Seven hiking trails along the river, canals and into the forests start from the city and provide residents and visitors with opportunities to enjoy the allure of the famous Loire and Brittany regions.
These trails are being further enhanced to reach a standard of ‘soft ways’ with cycle lanes, improved accessibility and signage. In summer visitors book local facilities for boating, camping and hiking.
The river is also a setting for annual festivals such as the 'Festival de la Nuit de l’Erdre' where in the first week of July which annually attracts more than 30,000 visitors.
The ville of 'Nort-sur-Erdre' is the main urban centre of the 'Communnauté de communes d’Erdre et Gesvres (CCEG)'. It is classified as a secondary pole to the Nantes-Saint Nazaire Metropole. City officials however are aware of the prevailing perception among residents in the metropole that the ville is more rural than integrated into the urban landscape. The mayor of Nort-sur-Erdre, Yves Dauvé sees an opportunity to develop and promote the city as an attractive place to live for residents of Nantes who want ‘both worlds’ – the connectivity to a large city for business, work and pleasure – as well as a quality quieter green setting as a place to live and bring up a family.
The Municipality has developed extensive urban plans to expand the city and grow the population101. These plans encourage private investors to commence mixed residential/commercial projects adjacent to the city centre, next to the train station and along the river. The Municipality however value a balanced development process, which requires that the ratio of the development of residential, shops, other commercial property, schools and services be adhered to as stipulated in the plans for each area assigned for development. In this regard the Municipality applies its zoning and other planning instruments rigorously. Evidence of this is the restrictions on retail on the periphery of the city and the positioning of shopping destinations in the centre including supermarkets.
As part of this detailed planning process, lands (green fields) have already been zoned to the north-east of the city for future sub-urban housing development with a 50-year horizon. The current location of the new leisure centre and the planned new public secondary school / college (to be completed by 2020) are in anticipation of significant new residential development. This is consistent with the rapid population development over the past 15 years of 38.7%.
The city’s political leadership believes it can facilitate high standards in services, activities and amenities that offer residents an attractive quality of life and visitors an enjoyable experience during their stay.
For example, the city is blessed with a well-supported cultural facility, Cap Nort. The venue is used for cultural events ranging from plays to musical shows to community events for 270 days of the year with an attendance rate of 95%. The facility has flexible space which can accommodate event sizes from 200 to 1,000 persons.
The city serves as an important education location in the CCEG. A number of primary and secondary schools are located close to the centre. The Municipality furthermore intends to significantly expand the city library from 140m2 to 700m2.
A significant challenge for the city is to improve mobility for its residents. The car dependency is very high with 85.8% of residents depending on cars for their daily commute as per census of 2012. Only 3.6% walk or cycle to school or work.
There is a major structural limitation to access the city by road because there is only one bridge crossing the river on the main road leading into the centre and therefore large bottlenecks develop as traffic funnels to use the bridge103. The priority is to make it possible for residents to use other modes of transport to and from the city centre.