Re: Re: The Irish Town â€“ Dying At The Crossroads?
The fact that Irish towns are trying to cling on to some retail foot hold is holding them back in my view.
I think this is an absolutely critical point in that shopping is not the only benchmark or critical element in the definition of ‘town’. Towns exhibit a range of functions (and this has been used to ‘classify’ them, although I’m not quite sure what the point of that is outside of the academy), but it is extremely difficult to plan for these, or to restrict development on the basis that a town does not come into a particular category. (Although the one area where this is necessary is shopping; retail has no civic conscience and one developer will happily destroy the viability of another’s development in another town in the interest of short-term profit.)
The development of towns is organic; even so-called commuter towns have arisen in response to a perceived need, or policy, or pressure (e.g. high house prices, shortage of sites). We are currently seeing many of these towns in their raw state; some will thrive and develop, some will languish. What is needed is a policy of guidance and management, not coercion, and a strong sense of civic engagement. Nobody will get it ‘right’, but we all need to try.