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The victory of the Jardins d’Aubervilliers

New twists...

The Paris Administrative Court of Appeal gave its approval on Thursday to the ambitious project to build a training pool in Aubervilliers, in Seine-Saint-Denis, with a view to the prestigious Paris 2024 Olympic Games. This news version of the project was developed in such a way as to preserve the precious allotment gardens which adjoin the site.

2024 Olympic Games Aubervilliers Gardens
Aubervilliers Gardens

Two amending permits were issued, making significant changes to the initial project. First, the restaurant that was originally planned was simply canceled. Then, the facilities which encroached on the area of the allotment gardens, in particular the mineral beach, the fitness and well-being area, as well as the solarium which were planned in the initial project, were discarded.According to information provided by the Paris Court of Appeal, the aquatic center, ideally located near Paris, must be completed on time to allow Olympic athletes to train there before the start of the events. Once the Olympics are over, the general public will also have the privilege of enjoying this remarkable infrastructure.However, from the start of the project, the location of the aquatic center, overlapping centuries-old allotment gardens, aroused the anger of environmental defenders, who engaged in a bitter legal battle to defend their cause.

The battle to preserve the gardens, the history...

After the first confinement, a real clap of thunder sounded: an Olympic swimming pool project, intended for the 2024 Olympic Games, emerged without warning. There were no warning signs of such an initiative, and yet here it is, ready to be implemented. According to forecasts, no less than 4,000 m2 of fertile land in Aubervilliers will have to be ruthlessly cleared and concreted to make way, among other things, for a solarium and a fitness area.

The project, supported by the Mayor of the city, as well as by Plaine Commune, the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, the State, the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis, the Grand Paris Aménagement program, the region Île-de-France, the City of Paris, the Olympic Committee and the Presidency of the Republic, threaten to wipe out nearly half of the 10,000 m2 of wooded areas, vegetation, insects and animals (including several dozen protected species) which make up the century-old gardens of Aubervilliers.

In Aubervilliers, a sad reality hits home: almost one in two residents lives below the poverty line. Nestled in the heart of a densely urbanized working-class neighborhood, where tower blocks rise by the dozens, the allotment gardens bring a welcome breath of nature, as well as a refreshing breath of freshness when temperatures reach peaks in summer. But their importance goes far beyond, because these gardens play a crucial role in allowing certain families to obtain fruits and vegetables at a lower cost.These green oases are true treasures for the local community, offering a peaceful refuge amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition to preserving an essential connection with nature, they represent a vital way for low-income families to meet their food needs without compromising their already tight budgets. In a difficult social context, these allotment gardens play a valuable role in bringing a little comfort and hope to those who need it most.

The project, already underway, planned to sacrifice 9,000 m² of the gardens, or 13% of their total surface area, in order to develop an Olympic swimming pool, a solarium and offices. However, the Paris Administrative Court of Appeal put a stop to this work by ordering the immediate suspension of activities on March 9, 2022.The conclusions emanating from the public inquiry carried out by Plaine Commune provide a new argument in favor of the defenders of allotment gardens. The opinion issued by the investigating commissioner, although advisory, states in particular that "the removal of approximately one hectare of gardens is far too important to be considered compatible with the Master Plan for the Île-de-France region (SDRIF )".These elements thus strengthen the position of the fervent protectors of these precious green spaces, highlighting the non-compliance with the regional master plan and pleading in favor of the integral preservation of these allotment gardens.

The determination of environmental activists was reflected in several impactful demonstrations, accompanied by an occupation of the premises, with the aim of maintaining constant pressure on the project promoters. At the same time, the Collective "Save the Gardens of Virtues" launched a petition which brought together nearly 100,000 signatories, all fervent defenders of the integral preservation of the gardens.These combined actions made it possible to make the voices of environmental protectors heard loud and clear, expressing their ardent desire to safeguard these natural spaces in their integrity. This unprecedented citizen mobilization has aroused increased public attention and put additional pressure on the various actors involved in the project.

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