The ambitious project through which Paris Gare du Nord should have tripled its surface by 2023 has the building permit blocked. The constructor is optimist, but there are poor chances that works are ready before the Olympic Games in 2024, as the French committed.
Commission Départementale d’Aménagement Commercial (CDAC), the County Commission for Commercial Development, has given a negative opinion to the extension by 16,321 square metres of the shopping area inside Gare du Nord. However, this extension is one of the components of the transformation the railway station must undergo. It is a gigantic project that should be ready by 2024 for the Olympic Games in Paris.
Carried out by an association of Auchan, through its subsidiary Ceetrus (66%) and SNCF Gares & Connexions (34%), the modernisation of Gare du Nord will have to allow a three-fold increase of the surface by 2023 for EUR 600 million reaching to a total area of 100,000 square metres to meet traffic demand. The project envisages adding a separate building to mark off train departures and arrivals. The commercial and services areas should also extend, especially in the restaurants area.
StatioNord wants to launch works this year
But it was precisely this commercial area that did not like CDAC, a commission which must give a verdict on the main commercial projects. The commission is chaired by the prefect and includes local authorities and urban planning experts. Its negative opinion has a concrete consequence: the prefect cannot issue a construction permit. For the modernisation of the railway station, the request for a construction permit was submitted last spring and the consortium, called StatioNord, bet on a rapid release of the document in order to launch works before the end of the year.
“CDAC’s negative opinion does not affect the project calendar. We have anticipated and integrated this type of administrative decision in our general planning”, the company guarantees. The regulations in force stipulate a one-month deadline before submitting an appeal, followed by other four months to make a new decision. Currently, the company relies on a new decision by the end of November, followed by a construction permit at the end of 2019 or the beginning of next year, at the latest.
The company’s officials recall that a similar project, the rehabilitation of Montparnasse Rail Station carried out by Altarea Cogedim developer has faced a similar obstacle before winning on appeal. “StatioNord is thus carrying on the project in close collaboration with the prefecture and Paris Municipality”, the group assures.
Europacity project is also delayed
Ceetrus – former Immocham – is blocked in another enormous project, the construction of Europacity, a huge recreational and commercial park north-east of Paris. Developed in association with Chinese group Wanda, the project pendulates between administrative rejections and approvals and faces political and ecological oppositions.
Regarding Gare du Nord, in spring, the contract between Ceetrus and SNCF was submitted to public consultation to the neighbourhood residents in order to evaluate the integration of the modernised rail station into the area. Without considering the basic principles of the project, the public consultation has brought several amendments among which a wider surface of green spaces than that planned initially, but also keeping a post office inside the rail station.