Luxembourg – New Capital of Europe Needs urgent Planning Reform to Expand Housing

As many cities in Europe are seeing falls in house prices one major exception is Luxembourg City – whose financial sector goes from strength to strength.  It has a workforce of over 400,000 people but a population of only 110,000 (though growing from 87,000 in 2007) in commuting levels where in Europe only Cambridge is compatible.  Similarly it is clogged with medoum-long distance communities from surrounding villages (and even countries) and has huge problems of housing affordability.   

Many financial sector firms in London are sniffing out potential sites in the city, already incredibly the number two site in the world for private banking.

The system planning problems are familiar.

The city commune is underbounded.

The development plan is a pure zoning plan with no proper strategic plan on the cities growth needs.  Nothing wrong with zoning as long as you zone for new housing in the right places with the right connections.  The plan however proposes two limited areas for expansion which wont cope with the growth rate.  One of which at Cesange has started (at four story density, the sourronding two storey housing areas have not yet advanced so much)).

What is worse under political pressure they reezoned in 2016 many areas close to the centre from multifamily to single family.  Areas notably popular with elites.














The city itself sites within a bowl at the confluence of rivers and has sought to maintain containment within the bowl , much of the centre is a world heritage site and protected forests lie to its north, however pressures have been displaced, much like Cambridge, to surrounding villages.

Clearly the future of the City needs to be seen as a national priority rather than simply a communal one, difficult in a country where the autonomy of communes is closely guarded.

The scope for intensification in the centre is limited.  The old town has lost some areas to bland mid 20th century offices.  There are and has been intensification along some corridors and to the South, North East and West of the Old Town. The obvious area for intensification is the Cents neighbourhood immediately to the East of the centre which only has a population of 3,200.  Controversial as it is the area with the lowest proportion of no Luxembourg residents.  Modern form based zoning rather than the old style euclidean zoning could help mange this intensification.

The city has five rail lines radiating, and with modern signalling there is potential for a modern rapid transit system, especially as the lines pass through rather than terminating at the central station.  There has already been some growth to the south est in particular but perversely here it is employment only leading to reverse commuting.  The topography, forests and villages means that growth needs to be carefully located and designed rather than being in a single large new settlement but there are obvious opportunities.  What needs to go sadly is the geographical separateness of some communes around the city, particularly in the four small communes to the north of the city, as this is the most obvious area for expansion as a high density urban extension along the railway between the protected Grunwald forest areas., where growth hencefar has been a mess of neon signs and land wasting French style big boxes.  The villages here have long since grown well beyond there historic centres, so as long as there is a well planned network of green infrastructure linking these up at a city scale would have limited landscape impact.  Along other segments there is much very attractive countryside with long distance views across rolling countryside and down valleys requiring development to be a series of smaller scale interventions carefully grafted onto existing settlements and the the landscape.



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