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How a Neighbourhood Asserted Its Right to Survive, 1945-1997

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In the city of Le Havre, the neighbourhood of Les Neiges (which emerged in the 1920s) has almost disappeared twice: first in the 1940s, the authorities planned not to rebuild the neighbourhood destroyed during the Second World War where only very few owners held a real title deed. The second time in the 1990s the prefecture of Seine-Maritime classified the area as a 'high threshold' industrial risk regulation zone, thus making the neighbourhood non-residential. In both cases, residents organised and protested against these decisions and eventually had them reversed. The history of Les Neiges shows how unstable, precarious and adjustable property is in times of disaster, that is, when a disaster has occurred or is anticipated. Local initiatives influence the implementation of state policies designed to restrict the right to or the use of individual property in the name of reconstruction or prevention. After WWII the inhabitants opposed the zoning policies designed to promote and develop industry. Forty years later, they rose again, using their experience of the post-war land management to oppose the downgrading of their neighbourhood.
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Keywords: Zoning policies; industrial risk; local protest; post-war land management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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