Irish Towns – future planning

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    • #708290
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      If you come from outside ireland you will surely know that most of Irelands towns are twisty turvey little streets that are very difficult to negiotate and dont offer much space for larger shops and modern accomadation.

      How come the towns or the country didnt try to start afresh and break the town up into different districts. For example having an old quarter and new quarter. A new quarter would just be an agreed set of streets with utilities and road markings installed with proper planning in place for retail/accomadation/etc.

      Local authorties should really sit down and agree on how towns should grow in the future to set plans. It would drastically improve the imagine of this country from a nation of tiny little topsy turvy towns.

      Your opinions please

    • #763958
      ctesiphon
      Participant

      Are there any bits of your character that you think might be unique to you, Maskhadov? Any parts that you’d hate to see homogenised into an everyman (or everywoman?) type? Any features of which you are particularly fond?

      “Tiny little topsy turvy towns” – not a description I particularly like, but I know what you’re getting at – are an intrinsic part of the Irish rural landscape. I for one am happy that the streets of our rural towns “don’t offer much space for larger shops”. As someone on another board of which I’m a member said yesterday, that’s a bit like going into McDonald’s and complaining that they serve Big Macs.

      One reason why towns didn’t start afresh was that Ireland lacked the prosperity to drive such a need for much of the twentieth century. Then by the time we became prosperous enough, the car was king and all that was being built was identikit housing estates and single dwellings in the countryside, not to mention the poor reception that the British New Towns had received since the 1960s. In recent years, some local authorities have turned a corner and are starting to think about how towns should grow, but organically rather than with new quarters tacked onto them. It’s a long way off being common practice, but it’s a start.

      I like what we’ve got, not despite their idiosyncracies but because of them.

    • #763959
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      hi ctesiphon 🙂

      Im not sure, maybe there are parts of my character that are unique to me and no one else:cool:. But this is about irish towns up and down the country. So lets concentrate on that

      (Personally I think semi-d’ should be outlawed in the cities and suburbs of the cities. But thats another thread.)

      Im not saying that we should knock down buildings in the small towns of little consequence but what I am saying is that future planning should take the entire town and its surrounding areas as a whole. For example, future streets should be wide enough, there should be a proper mix of medium dentisty accomadation, a mix of buisness and retail should be incorporated into a new area. Easy access for goods vehicles, the public and public transport.

      Most development in small to medium town Ireland is ad hoc. There is no masterplan for most towns (AFAIK), its just plan for a small area and build. I know we were a very poor country 15 odd years ago. But that is no reason not to start planning for the future. All the towns will continue to grow but if its not properly carried out wtih a TOP DOWN approach as opposed to BOTTOM UP then we will continue to have poor quality irish towns.

      The small streets and pokey buildings are brilliant if you want to bring in tourists but not very pratical in the 21st century if you want to run a modern business or live in them (for most people anyway).

      Having an old quarter is what a lot of countries did to manage the problem. I just think that this idea hasnt been properly thought of by the people in charge. Ireland faces 20-30 years of growth, we can continue to build in the current topsy turvey manner or we can go for a more structure top down planned approach.

      Personally i think we should take what we have at the moment, enhance it, while drawing up new streets in green field areas and continue to go for a more structure top down planned approach.

    • #763960
      ctesiphon
      Participant

      @Maskhadov wrote:

      Im not sure, maybe there are parts of my character that are unique to me and no one else:cool:. But this is about irish towns up and down the country. So lets concentrate on that

      The point I was making was that we should try to preserve what makes our places unique and varied rather than try to make them conform to some ideal of efficiency.
      I’m not sure if, by topsy-turvy, you’re referring to the physical layout of our towns or to the process bywhich they’ve developed. If the former, I disagree as I said above; if the latter, I agree as I say below.
      I think planning is moving, albeit slowly, in the direction you wish, through Local Area Plans and other devices such as Village Design Statements etc., but I agree that the current method of landowner/developer-driven progress serves only to benefit those connected to the development rather than the wider community.
      Part of the problem is that, to an extent, the horse has already bolted. But that’s the nature of economic growth and progress- by the time it’s acknowledged for what it is, rather than a short burst of activity, it’s often too late to plan for it, and planning for something that might not happen is seen as a waste of precious resources in fallow times.

