The Skehan/Sirr plan

Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:17 pm

Mary Wilson just had Lorcan Sirr on the radio. Skehan must have been asleep in the cave.

What did we find out? . . . . We found out that ''we need a plan'' and a ''plan in which the 'plan' takes precedence''.

Are we all OK with that?

He didn't mention what might be in this plan, but he did say he's been ''getting traction'' recently with the notion of having a plan, so whether that's a veiled reference to the proposed retraction to the Pale we'll have to wait and see.

Seems like a nice guy, a sort of bright hobbit to Skehan's intelligent troll.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:28 am

‘Dublin’s Future’ is an innocent looking little paperback on the shelves at the moment.

It’s a sort of cold porridge antidote to the image fest of jumpy graphics in last years ‘Redrawing Dublin’ by Paul Kearns and Motti Ruimy, and since it lists Lorcan Sirr as editor [he being one half of the double act that brought us the Skehan/Sirr Plan], I had the feeling it would be well worth a 20 minute speed read.

Image

Dublin’s Future is not completely free of visuals, there is map, with overlaid ovals, representing ‘the four cities of Dublin’ that apparently are ‘beginning to emerge’; the ‘Centre City’ and the ‘Edge City’ where economic activity happens and the ‘Outer City’ and the ‘Middle City’ where people will be asked to live. At a cursory glance, Tallaght and Clondalkin may be in the wrong oval. There is also a bar-chart depicting the pedestrian traffic on the Liffey bridges - with what appeared to be some challenging finding – but printed up-side-down to frustrate easy digestion. Otherwise this book is pretty much all grim text, filled with earnest argument, until we reach chapter 13, entitled: ‘Not Written by an Economist’, which, inevitably, is penned by that great sower of land-mines, Conor Skehan.

Gird your loins and tip-toe on.

‘Dublin has no future unless we start to see and accept two things:

First and foremost, Dublin, like all cities, is an economy – a collection of enterprises – not a collection of buildings, because real estate is merely a symptom of economic activity.

Secondly, Dublin is rapidly becoming a city region which is an economy. It is no longer a place, no longer a big town’.


Here we go again

‘Planning fails when it prepares for what it is believed should happen instead of preparing for what is most likely to happen’.

That’s like saying, we won’t plan to put traffic lights on that busy junction, we’ll just plan to build a hospital on one corner and a graveyard on the other.

If we lose what little sense we have of ‘place’ and put all our eggs in the basket case that is our economy, I think we can kiss any notion of urban planning good night.

That can’t be what Skehan has in mind, surely.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby StephenC » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:10 am

Where did you find this Gunter? Hodges Figges...seems worth a look.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby shadow » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:42 pm

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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:21 pm

‘twas Hoggis Figgis Stephen as it happens, in there on the left where the light is crap, you’d almost think they don’t want you reading the books with their lousy 15 watt bulbs.

There was a promo article in the Irish Times on Nov. 9 last, which I was going to let go by, but since we’re on the subject . . .

The IT article trumpeted the familiar Sirr Skehan line that ‘what is good for Dublin is very good for Ireland’ and then went on from there to point out that ‘The engine of Dublin now stretches from Louth to Wicklow, and out to Westmeath . . .’

That latter phrase is not delivered in any kind of [Frank McDonald style] rebuke, as you’d expect, it’s more a case of – look how big our engine is.

Somewhat at odds with all of this, and seemingly borrowing from the Kearns/Motti thesis, the article also states, in the things to do section, that; ‘Dublin City now needs a manager with a proven urban ethos to run and improve the city, a person who will live in the city, cycle in the city, who will engage with its social, economic and transport problems on a daily basis’.

There’ll need to be a high fitness threshold in the job description too, if we’re asking this guy to cycle in from Westmeath.

Everything that Sirr Skehan propound is at odds with the concept of the ‘compact city’.

Planners are simple folk they can’t accommodate two different notions simultaneously, the Compact City and the City Region, it’s one or the other.

In an Irish context, the City Region is not even a proper planning concept, it’s just an attempt to rebrand urban sprawl and make it acceptable, jump aboard a run away train.

