France first authorized municipalities to adopt TDR programs in its Urban Development Reform Act of 1976. The TDR provisions are now located in article L123-2 of the Urban Development Code, which allows jurisdictions to adopt TDR programs in which development rights can be transferred from sending zones in order to conserve “the quality of the landscape”. French courts have not yet officially confirmed whether or not the term “landscape” includes farmland and other community assets. A limited number of TDR programs can be found in French coastal and mountain areas. One such example is a TDR program adopted in the late 1970s (Renard, 2000) by the commune of Lourmarin in the Vaucluse department of the region of Province-Alpes-Cotes d’ Azur. The town is the home of British writer Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Province.
Despite the uncertain intent of the authorizing code, portions of the Lourmarin sending areas are agricultural lands at risk of being fragmented by residential development in this attractive area. Sending areas cannot be developed but owners apparently may transfer TDRs as compensation. Renard (2006) adds that the proponents of this program were new residents of Lourmarin trying to curb sprawl and maintain their property values. Details of the mechanics of this program are hard to find, possibly because, as Renard, explains, Lourmarin was trying to launch this program at a time when land use regulation authority was not yet decentralized. The national government was not a fan of TDR (Renard, 2007) and had control over local adoption of tools like TDR (Renard, 2006). Consequently “…the transfer mechanism could not be fully developed and refined” (Renard, 2006, p529).
Despite these roadblocks, Renard reports that the program saw some success due to the intense involvement of the Lourmarin government which has facilitated a TDR market by operating a TDR exchange. TDRs sell for between 2,500 and 3,000 euros per 50 square meters of transferred floor area. As of 2007, three quarters of the receiving area development capacity had been used (Renard, 2007).
Renard, V. (2006) Compensation rights for reduction in property values due to planning decisions: the case of France. 5 Wash. U. Glob. Stud. L. Rev. pp. 523 – 534.
Renard, V. (2007) Property rights and the transfer of development rights: Questions of efficiency and equity. Town Planning Review, 78, pp. 41-60.
Renard, V. (2000) Land markets and transfer of development rights: some examples in France, Italy and the United States in Fossati, A. et al (eds) Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development. Norwell, Massachusetts: Kluwer Academic Publishers.