Sensitive urban zone

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A sensitive urban zone (ZUS) is an urban area in France defined by the authorities to be a high-priority target for city policy, taking into consideration local circumstances related to the problems of its residents.[1]

There are 752 sensitive urban zones in France, including 718 in mainland France.[2]

Social problems within the zones[edit]

Nearly five million people live in zones of difficulty.[3]

Their problems include:

French Government policy[edit]

A law passed November 14, 1996 created sensitive urban zones (ZUS) and urban tax-free zones (ZFU). 752 of these zones were created in France, including 718 in mainland France.[4] The law of November 14, 1996 (which implements a renewed urban policy) distinguishes three levels of intervention:

  • Sensitive urban zones (ZUS)
  • Urban renewal zones (ZRU)
  • Urban tax-free zones (ZFU)

The three levels of intervention (ZUS, ZRU and ZFU), characterized by fiscal and social measures of increasing importance, target the difficulties encountered in these districts with differing degrees of response.[5] Contrary to generally accepted ideas, these sensitive districts are in the center of cities and not just the outskirts.[6]

The situation in these areas in difficulty was (until recently) difficult to evaluate precisely, based on many statistics which were inadequate in certain areas, scattered or badly collected. To remedy these problems and more accurately measure the effect of policy implementation, the National Observatory of Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS) was created in a law passed on August 1, 2003.[7]

These ZUS are distributed throughout 490 communes and include 4.7 million inhabitants. Among them a subset of 416 zones of urban renewal (ZRU) was created, including 396 in mainland France. The ZRU contain 3.2 million inhabitants, and present unique challenges. Almost all departments are affected; the only exceptions are nine strongly agricultural departments.[8]

See also[edit]


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  6. ^ "La carte des ZUS commentée par Christophe Guilluy",, June 1, 2006
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  8. ^