concept of mobility leads to the rejection of a strictly functional territory, which would come under the sole competence of the public authorities, in favor of a more complex urban territory, structured in networks, which would produce solidarity and inclusion. It must be noted that institutional territories are being battered by this ongoing change.

During the platform, we often underlined the mobilization dynamic provoked during an agglomeration project, underlining the «   institutional tinkering » that this process calls for. In terms of governance, it also emerges from the reflections that the conduct of the territorial project taking advantage of instantaneous opportunities can advantageously be combined with the production of long-term strategic goals. This is a process that creates debate, confrontation and collective project. A new stage must be organized for the debate to take place.

These findings refer to a scheme proposed in Namur (2004) which marked out the field of possibilities in terms of supracommunal partnership. As we have already seen, supra-municipal cooperation involves a functional dimension (organizing the territory) and a relational dimension (living better together) which require time and experimentation. The question of the collective learning process, experimenting step by step with new forms of interaction, deserves to be asked with regard to the control of movement in urban areas. More than in other areas, travel management, a very sensitive issue for the populations, gives rise to real political will for collaboration. But on the contrary, it sometimes constitutes an additional stumbling block for the dynamic of building an agglomeration. The Liège platform will have shown that these difficulties can be overcome provided that two essential conditions are met: a political will for cooperation and a controlled collective learning process.

(note) 1 The platform was organized with the financial support of the Economic and Social Council of the Walloon Region, the City of Liège, TEC Liège-Verviers and the Walloon Minister of Housing, Transport and Territorial Development . It was co-organized by the Study Department in Fundamental and Applied Economic Geography (SEGEFA) of the University of Liège and by the Center for Regional Planning Studies (CREAT) of the University of Louvain.

(note) 2 Contributed in particular to the preparation of the fifth platform  : Patrice Aubertel (PUCA-DGUHC), Paul Boino (IUL-Lyon 2), Louis Boulianne (CEAT-EPFL), Claire Gillio (PUCA-DGUHC ), Françoise Goudet (PUCA-DGUHC), Roger Hagelstein (CREAT-UCL).

(note) 3 P. Aubertel, C. Gillio, Synthesis of the fifth platform of agglomerations, working document, PUCA-DGUHC, March 2007.

(note) 4 See among others Kaufmann Vincent, Widmer Eric (2005) The acquisition of motility in families. State of the question and research hypotheses, Espaces et Sociétés 120-121, pp. 199-217.

(note) 5 This summary is provided under the responsibility of the author who was freely inspired by the presentations and discussions of the platform.

(note) 6 In the absence of a legally established agglomeration decision-making body, the agglomeration conference of mayors acts as an unofficial coordinating structure.

(note) 7 The GRE-Liège is a permanent forum of economic and social actors in the Liège region which attempts to coordinate, under the direction of a scientific committee and in consultation with the regional and provincial public authorities, the actions economic stimulus. It validates the projects then submitted to the executive committee.

(note) 8 According to J.-F. Leblanc, the public transport company TEC-Liège-Verviers transports half of Walloon travelers.

(note) 9 These were Madame Lhoest, alderman for town planning of the commune of Chaudfontaine (Reform movement), Mr. Cappa, alderman of the commune of Fléron (Socialist Party) and Mr. Castagne, municipal councilor of the city of Liège (Green Movement)

(note) 10 Among others Deleuze G., Guattari F., Mille Plateaux, Minuit, coll. «   Critique  ", Paris, 1980.

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