Re: Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan
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.
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
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?
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.