We were just beginning to succeed in getting the Compact City concept into the consciousness of those who write the development plans in this country, the last thing this country needs is someone of the stature of Sirr Skehan telling us that all that dodgy re-zoning that our gobshite councillors masterminded to feather their own nests over that last fifty years was really just Dublin rebooting its engine and getting ready for the 21st century. Come on onboard everyone.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby onq » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:55 am

I am *so* sorry I missed out on this thread previously, because it looks like it is a fascinating set of comments both by Skehan/Sirr, Gunter and others.

I have a problem with the idea of citing the 3-400 year old examples of cities being defined by walls as a "good thing" - as opposed to setting limits within with densities can be met.

Walls were not put there primarily to define cities, with the greatest respect - they were put there to protect cities, and there is a huge difference in this.

While it is true that the design of military defensive fortifications were one of the first specialized building related professional activities, they were not undertaken as notional defined boundaries within which growth was allowed to occur up to a certain density.

Both Michelangelo and Leonardo designed fortifications for Italian City States [Citation needed]

Defensive emplacements and walls were put there for defining absolutely the growth of a city or for denoting the limits of a city.
On the contrary most prosperous cities soon outgrew their defensive enclosures.

Those cities that stayed entirely within their walls were those suffering the effects of an economic migration to "greener pastures", or whose geographic siting meant there was no easy way to expand beyond the walls (step escarpment, cliff, coast or river)

An obvious example of the natural progression of walling and extension in a successful is Paris.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_walls_of_Paris

To move beyond the walls was a risk taken by newcomers to the city environs.
It was an economic need to be near a trading centre that drew people to cities, but cities levied taxes within the walls, justifying them by the safety offered by the city and the services - such as they were offered by water supply and sanitation.

This is not to say such walling is not a feature of cities the world over - on the contrary, but my point is that the primary purposes of such walls was defensive and not intended as a tool of urban planning

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ci ... sive_walls

All of these became obsolete with the invention of the aeroplane and later, the rocket, so the primary reason for investing in massive walling surrounding a town, fortification and defense - vanished overnight.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Skehan/ Sirr plan represents an accurate representation of what is going on and their assessment of what a city is seems accurate.

The National Spatial Strategy was doomed to failure from the start because of a lack of Governance.

If you intend to implement a plan which requires a strict hierarchy of development for towns and a similar hierarchy of development for regions, then for this to be successfully implemented you need to have a tier of government higher than County Managers and a tier of oversight on a short term basis between County Managers and the Minister for the Environment, unless you think its a good idea that the Minister become mired in controversy.

For that to happen you need a champion, driver, overseer, call the position what you will.
For development and administration at County Level, you need a County Manager.
For co-ordination at regional level you need a Regional Board with a rotating chairman at least, possibly a director.

But for a National Spatial Strategy, you need a Director of National Spacial Strategy.

Cities and their components - buildings, roads and services - are merely reflections of living and economic activity.

We have a National Economic Strategy, but no Director of National Economic Strategy.

We have gone so far as to produce plans that offer a window dressing of hope 9hubs, gateways and all the other bullshit) for outlying districts, while the real economic and political power still lies in the cities.

Anyone get run over in the rush of civil servants wanting to decentralize?

Me neither.

And with the inability of a Government to spread the largess of Central Government, the National Spatial Strategy AND the National Economic Strategy fall flat on their respective shiny and dear-to-procure covers.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think if we're talking about realities or setting limits - through economic incentives, zoning and use classes - and not harking back to the necessities of defending cities in times of ground based war, we should probably inject a little more reality into this thread.

http://www.seankenny.ie/news/docs/Regio ... me%20I.pdf
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby onq » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:15 pm

I would be very wary of strategies which seem to be causing the rest of us to pack densely in a defined area, easy to take out or control from the air, while the most aggressive military power on the planet is testing its unmanned high altitude drones on civilian populations in the middle east and Israel has a rocket with a 10,000 mile range.

Its easy to lull people into a false sense of security in peacetime - it all changes when war breaks out and you're left wondering "Why the Fuck did I not see the disadvantages in doing this?" The survivors of Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki know the reality.

