Re: Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan
Some of the main points from the Skehan / Sirr articles:
‘Planning for a successful Ireland of, say, 2030, means identifying, examining and working with, not against, the forces that will shape our future. To plan a future Ireland on a business-as-usual, or, worse still, on a politican basis, as we have already done with the plan for the decentralisation of government, would be another exercise in folly.’
I think it would be fair to say that most people with an interest in planning in Ireland, think that the plan to decentralise government was an embarrassing shambles. In any other country it would have been laughed out of court.
Having said that, there’s little doubt that the original concept was sound enough, but the dispersment to every marginal seat in the state was a fiasco.
‘The small size and markedly eastern distribution of Irish settlements is a reality that few policies recognise, or accommodate . . .’
This is true of the Dublin commuter belt towns, everything from Ardee through Mullingar to Arklow, but it’s not true of the established regional cities, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Derry and Belfast, which are remarkably well distributed around the full perimeter of the island.
‘ . . . very few settlements have reached the critical size of 100,000 that allows all of the benefits of city life to begin to occur.’
Well all of the above cities are already on, or near, that threshold! As well as that, they all have centuries of tradition that has sustained them through times that were a lot more problematic than this.
I think it would be fair to say that the attempts to counter balance, what is perceived to be, the disproportionate growth of Dublin, are well intentioned, just ham fisted. Where the government decentralisation plan is daft is that it attempts to take government departments, the most urban of institutions, and stick them in market towns all over the place. The logical approach, surely, would have been to decentralise departments to the regional cities. Centres of gravity, critical mass, all of that stuff could have happened, could still happen! You don’t counter balance one big stone on the edge of a plate with a bunch of pebbles in the middle, you counter balance it with a ring of medium sized stones all around the rest of the rim.
I believe what I said at the start of this thread, that cities, and towns for that matter, need to look at themselves as entities not regions, and giving them defined physical edges will be crucial in that process. People constantly go on about the bigger picture, you’re missing the bigger picture, this is happening, you can’t stop it, but you stick a frame on it, it doesn’t look scary any more, it’s just a bigger picture and it’ll take a few more more people to hang it.