- Owner (since 2010) and contracting authority: Arras Urban Community
- Number of inhabitants: 105,000 (INSEE census 2011)
- Area of the citadel: 30 ha
- Useable surface area: 45,000 m²
- Number of 17th century buildings: 15
- Reconversion master plan project management: Philippe Prost Architectural Agency
An unexpected opportunity
When the Fortifications of Vauban were included on the World Heritage list, local attention was considerable upon learning that the “601e Régiment de circulation routière” (Road Traffic Regiment) was going to be disbanded. As a result, the availability of 72 hectares (178 acres) of military land (including the citadel and the adjacent woods, the Schramm barracks and the “terrain du Gouverneur”) quite unexpectedly provided a superb opportunity for the Urban Community to regain this area.
It immediately started an ambitious reconversion project, with a two-fold objective. The first strand involved opening up this superb heritage to the local community and showcasing its majestic beauty as well as integrating it into the existing urban fabric. The second goal was to implement a financially efficient redevelopment project to offset the loss of 750 jobs and 8.5€M annual turnover linked to the soldiers and their families leaving. Putting in place a Steering Committee and initiating a consultation process involving the local residents during a series of open days (5,600 questionnaires returned) enabled a redevelopment master plan to be prepared. It began to be implemented in 2012 when the urban community offices were installed in the citadel.
Identifying four thematic areas (tertiary, housing, nature/leisure and gastronomy) significantly helped the process of looking for public and private partners while also giving the site a new identity with connections with Arras town centre being a priority.
Most of the existing buildings have been preserved (and safeguarded as historical monuments) and are subject to extensive studies by one or more investors or developers.
The marketing of some buildings will contribute to funding structuring facilities and allow in the short term to:
- enhance heritage by making the work of Vauban more legible and easier to understand,
- enhance the ramparts and make the surroundings much safer,
- create urban public spaces in keeping with the woods and town centre ofArras,
- encourage access to the citadel using alternative means of transport.
The CUA is converting a block of flats, built in 1998, with a surface area of 2600m2, into a business centre, thus meeting demand for rental offices of sizes ranging from 50m2 up to 400m2. As well as income generated for the CUA within the next 5 years, mixed use is encouraged with the offices accommodating businesses, associations and governmental organisations such as PFM radio, Youth Protection and the regional centre for books and letters. The offices are due to be completed in July 2013.