Re: Re: The Irish Town â€“ Dying At The Crossroads?
johnglas, I’m not sure whether you are deliberately misrepresenting my argument. Your “counter-example” has little or nothing to do with what I’ve described that I’ve observed first hand in France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. I’ve already spent too much time expanding on it in the other thread to try to reiterate it here. Coincidentally, the delay in responding on this thread is due to the fact that I was away on holiday to Aveyron in France – an area I’ve visited most years for the last 5 or 6. Practically every village, town and city has some degree of warehouse type retail (typically supermarkets, home supplies/DIY, fuel, sporting goods, etc.) on the outskirts. Nearly all have bustling, attractive, successful retail and leisure cores which have a real urban feel or a real community feel (depending on the size of the town).
In contrast, I’ve witnessed first hand the decline of the small Irish town and village over my lifetime (I am under 40). For example, I spent many of my childhood summers on my grandparents’ farm which touched a small village in county Kerry. The population of the village is now perhaps three times what it was then but yet the last vestiges of communal urbanity (the post-office, the two shops and the pub) are all closed. There’s an expensive restaurant mostly patronized by people from the nearest big town (which coincidentally has also seen commercial decline despite the excited announcement of a new Dunnes, Tescos or whatever which occurs every couple of years – each of which promises “rejuvinate” the town but each of which seemed to have had the opposite affect on the areas of town where they are sited) so there is zero social or community interaction except for GAA. The church is barely attended either. This decline corresponds with increasing powers of planning authorities in Ireland.
Like I said I’ve a scientific background, so empiricism is the driver for me not deductive reasoning or critical theory. However, I hardly think such an academic background is necessary; the simple exercise of observing the world, without prejudice, is enough to dismiss this particular aspect of Irish/UK planning orthodoxy. Out of town warehouse retail happily co-exists with the sort of villages and towns that I think we all admire if you are prepared to open your eyes to continental Europe.
I’d go as far as saying that listening to Irish, UK or American planners discuss how to preserve our villages, towns and cities and promote urbanism makes about as much sense to me as listing to Josef Fritzl discuss how to promote child welfare. I realise I’ve probably made enemies of half the members here with that comment but that’s what I’ve observed.