Friday 18 January 2019

Paul Melia: Towns pay price as residents are forced to make daily commute

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Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Spiralling house prices during the Celtic Tiger boom led to the creation of many dormitory towns.

As people fled from the cities in search of a more affordable home - in particular Dublin - small towns rapidly grew.

Many of the towns highlighted as losing the bulk of their resident workers on a daily basis due to the lack of jobs had fewer than 1,000 people just over 20 years ago.

Over the past two decades, housing has been allowed develop without restriction, while little attention appears to have been made to growing jobs.

Houses were thrown up with little regard to how people get around, meaning residents often drive to the local town instead of walking or cycling. Schools places can be in short supply, as can access to services like healthcare and libraries.

Because there are few employers and employees, the businesses which cater for such - cafés, sandwich bars, banks and so on - don't exist to the same extent as they might otherwise do.

If, as many experts argue, it's population which attracts business and employers, why have we allowed lots of areas to grow instead of concentrating on just a few?

While no town can compete with Dublin, Galway, Cork or the other cities, they can offer something different.

The reason we have lots of towns with lots of people but no jobs is largely political: nowhere can be seen to be losing out, all areas must get housing and development levies.

We're left with no clear winners but lots of losers, especially those living in towns losing populations and those in what are effectively extended housing developments.

Irish Independent

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