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Dudelange, the southern town : More than a thousand dwellings to come

On 15/02/2017
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Dudelange, the southern town Ee mol, Ëmmer Diddeleng[1] More than a thousand dwellings to come

 
Dudelange, once called the “ Forge du sud” [Forge of the south], has experienced the eventful history of an industrial city, as was the case for Esch-sur-Alzette. Even so, the commune has managed to develop at the right time by creating major regional and national industrial zones. Through its housing plans and the revitalisation of its industrial wasteland, Dudelange intends to retain its historical place in the national landscape. The details with Dan Biancalana, burgomaster since 2014.
 

Dudelange was established through the iron and steel industry, before it began to diversify. Mr Biancalana, please explain this to us.

The commune developed from the end of the 19th century through the exploitation of iron mineral deposits, and then through the installation of an iron and steel works. In 1907, the commune achieved the status of a town, and its population numbers some 10,000 inhabitants. But in 1970, the crisis in the iron and steel sector reared its head. There were initial considerations on the idea of a conversion. The closure of the Laminoir/Rolling Mill in Dudelange in 2005 left no choice in the matter. Dudelange had to assume a new identity. Given the voluntarism of the Dudelange elected representatives, in collaboration with the national authorities, new industries active in diversified sectors established themselves on the outskirts. It is currently ranked 4th nationally. The communal authorities have opted to invest in urban infrastructures so as to achieve an unparalleled quality of life. Dudelange now combines multiple versions of its main advantages. With 20,455 inhabitants in 2016, and a proportion of 40% non-natives represented in the local population, drawn from 105 different nationalities, and an annual growth of 10% over 10 years, Dudelange aspires to achieve sustainable development.

 

Dudelange is also known as a town of culture and sport.

The cultural activity of the town of Dudelange has been exceptional over the past twenty years. Regarding cultural institutions, one can cite in particular the Opderschmelz CCRD [Dudelange Regional Cultural Centre] with its exceptional programming: jazz, world music, rock, blues, live cinema, contemporary theatre, dance spectacles, etc… And its wide range of events such as Touch of Noir, the Singer Songwriter, Like a Jazz Machine and the festival of percussion. Added to this, there is the Centre d’art Dominique Lang, devoted to exhibiting contemporary art and the Centre d’art Nei Liicht dedicated to audio-visual art and contemporary photography, the Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations Humaines [Documentation on Human Migration], the Musée des Enrôlés de Force [conscripts museum] and the recently inaugurated municipal museum. Various open air or indoor infrastructures have been constructed over the year. The new Centre sportif René Hartmann is the key element. Its versatility and multifunctional character resides in a wide range of the most highly sought-after and currently most developed sports activities, including the climbing wall, the covered and open air swimming pool … The various public installations (gymnasiums, football stadiums, multi-sports pitches, and swimming pools) are regularly refitted. Here too, the provision is aimed at all generations: ranging from the skatepark for young people, to fitness equipment for the older generation. The town also has nearly 220 clubs and associations. The Dudelange sports clubs are amongst the most competitive in the country and Dudelange is often referred to as the capital of team sports in Luxembourg. 
 

What are your commune’s main assets?

This is a town that has a certain urbanity, while at the same time offering a verdant natural setting. Dudelange is surrounded by forests and a large number of green spaces are distributed around the entire town. The Réserve naturelle Haard, classified as a protected zone, with a surface area of 198 hectares, forms part of a natural site of 600 hectares, the largest in the country. The Parc Emile Mayrisch directly adjoins the heart of the town. In the Parc Le'h there is the Adventure Parc, one of the largest adventure trails in the country, as well as a children’s recreational trail incorporating twelve educational stations. Our infrastructures are very modern and a certain quality of life pervades the town centre as it does in the districts that make up the town.
The diversity of business, shops and restaurants means that anyone can live in Dudelange without needing to go elsewhere for their requirements. 720 commercial activities have been launched. And we have 200 shops.
Concerning education, we have a technical secondary level lycee, as well as 13 basic education establishments. 3500 children are taught every day in our schools. Dudelange also accommodates a large number of State institutions: the CNA (Centre national de l’Audiovisuel) [National audiovisual centre], the ADEM [Employment office] branch office, the Laboratoire National de Santé [National health laboratory] (transferred from Luxembourg-Ville). And other research departments, IBBL (Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg), and the State veterinary inspection should follow in 2017.
It is a town full of dynamism and overflowing with potential: a commune that is a good place to live in.

