Description of the project

The building permit, signed in July 2020, covers a shopping mall project that has become gigantic.  It now includes:

  • 63 000 m2 of floor space
  • 34 571 m2 of non-food shops
  • 4729 m2 of food halls
  • 3943 m2 of cinema
  • 3694 m2 of “cultural industries”
  • 1600 underground parking places on 3 levels.

A graphic representation taken from the building permit indicates just how huge the project is.  There will be three buildings, two of which are 25 meters high and the third is 32 meters high.

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Photo montage taken from the impact study.  The picture is misleading.  The trees in the background are shown as much bigger than they are, and the “Orée de France” apartment block behind (approximately 23 meters) is shown as higher than the tallest mall building (32 meters).

The impact study envisages a mall that would receive 14 000 people a day, with 130 shops, 19 restaurants, and underground parking for 1 600 vehicles on three levels, the whole site covering almost 3 hectares.

In comparison, the Balexert mall in Geneva, thought to be the biggest in Switzerland, which has a similar number of shops (120), restaurants (15) and 2 200 parking spaces, gets 8.5 million customers a year!

Why we are angry

Beyond harmful effects on the environment, such as pollution, and destruction of the local economy, this kind of gigantic commercial project has devastating consequences for life on earth. We need to rethink this consumerist model, which promotes the purchase of all sorts of useless products at ridiculously low prices.  It is based on the continuous exploitation of natural resources, of raw materials and labour on the other side of the world.  The current health crisis is linked to this model.

We are indignant at the commercial and consumerist model behind this type of project, which is totally out of sync with the urgent need for a green transition. 

We are concerned about the destruction of the local economy and neighbourhood shops.

We are convinced that it will destroy the social connections that are so important for our well-being.

Furthermore, we are worried about the tremendous increase in traffic between Ferney and Geneva.and the ensuing pollution.  Even now, tens of thousands of residents in the Gex area cross the customs south of Ferney-Voltaire via the airport tunnel, in fact a funnel. New means of public transport (an increased-frequency bus, a tram) are not going to reduce the increasing number of cars used by prospective customers. The fact that the project includes the construction of a three-storey car park with 16 000 places proves this point.

Numerous shopping malls have closed down in recent years (whether in the United States, Germany,  France, or elsewhere).  Citizens’ opposition to this kind of project is growing.  Indeed, the Convention citoyenne pour le climat  (Citizens’ climate convention) has proposed a moratorium on the construction of new shopping malls.  Faced with a health, economic and social crisis, people want a more local and circular economy, other ways to live together.

We refuse to have a completely outmoded project – contrary to the urgent need for a green and inclusive transition and disastrous for the local and global environment – installed at the entrance to our town.

Actions taken

The association has taken a number of steps: we’ve launched a petition, made legal appeals, organized demonstrations, sent letters to and had meetings with elected officials, the authorities and several other  associations, mobilized the media, and held meetings with members.  Below are some details.

Information for the general public

  • launch of a petition on the web site change.org/mobilisons-nous-à-ferney-voltaire , March 2020
  • production and distribution of three leaflets, March and May 2020, October 2021
  • creation of a Facebook page under the name of the association, and of a website
  • organization of information sessions.
  • information stand at the Ferney market, November 6 2021
  • participatory workshop, to elaborate alternative proposals, with the help of Marcellin Barthassat, renown urbanist and arquitect in Geneva

Legal action, undertaken by a law firm:

  • in opposition to the order for planning permission, submission to the Mayor of Ferney-Voltaire for an out-of-court settlement, September 2020
  • institution of legal proceeding before the Administrative Court of Appeal in Lyons, January 2021

Meetings with local protagonists

  • Mayor of Ferney-Voltaire, Daniel Raphoz, together with the Deputy-mayor, Khadija Unal
  • President of the Ferney-Voltaire trade association
  • Director, Voltaire cinema
  • Gex Sub-prefect, Benoit Huber
  • Green party candidate for the Rhone-Alpes Auvergne region at the regional elections, June 2021, Fabienne Grebert
  • Lead Green candidate for Ain department at the regional elections, Maxime Meyer
  • representatives of other activist associations in the Gex area
  • representatives of the Green party in Geneva and Switzerland

A Swiss Green Deputy, Delphine Klopfenstein Broggini, subsequently questioned  the Swiss National Council in a document entitled “Un nouveau projet de mega centre commercial ruine l’equilibre transfrontalier” (“A new project for a giant shopping mall ruins the cross-border balance”), May 2021, in order to alert the authorities to the damaging effects of the project.

Support for the moratorium on shopping malls proposed by the Convention citoyenne pour le climat (Citizens’ climate convention)

  • together with some 100 French associations and other groups, including Parisian legal experts,  drafting of a letter to the prefect of our respective departments to obtain a decision in favour of the moratorium as soon as possible.
  • together with representatives of the Collectif Contre-Open (a group which opposes construction of the new Open shopping mall in St. Genis), travel to Bourg-en-Bresse to deliver a request  personally to the Prefect of Ain, Arnaud Cochet, for support for the moratorium
  • a letter was also sent to the French President, Emmanuel Macron, requesting implementation of the moratorium.

