National Spatial Plan
October 16, 2002 at 7:54 pm #705746MGParticipant
Will this work i wonder?
Ireland’s ‘cities of future’ revealed
Brian Dowling, Irish Political Editor
SIX Irish towns have been designated as cities of the future in a revolutionary national spatial strategy to be approved shortly by the cabinet. Sligo, Dundalk, Letterkenny and a midlands triangle of Athlone, Mullingar and Tullamore are to be new “gateways”, being earmarked for more jobs and better infrastructure. The aim is to disperse Ireland’s population more evenly and to ease the congestion around the greater Dublin area.
The plan was drawn up earlier this year but a final cabinet decision was postponed because of the general election. Several large towns around the country, such as Castlebar, Tuam, Tralee and Wexford are likely to be disappointed that they were not chosen as new gateways. For this reason, too, the cabinet will not endorse the strategy until after next Saturday’s sensitive Nice referendum poll.
While the final plan now identifies six towns for future development, it also contains proposals for a number of development “hubs” to complement the gateways. These will be Monaghan, Ballina-Castlebar, Tralee-Killarney, Ennis, Kilkenny, Mallow and Wexford.
The strategy is designed to build up regional centres of population around the republic, enticing industry, services and people away from Dublin, which would spread economic development more evenly across the country.
Studies conducted for the environment department have found that more than 77% of employment in internationally traded services is concentrated in the greater Dublin area. The latest figures show that 1.5m people live in this area â€” or almost 40% of the national population.
Martin Cullen, minister for the environment, is expected to bring a final draft of the spatial strategy to the cabinet for approval before the end of the month. Ministers will sell the plan on the basis that “hubs” will lead to a more even share-out of government investment across the regions.
Gateways are defined as areas with urban populations in excess of 100,000, with strong second and third-level education facilities, big national and international enterprises, major road and rail links, regional hospitals with specialised treatment facilities, and good cultural, sporting and entertainment facilities.
By naming towns as the future gateways the government will ensure that they get better transport connections by road and rail, that international access is provided where possible by port or air, and that electricity and gas grids are provided to ensure energy options for industry. The gateways will also be prioritised for high-tech communications networks such as broadband facilities and housing strategies to ensure they develop “a pull” factor.
State agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development, Udaras na Gaeltachta and the county enterprise boards will be told to support the development of the gateways and the centres selected as “hubs”.
The strategy will set out how the government can develop “a peopled countryside” and it will recommend three main ways to achieve this: developing sound “settlement” policies; enhancing accessibility through roads and rail; and supporting strong cultural identities in distinct areas such as the gaeltacht.
In 1996, 40% of the state’s population lived outside the main cities and trends show this process is accelerating. This is largely as a result of the decline in agricultural work and because some areas simply do not have sufficient “critical mass” to attract new industries.
Even though the strategy will propose six new gateways it will also press for the continued development of existing gateways such as Cork, Waterford, Galway and Limerick/Shannon to become fully fledged centres on a par with Dublin.
It is understood the report will argue that Cork and Limerick could, in a matter of years, rival Dublin by reaching a population of more than 700,000. This would allow them to maximise the potential of two international airports, shipping ports, large employers and two universities. To achieve this, investment will be needed to improve the road and rail links between the two cities.
To stem the growth of Dublin and to stabilise its share of the national population at about 40% would mean that three quarters of the jobs likely to go to the capital in the next decade will have to be relocated elsewhere.
October 17, 2002 at 1:49 am #721215
How do they expect Cork and Limerick to reach a population of 700,000 within a few years? Do they mean the entire region between these two cities or what? The population of Cork city is only about 150,00 at the moment and Limerick is about 70-80,000.
I do think this plan offers a great opportunity for these cities and places like Waterford and Galway to avoid the mistakes that were made in Dublin and plan responsibly from the very beginning i.e. higher densities, and better planned services and amenities in general. These cities are still small enough to have avoided the headaches that disastrous planning has imposed on Dublin so its not too late.
October 17, 2002 at 9:41 am #721216DaMParticipant
There are already as many mistakes in Galway and the city is starting to suffer now from them; traffic, housing, poor social infrastructure etc.
This plan seems valid, it can be a good starting point for the future but without good substantial investment in rail and road networks; with emphasis on the rail services and densities at the nodes it will just turn the country into a large suburban traffic jam……
October 17, 2002 at 11:29 am #721217urbanistoParticipant
Its sounds like a lofty ideal doesn’t it but how will it go down with our regional representatives and their current ‘pork barrel’ mentality. Its such a sensative issue – some areas are bound to feel they are missing out and are just as deserving of these resources as somewhere else….. I foresee plenty more Jackie and Podge Healey-Raes!
