Re: Re: Lexington’ Vision
@St Luke wrote:
I enjoyed your vision of Cork, but it is remarkably exlusionary. In it you say nothing about how you might imagine how new developments and urban policy over the next 10-20 years might deal with the persistent levels of urban inequality which are part of the current economic and social fabric of the city. By envisioning the city-island as a pleasuredome for wealthy middle class families in upmarket appartments, and populating the river bank with cafes and marinas to entertain corportate clients, its a little difficult see a future for Cork which ensures equality and inclusion for all its inhabitants….
I’m glad you brought this up…
…if you remember, I did refer to docklands living, as I hope it would be, to be ‘superior, but not necessarily exclusive’. Indeed, I recognise that my portrayl depicts something of a middle-to-upper class utopia, but it would be my hope that this regeneration would be devised to the benefit of all Cork’s citizens. Most developers, when creating residential developments, would generally hope to aim at the middle to upper markets, as these markets have greater resources and allow the developer maximise his return to investment ratio. Evidently, 70% of all Cork’s current apartment developments is aimed at these markets. In their position, if you stake your money on an investment project, you will clearly wish to maximise your benefit return also. It may not be an ideal circumstance, but it is a reality. Quite often, affordable housing schemes are left to local authorities to provide alone, or in a joint initiative with which a private developer can depend on the authority to help reduce his/her risk. I do acknowledge some private developers have embarked on such affordable developments at their own initiative e.g. McInerney. The lack of private investment in affordable housing has led local authorities to introduce new measures in order to attain social housing units (for example, a new O’Brien & O’Flynn housing development near Douglas was granted planning on the condition that it provided 20 units to the local authority for affordable housing purposes – something OB&OF tried vehemently to recompense, offering money instead of housing units. Their efforts were unsuccessful).
A fact of reality is that the economy is driven predominantly by the so-called middle to upper income earners, a fact stated by the Government and CSO (http://www.irlgov.ie) – but this doesn’t mean we should overlook other classes of income which provide an important percentage in their economic contribution. Nor does it mean we should create a scenario by which members of such categories (an unfortunate phrase) should be denied the ability to ascend into alternate brackets. The current rise in housing prices, I do believe, is driving such blocks to this – and while developers are profiting healthily from it, the other end of the sepctrum is finding it increasingly difficult to keep its head above the water. I should hope that there is a levelling in housing prices (as indicated by recent BoI and ESRI stats) inflation over the coming months. Hopefully, as the population continues to grow (approaching the 5m mark – projected – for 2018), a greater wealth base will afford the continuation of such existing developments, whilst creating a more sustainable affordable housing market with greater private participation.
The docklands I envision will indeed probably be driven by the mid-to-upper market categories – as I said, this is where investment predominantly follows. Furthermore, members of such markets are in the majority associated, participating members of the operations, businesses and development which such investment brings. It may not be a liked picture, but it is a reality. The development processes and associated investment bring with them a greater dispersion of wealth (though this may not be even, it remains evident). I highlight the effects which Mahon Point has brought to what was considered an unemployment blackspot of Cork – the joint public-private funded training programmes have created 1,200 jobs for residents of the region within the shopping centre alone, this will rise to (projected) 6,000 in 2009. The increased level of construction activity around the city has generated employment activities among those who may not have had but sought work – accepted that some of this work is only temporary, the fact is however, that it provides the skills, money and incentive among these workers to allow them pursue and attain future employment elsewhere. It is a consequence, that though the tide rises higher in some places than others, the water level rises generally throughout.
The Cork I envision – and, believe it or not, it may indeed by where it is heading strategically, is an inclusive one. I do not pretend to believe every single individual will benefit unequivocally, nor do I state that the benefits will be entirely balanced – but I do state, that Cork will benefit at large. Look what has happened already; the increased prosperity of the region, fuelled by investment and development and so on, has raised the average weighted income across the Cork city area. This has seen families who had never left their neighbourhood before enjoy the ability to take a summer holiday abroad (I recognise the Ryanair-factor in that too!); allowed projects like Mahon Point become not simply viable, but unprecedented successes; houses in even the most unexpected areas revamp, extend and renew; and so on and so on.
In my envisionment, I did not have the opportunity (for spatial reasons) to outline how I would wish to see the socio-economic fabric of Cork city develop alongside this new regeneration. Nor was I able to outline how I wish to achieve them. I could gladly do so if you wish – but this is not the forum to do so. I think in outlining how I would like to see, and may well see, the city develop – it is a little unfair to assume so much of my opinion for these aspects of society without a clear chance to reference them. Is it not a little stereotypical to associate cafe culture to one faction of society – like the corporate? Who says they all have to be Canary Wharf? I would certainly never imply that this was so – and in my depiction, if that was the led conclusion, may I now clarify that this is the intention. Paintings on a gallery wall are open to an observers interpretation, but it isn’t always what the artist had in mind I suppose.