Sunday 25 February 2018

We must curb one-off housing to make our rural roads safe

Lorcan Sirr and Suzanne Meade

There are many arguments both for and against one-off housing, but one aspect of the debate that gets little attention is the road safety implications in a country where speeding is an endemic problem.

Countries that urbanise early tend to romanticise their rural landscape. They idealise it, protect it, and have strict policies restricting inappropriate development. The UK excels at this, and its countryside is a well-signposted, well-organised and safe pleasure to visit. Countries that urbanise late - like Ireland - tend to have a more pragmatic relationship with the countryside, where it is a place of work, a resource, and somewhere to live.

For both the romantics and the pragmatics, it is this 'somewhere to live' aspect that causes most problems. For the romantics, it is mostly about visual impact on the landscape; for the pragmatists, it is about the social and economic costs of living in such a dispersed, non-nucleated fashion.

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