The nautical industry will soon be driven out of the city centre of La Rochelle?

Boat lift of the La Rochelle nautical platform © JP Bazard

The future of the La Rochelle nautical plateau is in the hands of the courts, after a procedure launched by owners who wish to see the area downgraded and open to housing construction. The situation worries professionals, as Martin Lepoutre, head of the New Aquitaine yachting cluster, told BoatIndustry.

Request for the decommissioning of the La Rochelle nautical platform

A procedure has been launched by several owners of plots of land on the La Rochelle nautical plateau to have the area downgraded in order to open it to housing and public services. They are concerned about a decline in the value of their land, as the presence of nearby housing limits industrial opportunities. After a refusal by the mayor of La Rochelle in 2014 and after being rejected by the administrative court of Poitiers in April 2017, four complainants brought their cases before the administrative court of appeal of Bordeaux. While the conclusions of the Government Commissioner at the hearing on 11 October 2018 seemed to defend nautical use, the court is expected to deliver its judgment in November.

A damaging situation for a growing nautical activity

The risk of decommissioning may rightly concern some boating industries, while activity in the area is significant. Neel Trimarans has just invested in particular and to extend his buildings there. Martin Lepoutre, head of the New Aquitaine Nautical Cluster, regrets the approach of these owners and points out the difficulty of bringing industry and housing together. "We'll do everything we can to keep the nautical platform nautical. Imagine if we say yes to decommissioning, the cohabitation between boating companies that inevitably make dust and dwellings will necessarily be difficult. We need to know what we want to do with La Rochelle: a city of residence for people with high purchasing power or if we want to keep an economic life. We have a great infrastructure with the launching trolley and the trawler basin, it is obvious that we need boating companies around. I understand that some people are interested in reselling their land for more, but it should not be forgotten that they have been sold at very attractive prices in order to develop boating. Then it will be up to the courts to decide."

New Neel Trimarans buildings

Local voltages

The situation is causing tensions in La Rochelle. The neutrality of the mayor of La Rochelle, Jean-François Fountaine, founder of the catamaran manufacturer Fountaine-Pajot, whose many boats pass through the nautical plateau, is in doubt. His aggressive reaction to the cameras on France 3 testifies to the explosive nature of the situation. Relations between operating companies and building owners can be difficult. Contacted by BoatIndustry, Philippe Joneau, manager of Naval Force 3, said "The Naval Force 3 yard and its employees are not in solidarity with the landowners' approach
The decision of the Bordeaux court is therefore eagerly awaited on the port of La Rochelle.

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