One example of the rapid adoption of this approach during the pandemic is in Paris where, spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Anne Hidalgo made the ‘15-minute neighbourhood’ a central feature of her successful Mayoral campaign in 2020 and is currently building on the City’s existing work using the 15-minute neighbourhood as a way of creating a ‘city of proximities’. Hidalgo aims to create a city for people rather than cars by turning over 70% of on-street car parking space to other uses, expanding and improving cycling infrastructure, increasing the provision of offices and co-working spaces in neighbourhoods, expanding the uses of infrastructure and buildings outside of standard hours and encouraging people to use their local shops. The city is also tackling its lack of public green space by creating ‘urban forests’, small parks in school playgrounds that would be open to local people outside of school hours and allocating over $1.2bn/year has been allocated to the maintenance and improvement of streets, squares and gardens. By putting nature back into urban life Paris aims to become Europe’s greenest city by 2030.
To help stimulate neighbourhood regeneration the City has set up Semaest- a semi-public agency with the ‘pre-emptive’ right to buy ground-floor space which it then re-purposes (if necessary) and lets out local businesses at below market rates.