Investigation. These illegal constructions in a flood zone that grows around Nîmes

Illicit construction increased by 30%, especially in Nîmes. Example in Mas de Mayan, a flood zone and therefore not buildable where wild buildings grow. Survey of France 3 Nîmes.

The phenomenon of illegal constructions has grown significantly. More than 30% of violations observed, particularly in Nîmes. The Mas de Mayan sector has witnessed for years these wild constructions on this agricultural plain on the edge of the Vistre, classified as floodable and, by definition, not buildable.

A huge housing development in a flood zone

South of Nîmes, the Mas de Mayan path defines the boundary with Milhaud. Agricultural land that in the past was fertilized by flooding with Vistre sediments. The river still meanders through the fields to the end of the road. There, a double gate blocks access to a private property located on the Nîmes side.
The subdivision brings together dozens of houses built in old agricultural gardens located in a flood zone.

A flood zone, when permits were granted by city planning, I don’t see how illegal I am. There are people who built a long time ago, after which everyone is responsible for their choices.

Resident of Mas de Mayan in Nîmes.

Côté Milhaud, for 30 years on these unbuildable lands sold at high prices by farmers, grew up sheltered by high walls, huts and other so-called temporary mobile homes that sometimes gave way to beautiful houses like those in the illustrative photo of the article destroyed in 2019 One of the punching actions of the Local Delinquency Treatment Group (GLTD) in urban planning created 5 years ago under the aegis of the Public Ministry to deal with the area.
Among the long-established Travelers, some consider themselves discriminated against. One of them, on condition of anonymity, agrees to show us his family’s possessions. A long time ago, he also saw his house destroyed.

My house was demolished because we are travelers.

Anonymous resident of Mas de Mayan


In the area, houses in the Gard, like this authoritative dream villa with its clover-shaped pool, do not fear destruction.

© Google Map

Other more recent ones are covered by the criminal statute of limitations, which has been increased to six years since March 2017.
At Milhaud City Hall, we take stock of the following:“There are some solid houses that were built earlier that are referenced and registered, it must be half a dozen. All the others are wild constructions”., indicates Jean-Luc Descloux, mayor of Milhaud.
Everything else, like a small housing development visible in the satellite image located in an area with high risk of flooding.

Illegal housing development in Milhaud

Illegal housing development in Milhaud

© Google map

A hard to control scourge

The mayor admits to fighting a scourge difficult to control: “No municipality allows it. The State does not allow it, but the procedures take so long… There has to be a blue, white, red backhoe, which, as soon as a work is requested, arrives on request and does its job.

Since the house is built with children inside, at school or sick, how do you humanly get people out of there?

Jean-Luc Descloux, Mayor of Milhaud.

About twenty illegal constructions are estimated in the Mas de Mayan alone. The phenomenon of ghost towns is much more widespread in the city.

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Two years ago, a public dedicated to urbanism was created in the Public Ministry of Nîmes. Cases are handled by a specialized magistrate. The aim is to give a firm penal response to this type of illegal practice in classified or natural sites that, at times, can prove to be dangerous for residents, due to the risk of flooding or fire.

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