Ir architects and planners are supposed to plan for the future, they should at least realize that not all futures may be rosy and defensive military planning has been integrated with city planning for hundreds of years.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:03 am

In all honesty onq, if what you just posted appeared on the History Channel you’d have flipped it yourself to Ice Road Truckers before we’d even heard from the second excitable conspiracy junky in a sad hat.

We’re talking about the future planning of Dublin here, you’re not asking us to mix planning arguments with - what if Kim Ming Yong bombs us.

For the record, I was just pointing out [4 years ago] that for something like the first 3,000 years, or so, of urban history, defensive considerations tended to dictate that the edges of cities were defined by physical boundaries and that it has actually only been in the last 300 years, or so, that we’ve had to contend with the notion of a city without boundaries. I hadn’t anticipated that this would release your inner military strategist onq, it was just a planning observation.

I was also pointing out that, of necessity, cities - confined by physical boundaries – had no choice but to make maximum use out of all available space and essentially the whole urban concept is inextricably linked to spatial constraints. In general, the history of urbanism would tend to suggest that the benefits of compactness usually outweighed the disadvantages of being a sitting duck for fire and plague and when increasing success and prosperity resulted in a level of growth that could no longer be contained by the existing boundaries, urban enlargement via concentric rings, whether consciously following organic models or not, was often found to work well.

I do accept that if some of us are living in the outer reaches of Westmeath, then certainly some of us will stand a better chance of surviving any atomic fury unleashed on O’Connell Street, but that wasn’t really the peril I was attempting to highlight. The danger that I saw, and still see, in the Sirr Skehan vision of a ‘Dublin Functional Urban Region’, or DUFUR, is that it takes the focus off efforts to re-engineer the compact city model, and it simultaneously legitimizes the haphazard urban sprawl that has spread the city’s bulging midriff all over its straining-to-breaking-point commuter belt. The economic imperative that Sirr Skehan seem to believe necessitates this bloated city-region vision is the heavyweight world of global competition, but [although I might be only an amateur cardio-vascular surgeon] even I can tell that a city this out of shape won’t be competing in the global ring with anyone.

Dublin’s strengths are that it has [through the actions of our forefathers] an inherent legibility, is of manageable size, has an enviable location, interesting layers of heritage [not yet fully destroyed] and it is recognised to be, by whatever international standards judge these things, a comparatively liveable city.

Dublin’s weaknesses are its car dependency, its poor public realm and its miserable density, all of which are interconnected and all of which result in the strength of the core being continuously drained by the demands of the periphery. Adding ever more periphery at ever greater remoteness from the core is just not the solution.

onq, can you rewind to Hello Gunter and start again
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby onq » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:01 pm

Hmmm.

Starting with an ad hominem seldom impresses Gunter, which is why I didn't (I complemented your comments) and why I suggest you don't continue in that vein if you want to maintain your credibility as a poster of note on Archiseek.
I'll put this one down to a lingering Christmas hangover, but don't keep it up, there's a good chap.

Let's take your relevant points.

"The danger that I saw, and still see, in the Sirr Skehan vision of a ‘Dublin Functional Urban Region’, or DUFUR, is that it takes the focus off efforts to re-engineer the compact city model, and it simultaneously legitimizes the haphazard urban sprawl that has spread the city’s bulging midriff all over its straining-to-breaking-point commuter belt."

"Dublin’s weaknesses are its car dependency, its poor public realm and its miserable density, all of which are interconnected and all of which result in the strength of the core being continuously drained by the demands of the periphery. Adding ever more periphery at ever greater remoteness from the core is just not the solution."

Reading this piece, its as if the Internet never occurred, as if communications by Skype and video don't happen every day, as if people who produce things cannot collaborate and the benefits of Globalization are not being realised every day (I do not slavishly support it, not by any means, but credit where its due). Cars do not define my work, attendances or interaction with clients or local authorities. Much of my work can be done on the desktop.

The Leon Krier ideal of "living over the shop" was born out of necessity, not lifestyle choice, by those who had to do business this way to survive economically.