Participation in demonstrations

  •  a protest of around a hundred people, including the Collectif Contre-Open, against the construction of shopping malls in the Gex area. It took place in front of  the Communauté d’Agglomération du Pays de Gex (the local government office in Gex)  in July 2020, at the time   the new executive board was elected
  • a protest  in St Genis against the construction of the Open shopping mall, along with the Collectif Contre-Open and other environmental movements in the Gex area, under the sign Sauvegarde du Pays de Gex (Preserve the Gex area), September 2020, and October 2021
  • a Marche pour le climat (Climate march) in Gex, along with other associations, May 2021
  • in Ferney-Voltaire, a demonstration organised by the association to protest against this project, with the participation of various associations, Swiss green elected officials and personalities. About 400 people marched in the streets of Ferney-Voltaire on 29 January 2022. Listen to the RTS radio programme

Press contacts

After interviews with the press, several French and Swiss newspapers – Le Monde, Le Progrès, Le Dauphiné, Le Gessien, Le Courrier , La Tribune de Genève and others – published articles about the project (see French texts under “Media”)

The shopping mall project

The threat of a huge shopping mall hangs over Ferney-Voltaire, the Gex area and neighbouring Switzerland.

The project involves the redevelopment of the neighbourhood known as “La Poterie” at the entrance to Ferney-Voltaire (from the Geneva direction through the Grand-Saconnex customs).  This redevelopment was first considered over ten years ago, but the project has greatly evolved since then.

The Société  Publique Locale Terrinov (Terrinov local public company) was set up by the Communauté de Communes du pays de Gex (Community of municipalities in the Gex area) and was charged with implementing the work of the “Ferney-Genève Innovation” Zone d’Aménagement Concerté (Joint development zone).  The president of the company is Vincent Scattolin, Mayor of Divonne.  After  tender, the contract was awarded to Altarea-Cogedim, the foremost constructor of shopping malls in France.

The building permit, signed in July 2020, covers a shopping mall project that has become gigantic.  It now includes:

  • 63 000 m2 of floor space
  • 34 571 m2 of non-food shops
  • 4729 m2 of food halls
  • 3943 m2 of cinema
  • 3694 m2 of “cultural industries”
  • 1600 underground parking places on 3 levels.

A graphic representation taken from the building permit indicates just how huge the project is.  There will be three buildings, two of which are 25 meters high and the third is 32 meters high.

Photo montage taken from the impact study.  The picture is misleading.  The trees in the background are shown as much bigger than they are, and the “Orée de France” apartment block behind (approximately 23 meters) is shown as higher than the tallest mall building (32 meters).

The impact study envisages a mall that would receive 14 000 people a day, with 130 shops, 19 restaurants, and underground parking for 1 600 vehicles on three levels, the whole site covering almost 3 hectares.

In comparison, the Balexert mall in Geneva, thought to be the biggest in Switzerland, which has a similar number of shops (120), restaurants (15) and 2 200 parking spaces, gets 8.5 million customers a year!

Why we are angry

Beyond harmful effects on the environment, such as pollution, and destruction of the local economy, this kind of gigantic commercial project has devastating consequences for life on earth. We need to rethink this consumerist model, which promotes the purchase of all sorts of useless products at ridiculously low prices.  It is based on the continuous exploitation of natural resources, of raw materials and labour on the other side of the world.  The current health crisis is linked to this model.

We are indignant at the commercial and consumerist model behind this type of project, which is totally out of sync with the urgent need for a green transition. 

We are concerned about the destruction of the local economy and neighbourhood shops.

We are convinced that it will destroy the social connections that are so important for our well-being.

Furthermore, we are worried about the tremendous increase in traffic between Ferney and Geneva.and the ensuing pollution.  Even now, tens of thousands of residents in the Gex area cross the customs south of Ferney-Voltaire via the airport tunnel, in fact a funnel. New means of public transport (an increased-frequency bus, a tram) are not going to reduce the increasing number of cars used by prospective customers. The fact that the project includes the construction of a three-storey car park with 16 000 places proves this point.

Numerous shopping malls have closed down in recent years (whether in the United States, Germany,  France, or elsewhere).  Citizens’ opposition to this kind of project is growing.  Indeed, the Convention citoyenne pour le climat  (Citizens’ climate convention) has proposed a moratorium on the construction of new shopping malls.  Faced with a health, economic and social crisis, people want a more local and circular economy, other ways to live together.

We refuse to have a completely outmoded project – contrary to the urgent need for a green and inclusive transition and disastrous for the local and global environment – installed at the entrance to our town.

Home

Our association Contre un nouveau centre commercial géant à Ferney-Voltaire – Association Against a New Huge Shopping Mall in Ferney-Voltaire – is fighting against this project which threatens our town and our region.

We want the exceptional potential of our town to be enhanced, not defaced.

Moreover, this project is totally contrary to the urgent need for all of us to take measures to protect the environment.

Share our indignation, stand with us in our struggle, join our association.

