Paris City Hall has abandoned plans for new buildings around the base of the Eiffel Tower after months of protests by environmentalists and a petition signed by nearly 150,000 people.
As part of this program, around 20 mature trees were reportedly felled and four new buildings housing a café, shops, toilets and a luggage deposit constructed.
“I am announcing that we are completely canceling any construction project at the foot of the tower, but the redevelopment is maintained,” said the first deputy mayor, Emmanuel Grégoire, to the Journal du Dimanche.
The decision to save the trees was made in May after protests and objections from local people.
The landscaping is part of a much larger plan to reorganize the space around the tourist attraction, including planting grass and shrubs on roads and public areas.
“We do not give in to pressure but we would like the project not to be clouded by controversy. Let’s just say we’re removing some of the friction,” Grégoire said.
A 54-hectare (133-acre) area around the tower, criss-crossed by several roads, will largely be dedicated to pedestrians and “low-impact transportation” such as buses and bike lanes.
The municipal authorities aim to get as much of it done as possible for the start of the Paris Olympics in 2024.
An estimated 150,000 people visit the tower site each day during the peak summer season, including the 20,000 to 30,000 who climb it.
A total of 7 million people visit the tower every year.
Activists were delighted that plans for new buildings were scrapped and trees were saved. “We are happy for now but we remain vigilant,” said Thomas Brail of the National Tree Watch Group (GNSA), which was part of a coalition of groups opposed to the plans.