Fig.13 Plaine Commune in Île-de-France region. Source:Plaine Commune2014


Fig.14 Plaine Commune in Seine-Saint-Denis department.Source: Plaine Commune 2014


Fig. 15 The nine towns of Plaine Commune. Source: Plaine Commune 2014

Plaine Commune is an agglomeration community[1] of nine towns to the North of Paris: Épinay- sur-Seine, Villetaneuse, Pierrefitte-sur Seine, Stains, La Courneuve, Aubervilliers, Saint-Ouen, Saint- Denis et L’Ile-Saint-Denis. (Fig.15) Plaine Commune is part of Seine-Saint-Denis department, it covers a territory of 50 km2 (21% of the territory of Seine-Saint-Denis department) (Fig.14) Most of the territory of Plaine Commune is urbanized (Fig 16). It accounts for 408 000 inhabitants (Plaine Commune, 2014 ), which makes it the largest agglomeration community in the whole Paris region


Fig.16. Land use in Plaine Commune. Source: Plaine Commune 2014

Agglomeration community has developed in the dense urban milieu in Île-de-France region, its territory borders with Paris to the South.  Geographically, the territory is strongly marked with presence of Seine and is characterized by relief of alluvial plain elevated to the North side – to the hilly terrain typical of Seine valley. The river marks the western border of Plaine Commune.

Fertile land of alluvial plain, from the medieval times serving for agricultural production and feeding Paris with its produce, and trade crossroads directly related to Northern Europe, as well as spiritual axis since the Middle Ages, the territory of contemporary Plaine Commune also became a powerful industrial hub starting from the 19th century.

Notwithstanding ancient origins of human settlements on its present day territory[1], the history of agglomeration of Plaine Commune started only in the 1980s in the face of deindustrialization that affected the territory and its residents. The vast area, Plaine Saint-Denis, which thirty years before was one of the largest industrial areas in Europe and was affected by the crisis of the 1970s was then close to becoming a huge industrial wasteland: closure of large enterprises, inhabitants that fled the territory…

Local officials of the various municipalities in Plaine Saint- Denis decided to mobilize the forces of the territory in order to renew it and bring economic activities back. In 1985 the municipal association  Plaine Renaissance with the objective to redevelop brownfield sites and reconstruct the tissue of the territory  on the principle of ‘4 quarters’: a quarter for housing, a quarter for economic activities, a quarter of green areas  and one for public facilities . The negotiations on the implantation on the territory of Stade de France for the 1998 FIFA World Cup have accelerated this project. In exchange of stadium construction the coverage of A1 and two RER stations as well as the construction of the facilities already provisioned in the project were negotiated. New better connection to Paris through the RER lines facilitated the revival on the territory of economic activities through the implantation of several companies, which subsequently created employment and pushed housing construction projects.

In 1998, ten towns – the two participants of intercommunal syndicate (Saint-Denis and Aubervilliers) and eight neighboring towns (Épinay-sur-Seine, La Courneuve, L’Île-Saint-Denis, Pantin, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Saint-Ouen, Stains, Villetaneuse) initiated a development charter around common goals.  And when, in 1999 , the law established the creation of agglomeration communities, five of these ten cities created on the January 1, 2000, a community of towns, which a year later will become agglomeration community of Plaine Commune. The agglomeration community aims to implement a development project in the service of people and economic actors, coherent for the whole agglomeration. The objective is also to be stronger together and be effective in developing the territory due to the enlarged range of competences.

Plaine Commune acts in the framework of competences transferred to it by the municipalities. The key competences are as follows:

  • social and urban development: urban renovation and urban politics, housing, urban planning and improvements to the landscaping and public space,
  • economic development: relations with enterprises, real estate, research and higher education, local development and tourism, employment and integration,
  • public space: roads and transportations, parks and gardens, collection and processing of waste, cleaning, water sanitation, transport;
  • culture: public libraries;
  • two transversal competences – territorial project and urban ecology.

[1] Signs of human presence on the territory of contemporary Saint-Denis date back to 5000 BC. Ville Saint-Denis, 2014 (Ville Saint-Denis 2014)

[1] Agglomeration community is a public establishment of inter-municipal cooperation, created on July 12, 1999 by law “Chevenement”. Agglomeration community typically includes towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants and with no enclave around one or several towns with the population of more than 15 000 inhabitants. (Carmona 2002)


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