Anne Durand, Christine Verschuur, Marie-José Bofill

Association Contre un nouveau centre commercial géant à Ferney-Voltaire – Association Against a New Huge Shopping Mall in Ferney-Voltaire


Sign our petition, follow us on Facebook and print our adhesion form.

contact@poterie-riposte-ferney-voltaire.fr

Petition

To sign the petition, click here

Poterie Riposte, association Contre un nouveau centre commercial géant à Ferney-Voltaire (association Against a New Huge Shopping Mall in Ferney-Voltaire) has launched the petition below, addressed to Patrice Dunand, President of the Communauté d’Agglomération du Pays de Gex (Gex local government) and Mayor of Gex, and to twelve other recipients.

Against a new huge shopping mall in Ferney-Voltaire

In the context of the Zone d’aménagement concerté Ferney-Genève-Innovation (Ferney-Geneva-Innovation joint development zone), elected representatives at the Communauté d’Agglomération du pays de Gex (Gex local government) have approved the project for construction of a huge shopping mall (the size of the Balexert-Geneva complex) at the entrance to Ferney-Voltaire, in “La Poterie” neighbourhood.

The project includes:

  • 63 000 m2 of floor space
  • 34 571 m2 of shops, with 130 stores
  • 4729 m2 of food halls, with take-aways and 19 restaurants
  • 3943 m2 of cinema
  • 3694 m2 of “cultural industries”
  • 1600 underground parking places on 3 floors
  • 2 buildings 25 meters high; 1 building 32 meters high.

Residents were invited to give their views on the impact study carried out in order to grant the building permit for the shopping and leisure centre. All views were negative. Hundreds of signatures against the project have already been transmitted to Daniel Raphoz, Mayor of Ferney-Voltaire, which did not stop him from signing the building permit in July 2020.

The impact study states that this centre is “an opportunity for the town to plan urban growth and renovation that meets the needs of its current and  future population”.

The Gex area is one of the places in France with the highest concentration of shopping malls (Val-Thoiry, Espace Candide, the future mall in St-Genis-Pouilly …), not to mention the Balexert-Geneva  complex, less than 6 kms from Ferney, as well as numerous hypermarkets.

No population survey has ever indicated a lack of or need for another shopping mall

An outdated model of consumption

On the contrary, as in the rest of France, people are tired of this kind of consumption.  Everywhere, these giant complexes and their huge parking areas, intended to promote unlimited consumption, are in decline. In Ferney, for instance, the Espace Candide, built just five years ago and six times smaller than the Poterie mall would be, is empty.  There are so few customers that shop owners get together to pay one salesperson for two shops. There is a growing interest in smaller, local shops, in line with  awareness of the urgent need for measures to protect the environment.

Traffic problems in the Gex area, especially in Ferney

Traffic in Ferney and the Gex area in general has become a serious issue.  Residents cross the various customs points by their tens of thousands a day, in one direction or the other.  Considering that Balexert draws nearly 8 million visitors a year, even if the Ferney project attracted half the number, how will the extra thousands of visitors a day be able to drive round?

Does neighbouring Switzerland really intend to finance a tram line that will help to empty Balexert of its customers?

The impact study for the mall project showed how cars would access the 1600 parking places once they arrive in Ferney-Voltaire, but how will they get there? In fact, Ferney is a funnel whose main conduit is the tunnel under the airport. There are no plans to widen it. Roads to the north and west of Ferney are always blocked with traffic.

Increased pollution

Geneva airport causes both heavy air and sound pollution. So do cars. 

Can the residents of Ferney and its surroundings really remain indifferent to the harmful effects of such a colossal influx of additional vehicles?

Death of down-town Ferney

Studies show that this kind of shopping mall, located on the edge of town, saps the life out of the centre.  Shops in down-town Ferney will not survive if the mall is built.  A new set of signs to attract people to the centre, or a shuttle planned to take them there from the mall, are no more than a bandage  on gangrene. 

Shopping malls, far from helping people to socialize, isolate and separate them

Cultural pretexts

We are not fooled by the cultural proposals in the project.

The survival of our cinema is essential.  In no way is it linked to a huge shopping mall.  There are other options.

A branch of the Pompidou Centre and a science world would be housed in the mall.  They are termed “cultural industries”, which defines them exactly.  They are not intended to meet a visitor’s expectation of an artistic or varied view of the world, but rather to turn art into merchandise and the visitor into an inveterate consumer.

People-friendly development

Whereas we increasingly look for places in which to enjoy social life and interaction, this mall destroys any likelihood.

We know that our style of industrialized consumption depletes natural resources and destroys biodiversity, impoverishing other parts of the world. It is time to recognize how destructive it is and to refuse what is no more than forward flight.

We want a harmonious development for our town; a town that is alive, welcoming and ambitious; a town where people can exchange ideas.  A town that lives up to the ideals of  the renowned French philosopher who made it his home. 

We want to live in Ferney-Voltaire, not Ferney-Consumerism

Collegiate  management, Anne Durand, Christine Verschuur, Marie-José Bofill

JOIN US!

To sign the petition, click here