Sunday 23 October 2016

Need for good planning takes centre stage at Property Excellence Awards

Mary Hughes

Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30

Good planning has become essential for strong construction
Good planning has become essential for strong construction

Good planning is achieved when the quality of life in a particular place or for a particular group of people is improved.

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For some people improved quality of life is achieved through the provision of open space, an upgraded road system, a quality housing development and sometimes it can be achieved by preventing development from happening at all. Ultimately, the success of planning is judged by the extent to which it maintains and creates places where people wish to live, work and spend leisure time.

Good planning can be achieved with simple intervention. The overall winner of the Irish Planning Institute's 7th National Planning Awards was a simple planning intervention that helped to connect two areas not just physically and socially but also symbolically. The Peace Bridge is a new bridge connecting the city centre to the newly regenerated Ebrington Barracks and Waterside areas. It is symbolically designed to signify a structural handshake at the middle of the River Foyle and its location was carefully chosen to promote linkages across and around the city. It is a great example of how good planning has significantly improved the city of Derry.

A more recent project which has just commenced construction is the Limerick Smarter Travel project which provides a cycling and walking track along the banks of the Shannon from Corbally to Plassey linking the city centre with the University of Limerick. This project was complicated as it is located within a Special Area of Conservation and required careful and innovative planning and environmental considerations. It improves quality of life as it encourages more sustainable travel patterns including walking and cycling between the city and the university.

But planning is more than just footpaths and bridges, it is also about putting in place the plans to facilitate and ensure good planning happens in the future. The Shannon Estuary Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) is an example of good plan-led development which seeks to capitalise on a natural resource. Jointly prepared by Kerry, Clare and Limerick Councils the SIFP identifies the nature and location of future development, economic growth and employment that can be sustainably accommodated within the Shannon Estuary which is an environmentally protected area. The SIFP brings certainty to investors and demonstrates the long term vision that planning can bring to places.

Proper planning matters. It is important to step back and assess the development of spatial planning in Ireland and in doing so to recognise outstanding examples of planning solutions. Equally important is the need to promote the dissemination of good planning practice amongst practitioners, decision makers, stakeholders and citizens.

Mary Hughes is President of the Irish Planning Institute and Director of HRA Planning chartered town consultants. Ms Hughes is a judge of the Irish Independent Property Excellence Awards. The deadline for entries is August 14.

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