A modern building in Rennes featuring balconies, Source: Depositphotos

Rennes forces developers to put balconies on every new building, thanks to Covid

Rennes forces developers to put balconies on every new building, thanks to Covid

The city has also drafted its citizens’ charter, one of the first such documents in France, to give extra power to the people

Just before Christmas, and as one of the last acts of the year, the Rennes metropolitan area council adopted a revised version of its municipal urban plan, which would force developers to always include a private outdoor space for every dwelling in a communal property. This means that every new apartment building in the French city (and taller than two floors) will have to feature balconies, patios or loggias.

The reason behind this amendment is the popular demand that arose in the wake of the Covid pandemic that every resident should have the right and option to open, fresh air space in the case of forced isolation. It’s a clear example of the way the pandemic has impacted urban planning in a European city.

Will the right to outdoor space become the norm everywhere?

What’s more, this past summer the heat wave that battered Western Europe added another potent reminder of the need to have access to fresh air for urban residents.

Outdoor spaces, such as balconies and terraces used to be a bonus selling point for developers, something considered a bit of a luxury, however, the changing circumstance in the environment and events like the COVID pandemic, have changed people’s minds to consider this not a privilege but a right.

The new metropolitan urban plan will require developers to provide private outdoor space of at least 4 square metres per dwelling. There will be a 10% tolerance for apartments in which such a layout is not possible. But in this case, the promoter will have to provide a common outdoor space for the inhabitants. In any case, being confined between four walls will not do anymore in the capital of the Britanny region.

It should be noted that the measure also concerns student accommodation, senior residences or homes for young workers. In this case, the rules are the same but the minimum area has been reduced to 3 m². 

Citizens’ charter in Rennes

The Rennes Metropole also ended its past year with the adoption of a citizens’ charter (charte de la citoyenneté), a document meant to make elected officials consider the wishes of local residents when they draft policies. The implementation of legal requirement for outdoor spaces was one such example that took place even before the chart was created.

The Rennes Metropole claims that this is the first such charter in a French city, though the website 20 Minutes claims that similar initiatives have already been implemented by other cities in the country. Whatever the case, this is meant to provide more agency and power for the citizens to influence their elected officials, apart from elections.

For instance, there will be a right of interpellation that will allow all people collecting 1,000 signatures to bring a particular question to the metropolis.



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