Now people seem to look back on such a situation through rose tinted spectacles, without the attendant horrors of the day, which included huge risk of death by fire, disease, pollution, poor sanitation, and being run over by a horse-drawn carriage having slipped on dung in the streets. It was the squalor of Paris slums that drive the quest for modern accommodation for families and latterly for old folks, incorporating the benefits of fresh air, light and amenity. Until the morally superior Greens with their wood pellets and "sustainability" tried to choke us to death again.

Personally I never liked city living - I was born in the suburbs and have lived all my life there.

I hate commuting, which is why I work from home (with Planning Permission I might add - a bit of a rarity in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown). I commuted for years from Wicklow, no less, not even the outer suburbs, forced to buy a house where I could in the early nineties, that suited my pocket and supported a good way of living in the fresh air - sometimes too "fresh" if you get my "drift".

I cannot speak for Dublin as an entity, as you and Sirr Skehan seem to do, but I can speak from my own experience.

Dublin is constrained to the south by mountains and the east by the sea, to the north by a green belt and flat land relatively poorly drained - still! The city will expand hugely westwards and to a limited degree via reclaimed land to the east. There will never be a sprawling conurbation to the southwest because of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and European Wildlife Directives. Northwards matters are not so constrained, while the city's Commercial Core has historically moved eastwards, as the development of Docklands has shown with the relocation of offices from Fitzwilliam towards the Grand Canal Basin.

The city is moving and it is doing so by responding to many different stimuli, most of which are economic in nature and not due to the imposition of walls. Walls are well gone as the definers of development, having been left behind by land-use zoning. Recognizing the National Spatial Strategy was never more than a vote-getting gimmick by the discredited Fianna Fáil -led government that introduced it is not something Sirr Skehan should be reviled for - rather he/she,it should be praised for facing the facts.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:23 am

That last point is fair. Sirr Skehan are doing a service in raising these planning issues, issues that the political classes are too cowardly to raise, and you're right they should certainly not be reviled for attempting to chart a course beyond the National Spatial Strategy, god knows we need to move beyond that, my concern is that the course that they chart is the wrong course.

Using a methodology based on 'likelihood' sounds almost unassailably grounded in common sense, but it isn't common sense, it's a fatalistic resignation that we're incapable of planning. Forward thinking based on 'Likelihood' is almost the complete antithesis of Planning. Planning is supposed to be about defining what you want to achieve and then charting a course to get there. Planning based on 'Likelihood' is just an attempt to jump aboard a runaway train and pretend that we're driving it.

I don't buy the notion that, to compete, this country needs a conurbation, or 'City Region' of some minimum engine size. This is a small country and, as onq has confirmed, the need to be in close physical proximity to each other in order to do business is diminishing with every passing day and, in any case, with our Celtic Tiger roads, nobody's more than a couple of hours away from each other anyway.

That's all I'm going to say on the subject right now, but I am going to make a conscious effort to read the book properly in the coming days, there may be important passages in it that I'm missing. I don't necessarily believe that, but you never know.

I do apologise for ruffling your feathers onq, I'd no idea you were insecure
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby onq » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:02 am

<gigglesnort!>

I just hate to see what seems like a keen intellect wasted in launching lame ad hominems.

Besides its been so long since I occupied the moral high ground, even fleetingly, I wanted to recapture the experience - LOL!

Revert when you've time and we might traverse the concept of how the former administration might have intended to enforce/administer a National Plan for either economics or spatial development without someone in charge... or a civil service willing to relocate...

Until then.

ONQ.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby corkblow-in » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:38 pm

The National Spatial Strategy was laudable, but political interference led to it being diluted and (to use a favourite Skehan phrase) 'the jam being spread too thin'. However to really see the lack of political will to develop a co-ordinated strategy for the future development of the country - take the NSS map and overlay it with the decentralisation locations proposed - its both funny and depressing to see how plan-led development is considered in this country.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:13 pm

True, but I think we're in a sticky mess whether you scrape all the jam onto one side or not.

I suspect that, in line with the times that were in it back in 2007, the authors of the National Spatial Strategy imagined that jam wouldn't be a problem, but even allowing for that slight miscalculation, the whole thing should have been handed back to them at the press conference once it emerged that one of the four new national urban 'Gateways' was actually triangulated to a bog somewhere equidistant from the modest market towns of Mullingar, Tullymore and Athlone.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby onq » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:14 pm

I don't think the national spatial strategy was properly conceived at all.

