Plans for '15-minute city can breathe life into whole of the capital'

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Caroline O'Doherty

Dublin could become a "15-minute city" under an ambitious plan drawn up by city businesses.

The idea from Dublin Chamber is that, through revamped planning, people would be able to get to work, shops, essential services and leisure facilities in 15 minutes' walk or cycle from home.

It would put an end to the practice of segregating the city into parcels characterised by a single purpose such as office districts, residential areas, shopping zones and entertainment strips.

The chamber says a greater blend of uses would cut commuting, car use, congestion and pollution and make Dublin a healthier, more vibrant and more liveable city.

Paris, where the term "15-minute city" or "la ville du quart d'heure" was coined, has adopted the idea as policy.

Chamber spokesman Graeme McQueen said arranging the city in this way could have prevented some of the ghost-town scenes that emerged when workers vanished during the most restrictive periods of lockdown.

"The model that's been created for Dublin is one where people flush in and out of the city, morning and night, and when they stop, whole areas have no purpose and no life.

"Our vision is that every corner of the city would be a vibrant community in its own right so that the whole city has a life."

Iconic districts such as the Grafton Street and Henry Street shopping areas and the IFSC and Docklands financial and business hubs would not be threatened, the chamber says, but much more mixed use would be encouraged on brownfield sites.

The 2km restriction on movement introduced in the early days of Covid-19 had brought the benefits into focus, the chamber's 15-Minute City report says.

"People across the country became increasingly aware of their local facilities, and what they did and did not have access to within a 2km radius."

The concept would need more co-ordination between the capital's four local authorities and could be helped by a directly elected mayor to provide overview and leadership, the report says.