 

More than elsewhere, one has the feeling that here, the Dudelange community identifies strongly with the town. How do you explain this?

The various districts reflect the history of the locality. The Boudersberg district, at the foot of the mont Saint-Jean is still impregnated in its rural past, whereas the Brill district consists mainly of housing built during the town’s industrial period. The Italie and Schmelz districts, close to the old iron and steel site, are still characterised by immigration and retain their inimitable atmosphere, while on the outskirts of the town, there is an emergence of new residential zones such as the Ribeschpont district, accompanying the socio-economic transformation of the town.

Dudelange is also a breeding ground for employment… Projects currently underway will provide a new dynamism.

The logistics business site (the former WSA site) and the multimodal site (intermodal terminal, rail/road platform and the future secured transport centre) on the Eurohub Sud site located in the territory of the communes of Dudelange and Bettembourg are two large-scale national projects, crating hundreds of jobs. We also have a large number of national and international industrial zones around Dudelange that have enabled the economic development of the town. Well-known companies such as Husky, Ampacet and Guardian contribute to the stability of the Commune. These new projects also have the effect of extending the existing provision. This is a logical next step.
We are also examining the creation of craft trade zones, as there is a significant lack of these in the commune.

In the last 10 years, Dudelange has experienced moderate growth at 1% a year. How is this looking for the coming years?

This controlled growth was deliberate from our point of view, in order to give us sufficient time to improve our infrastructures so as to keep pace with our development. In future, Dudelange will transform harmoniously into an agglomeration in full demographic and economic expansion. The “Shared Space” will contribute a new aspect for the town centre. This space consists of the coexistence of the different modes of transport, at the same time as supporting soft mobility, safety, and mutual respect. The town centre will become the most pleasant place in which to live, both welcoming and convivial. “Am Duerf” is the redevelopment of an under-utilised space in the centre in a mixed use block (accommodation, shop spaces, professional premises, public spaces and parking). The project will dynamise business life with its 4400 m2 of commercial space and underground public car park. Nearly 100 new dwellings will also be created. The Lenkeschléi district, located not far from the centre: 240 dwellings – both residential blocks and single family houses, a school, and a maison relais [transition centre] and a gymnasium, developed to a passive energy design. On the former industrial wasteland, an eco-district will be created: the Neischmelz project. The “Lenkeschléi ”, “Am Duerf ” and “Neischmelz” projects, being implemented or in planning, are illustrative of the involvement of the town of Dudelange in the promotion of sustainable urban districts.
The town of Dudelange, in collaboration with the Fonds du Logement [housing fund], is in the process of developing communal land in the Burange district in an architectural competitive tender for the development of “Baulücken”, or affordable housing.
But for now, we have just inaugurated two SNHBM (Société Nationale des Habitations à Bon Marché S.A.) residences: these 2 new residences are located in the rue des Champs in Dudelange and consist of a total of 16 apartments.

As you have mentioned, another large-scale project relates to the former industrial wastelands…

The revitalisation of the industrial wastelands is a major issue. The Neischmelz project, run by the Fond du lodgement [housing fund], should enable the construction of 1000 residential units that will be developed over the coming 10-15 years. This year, we have seen the instigation of the procedures for the PAG [general development] and PAP [individual development] plans. The first construction works will take place during the second half of 2018.
 
Emilie Di-Vincenzo



[1] [approximately translated as: "Once and always Dudelange"]
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