Friday 22 September 2017

Planners urged to reject 'anti-urban bias' in politics and avoid past mistakes

Dublin Chamber has called for resources to be allocated to densely-populated areas, writes Gavin McLoughlin

Chamber's chief executive Mary Rose Burke, who oversaw the rebrand. Photo: Conor McCabe
Chamber's chief executive Mary Rose Burke, who oversaw the rebrand. Photo: Conor McCabe
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Dublin Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to overcome an "anti-urban bias" in Irish political culture in its submission to a public consultation on the new national planning framework.

The chamber, which represents 1,300 businesses in the Greater Dublin Area, said the plan was a chance to "avoid the planning mistakes that Dublin made" in other cities.

A 2014 ESRI paper found Dublin had a lower spend per capita on transport infrastructure in the years 1995-2009, saying that this was in part due to infrastructure being cheaper per person in densely-populated areas.

"The time has come for the Government to start allocating national resources in a way that respects and reflects where the Irish people actually choose to live in their largest numbers. The National Planning Framework represents an important opportunity for policymakers to overcome the conventional anti-urban bias in Irish political culture and to plan successfully for the future," the Chamber said in its submission.

"Policymakers must recognise that the proportion of Ireland's population living in rural areas will continue to decline in the coming decades, while the proportion living in urban areas will continue to increase. Rather than squandering limited national resources in an effort to combat a global and irreversible trend, Government should focus on getting the urbanisation process right."

The submission calls for higher buildings to be allowed in certain areas to combat urban sprawl.

"Low-density development is an unsustainable model and a significant contributor to Ireland's current housing and public transport problems. It chokes off housing supply in the locations where people most want to live, while encouraging urban sprawl and ever longer commuting times."

The Chamber will this week unveil a new logo after a five-month rebranding process, which drops the words 'of commerce' from the logo, which also returns to blue. "The new brand is a reflection Dublin's Chamber's position as the business voice for Dublin. Going forward, we want to ensure that Dublin is a modern, welcoming and vibrant place in which to live, work and do business," said the Chamber's chief executive Mary Rose Burke, who oversaw the rebrand.

"We will always be Dublin Chamber of Commerce, but the change in the naming convention reflects how our members and the people of Dublin know us: Dublin Chamber."

The Chamber is working on its own consultation process as it seeks to map out its future advocacy agenda. In a recent interview with the Sunday Independent, Burke, pictured, said the consultation is designed to get people thinking about what they want Dublin to be like in the year 2050. "Anything done in a five- or seven-year scale, people's views are framed by the limitations of what's possible now, or what they read in the papers. If you take it out more into the 'impossible future', anything becomes possible," Burke said.

"There's no reason now in a very modern dynamic and successful economy why we wouldn't have a big ambition and have that ambition to be a world-class city." Burke backed the construction of a rail link to Dublin Airport and the Dart Underground, adding that the city should look to have 40-to-60-storey "iconic buildings" in defined areas. Burke cited London and Boston as examples of Georgian cities with low skylines that had successfully built higher in certain areas.

"People want to live in Dublin at the moment, it's very multicultural, people enjoy living here, they do enjoy that sense of Irishness and the craic in Dublin. So it is attractive, but we now need to scramble to make sure that we don't lose that. The pressure that's coming on in terms of housing, the pressure that's there in terms of transport, the length of people's commutes, all of those, if they're not dealt with, could end up making it less attractive to live in Dublin and harder to attract business."

Sunday Indo Business

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