AURH town planning agency of Le Havre and the Seine River Estuary area: An overview about who we are and what we do
Town planning and geography are our core business
AURH was created in 1965, as a French non-profit association.
We work for the « welfare » of the inhabitants of the city. We help politicians to understand the expectations of people (both in quantity and quality) and the evolution society is undergoing. We try to respond to these expectations and we propose solutions for transports, services, housing, employment... and the localization of all the components of the social fabric for a better (and sustainable) life. For instance: we try and cope with the issue of daily travel by commuters between their homes and their workplace.
Today, our president is the former mayor of the city of Le Havre, Mr Edouard PHILIPPE.
Fields of expertise
We have several fields of expertise: town planning, spatial planning, territorial mapping, territorial project assistance, set-up of economic observatories and specific surveys on transport, logistics, environment...
We are a multidisciplinary team of 25 people: architects, town planners, sociologists, transport specialists, landscapist, geographers, GIS specialists...
AURH is based in Upper-Normandy, in Le Havre. We are part of the French network of town planning agencies (www.fnau-international.org). There are about fifty town planning agencies in France (one per big city).
4 Main missions
The AURH works on the Seine River Estuary scale (since 2002) which is a pretty original territory because it exceeds the administrative borders of the Region. We work on both sides of Seine, both in Upper and Lower Normandy (2 administrative regions linked by the bridge of Normandy).
The Seine River Estuary has 600 000 inhabitants. It is a rich territory due to its diversity: ports, industry (on northern bank), famous seaside resort (with Deauville, Honfleur...).
We have 4 main missions:
- observing (the economy, real estate, population, housing market...)
- drawing up territorial projects, planning, local plans of town planning, masterplan
- conducting specific thematic studies (urban policy, housing, commerce, urban transport...)
- launching prospective studies: Seine Axis, European project...
Our membership: partners and sponsors
We closely work for and with our membership which are composed of partners like: city of Le Havre, towns around Le Havre (CODAH), Territories of the Seine Estuary, State services, Upper-Normandy, Lower-Normandie, The Chambers of Commerce, Port of Le Havre, Port of Rouen European Union... They are our customers, funders, and our partners. This is a
non exhaustive list.
We are not involved with the private sector. We work for (and with) cities, local authorities and for economic development organizations. We principally respond to briefs by elected officers, we help them clarify their thinking before they make decisions.
Our activity is not directly operational, we work with many actors at different stages and different timelines for the future of the territory. In fact we are a source of ideas for politicians (elected officers) and we often propose controversial and innovative point of view. It is also our role to provoke debates and raise up new ideas.
Different scales of Analysis
We can work at different scales: neighborhood, city, Seine River Estuary... For 3 years, we've been broadening our forecasting scale and we've working on the Seine River Valley from Paris to Le Havre, and North-West Europe.
Our vision: Seine gateway® project
The Seine Gateway project is proposed and supported by AURH. Today, it is our trademark. Indeed we are trying to build step by step the Seine Gateway, a scheme that is similar to the Extended Gateway in Belgium or the Thames Gateway in Great Britain.
What do we mean by gateway? The word comes from computing language and we choose to develop our definition of gateway in the goal to adapt this at a territory. The Seine Gateway should allow the opening on to the seaside of Paris.
The Seine Gateway is an efficient system of production and distribution. It is an efficient organization of the Seine River Valley territory, to foster a stronger production economy, transport infrastructures with efficient services, ports that start to work together, platforms for dispatching, processing and distributing of goods...
Like the Thames Gateway which has created a new model of development from the world city of London to its coastline and its estuary, the Seine Gateway proposes a new model of development for Paris towards its river frontage and its Norman coastline. The construction of the geostrategic position of the Seine Gateway is based both on the location of the axis Le Havre - Rouen - Paris and Normandy coast connected with all the coastal ports from Cherbourg to Dieppe.
European integration of the Seine Gateway®
At the continental scale, the project Seine Gateway is a part of the Western Europe system.
Since 2011, the AURH is engaged in European project called « Weastflows » (INTERREG IV B - North-West Europe).
The overall issue of Weastflows is to create better links (East-West) in Europe between territories, especially between our gateways, and also to create a network beyond the territorial competition. Weastflows has to be a kind of economic war machine facing the globalization of the economy. The Seine Gateway could be and must be a major part of this European network and an essential hub in the European transport system.
As a partner of this European project, our prior objective is to link the port of Le Havre and the Seine Gateway to the main European corridors of freight. Le Havre and the Seine River Estuary are often considered as a dead end territory, whereas it should be seen as a gate open onto the world.