    • #763961
      Devin
      Participant

      Maskhadov, have you been to Ongar near Clonsilla? It’s a typical new greenfield suburban housing district, with a mix of semi-d & apartment development. But in order to give the place a ‘centre’, they’ve created from scratch a 19th-century-style town main street – it’s quite absurd! …so you have setbacks and twists in the building line, variations in heights and widths, underpasses, pictched roofs…
      It’s easy to knock (and I burst out laughing when I saw it), but they went out of their way to create a distinct centre & sense of place, which is usually woefully absent in these places (but perhaps they took too literally the urgings that we need to create sucessful places in new development like we did in the past!).

    • #763962
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      I dont know Devin.

      I just talk to people from the continent and they say this place is very hiddly piddly. I agree that we have to keep our existing buildings as much as possible but i dont see why we cant just start on fields surrounding the towns (most of the towns are small) and properly design roadways, small parks, and all the rest of it.

    • #763963
      lexington
      Participant

      I like the multi-faceted nature of traditional Irish towns, its what distinguishes them and provides a sense of character. How dull would a place like Kinsale or even Galway city centre if it was a planned grid of verticals and horizontals.

      However, are you saying that in terms of prospective town development we should have a more structured approach to their format? I undertstand that adding on a little here and there subject to how a town grows can make way for a right old mess when it comes to the layout of any urban area – and essentially poor planning allows such naturally evolving aspects eat into our greenspace as well with no true sense of definition between landscapes – but still I suppose it was that sort of development that allowed character to establish in places like I mentioned above.

      A good example of how a naturally evolving ‘town’ (city) was taken and formatted into a more structured approach is that of the Eixample district in Barcelona. (see below):

      The old city centre is found within the navy-line divide, while the Eixample district can be seem outside the divide. The map displays a clear variation in the planning techniques – that is from none to a grid system. In terms of traffic management and navigation, of course there is a good argument for that type of layout in strategic planning terms, but it also leads to a sense of monotony. Organised boredom. Having said that, good planning can accommodate a mix of layouts and streetscapes decorated with appropriately located and well designed buildings can break-up the sense of monotony such formats can often lay victim to.

    • #763964
      anto
      Participant

      Limerick’s expanded with a logical Grid pattern in the late 18th century and 19th century. Limerick consists of a historic core of English Town/ Irish town and Newtownpery, the latter chacterised by Georgian architecture and a grid pattern of streets. It is this part that most people recognise now as Limerick city centre. It’s true that the preservation the Georgian achitecture is patchy and the spread of PVC windows is unfortunate.

      Of course in more recent times Limerick’s expansion, as elsewhere, has been characterised by sprawling estates and out of town retail parks. The city centre, it’s true has seen some good developments esp. along the river bank.

    • #763965
      jimg
      Participant

      Some of the most picturesque and admired of Irish towns and cities were planned so I don’t really buy the idea that the (effectively) unplanned expansion is what gives Irish towns and cities their “charm”. The complete opposite is the case in my opinion. I find that the unplanned outer ring of most Irish towns and cities is generally unattractive and that the small urban cores are the attractive and interesting bits. The latter in most cases were planned to some degree or other.

      As a matter of interest, have we built any townscapes/city scapes in the last 100 years at all? All development in the country seems to have been once-off rural, suburban or infill in existing urban centres. This is simply unsustainable. We need to relearn how to build towns and cities like the continentals do.

    • #763966
      Maskhadov
      Participant

      Its exactly what Im saying. We can have our traditional towns in the centre with a more structure approach outside it. Just because it is structured or grided, it doesnt have to be boring. Architects can design exciting and unique buildings on a grid type system.

      It doesnt even need to be a grid type system either , just a more organised top down approach from one agency. There is an awful sprawl, ribbon development and other nasty things outside the centre with a lot of irish towns.

      We could take care of all that if a political decision was made to try to put order with future expansion of our towns. We are facing a few decades of growth and I personally belive that we should try to develop our towns in a managed structured way.

      With all the bypasses we are building throughout the country, it is a perfect oppurtunity to go about planning.

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