At best it was aspirational beyond its means or ability.
Suggesting that people would decentralize without first having manged this changed through the appropriate channels was incompetent.
Basing the national spatial strategy - in principle - on reversing the flight from the land to the cities - a world wide phenomenon in developed and developing countries - was simply absurd.

Skehan Sir at least have the matter in clear focus.
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Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Postby gunter » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:50 am

Image

Dublin's Future

Chapter 14 is entitled ‘The Future of the Past’, by Gillian O’Brien, a historian out of Dublin City University who, the biographical notes explain, is currently doing some retro CSI on the murder of Dr. Patrick Cronin, which will shortly all be explained in a book entitled; ‘The Murder of Dr. Patrick Cronin’.

Oddly for a contribution entitled; ‘The Future of the Past’, in a book entitled; ‘Dublin’s Future’, the ‘future’ and the contribution that the legacy of the ‘past’ could make to enhancing that future, doesn’t particularly feature in this piece.

What does feature in this peace is the information that Dublin was once ‘the second city of the British Empire’, O’Brien seems so impressed with this, oft repeated and very fleeting, historical nugget that she repeats it herself three times in seven pages, but to what purpose is unclear. Maybe the message is that if we all pull up our socks we can be back up there with Birmingham or Calcutta or whoever the current imperial [commonwealth family of equals] runner-up badge holder may be.

Sticking with the theme of lost colonial status, the chapter continues with some musings on Dublin street names, both the colonial ones and the descriptive ones, but again it’s just the usual suspects, Winetavern Street and Fishamble Street etc. with their abundantly obvious derivations, there’s no new research throwing light on the sedentary origins of Lazy Hill or making the tantalizing connection between Crooked Staff and dodgy 17th century employment agencies.

Moving on, the piece lingers a while on the topic of commemoration, pointing out that ‘A Plethora of centenary commemorations will shortly be upon us’, which O’Brien then lists out - from the 1913 Lock-out to the Civil War in 1922. Clearly these forthcoming commemorations are going to present a challenge with the potential for the re-opening of old wounds.

I dunno, in the circumstances with money being tight and all that and with us having enough problems on our plate already, maybe we should just shelve all these problematic 20th century commemorations, with their sensitivity issues, and just go for a full blooded re-enactment of Clontarf out on Dollymount Strand in 2014, something we can all get behind. Those little feckers with their plastic helmet horns have had it coming for years now with there unprovoked roaring at unsuspecting civilians from the safety of their amphibious landing craft, it’s long past time we gave them a dose of Irish Christianity, Christian Brothers style.

In other issues, O’Brien recounts the G.P.O. / Abbey Theatre proposed nest hoping episode of a couple of years back, before finally rolling up her sleeves and having a right dig at the Jimmy Deenihan and his - Dublin-Smithsonian-in-the-Old-Parliament-House-rural-TD-light-bulb-moment.

Quote: ‘to take the former Parliament Building and transform it into a literary centre and a museum dedicated to the 1916 Rising and call it the ‘O’Connell Centre fot the Arts’ makes as much sense as taking the Tower of London and transforming it into the ‘Alfred the Great Centre for the Study of Dickens and Cromwell’.

Ok, she gets points for that.

The chapter concludes with a reprise of the more prominent planning sagas in our troubled planning history, Fitzwilliam Street, Hume Street, Wood Quay, before finishing on the somewhat intangible themes of ‘The City of the Imagination’ and, ‘More than one truth’.

In slipping away from the challenge of drawing actual concrete conclusions, use is made of an Eileen Battersby, Irish Times, opinion piece, quote from 2010, . . . 'most cities are built of stone and brick, but Dublin . . . is firmly planted on a bedrock of words’.

And there it is, the aul sod syndrome reinvented for the 21st century. Don’t worry about our civic realm deficit, our slide down the urban scale, our neglect of built-heritage, sure our culture is literary, our gifts are of the mind . . . . stone and brick cities are for saps.
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