Also, I wonder if its sensible to encourage our population to grow to these levels? We are just about managing with the crowd we have at the moment!
October 18, 2002 at 1:59 pm #721218
Left out Drogheda as well, much to may peoples annoyance in the NE, particularly as they have a bigger population than Dundalk
October 18, 2002 at 3:54 pm #721219
‘Annoyed’ Drogheda is putting it mildly… The Drogheda Independent’s lead story this week is something along the lines of ‘fury over city snub’.
You can’t blame them – it’s the largest provincial town in the country, it’s got feck-all facilities and now the government is saying ‘let’s develop Dundalk’.
As for developing cities like Galway and Waterford, I think it’s probably too late to reverse the approach that has already turned them into mini-Dublins – tiny centre, a few apartments, acres of low-density suburbs, all-day traffic jams.
October 18, 2002 at 4:15 pm #721220
Sady you’re may be right to an extent about it being too late for Galway, Waterford etc. On the road out to the Regional hospital in Waterford theres nothing but low-density semi-detached houses lining the roadside, and yet more being built gobbling up way more land than they need and creating a massive problem that’ll be left to future generations to deal with (just like Dublin is beginning to face now). My only hope is that the regional cities are still small enough to change.
To be honest I’m not sure the planners we have in this country have any sense whatsoever, and I’m less than optimistic that anything will change before they’ve crippled the place for good. It really is frustrating living in a country like this.
October 18, 2002 at 5:38 pm #721221
I think they already view Drogheda as part of Dublin.
October 18, 2002 at 5:49 pm #721222
While living in Waterford a couple of years ago, I was in a brand new estate of very suburban houses with large gardens less than a 10-minute WALK from the main thoroughfare.
What a waste of land.
The old city gives way to two-storey houses so quickly it’s hard to see how the urban core can be expanded at this stage. Maybe the current plans for the north quays could help the planners start again on that side. But with only one bridge…
October 18, 2002 at 6:42 pm #721223traceParticipant
You’re right about Drogheda, Paul.
The national spatial strategy was never any such thing. It couldn’t be when Dublin was so bloated, hoovering in any investment going. The only game in town was how to encourage foreigner investors (and their key managers) to relocate anywhere else, other than the greater Dublin region. It’s not just tax rates (common to all locations in the republic), telecoms, schools, arts and social facilities, clubs, restaurants and so on that are critical to such investment decisions, but international airport connections. Poxy and all as they are from Dublin, they are hopeless from anywhere else.
Does anyone remotely believe that any little town or so-called city anywhere else in Ireland can, on its own, become a counter-attraction (to outsiders) to Dublin’s destructive ‘magnet’?
If the aim is – and it is, at least aspirationally – to spread investment (which is not in the government’s giving, but rather depends on the decisions of foreign multi-nationals) around, the best we could ever hope for is the choice between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. If Dublin is the former, the latter can only be a Cork-Limerick development corridor, later extended as far as Galway.
Anything else is selling the pass. The local constituents can be placated, but nothing will stop the sclerotic growth of the capital.
October 22, 2002 at 3:00 pm #721224dc3Participant
Even more scary than the growth of the capital is the growth of minor Irish towns into urban sprawl, totally dependent on the car for access, shopping etc.
They will never be large enough to justify any local public transport other than taxis, and when the population inevitably ages will present the same problems as can already be seen in some parts of the USA – the old having to move. When they cannot any longer drive they lose their ability to function.
Just as Dublin 2000 could be predicted in 1960 this can be predicted.
October 22, 2002 at 3:19 pm #721225
Whats interesting is Dundalk and Monaghan – Dundalk to designated a gateway and Monaghan a hub…. the NEHB is busy downgrading BOTH hospitals… like someone get the left hand to talk to the right hand please….
October 23, 2002 at 12:37 pm #721226
Why don’t they admit they haven’t got a bloody clue about anything in this country. Its the usual case of lets site something in a marginal consituancy and hope they don’t vote for someone else next time!
Dundalk gets the lions share of investment in the NE whereas Drogheda has the lack of facilities, by promoting this plan they are just further draining potential investment from Drogheda and aiming it at Dundalk.
It don’t make no sense to me
October 23, 2002 at 12:53 pm #721227deepnoteParticipant
What this country needs is a good Five Year Plan.
October 23, 2002 at 12:58 pm #721228
And someone strong to implement it
October 25, 2002 at 11:55 am #721229
Have a look at page three of the Irish Times. Public transport at breaking poiint in Dublin?
The infuriating thing about reading ‘news’ stories like this is that anyone who has to commute more than a couple of miles has been living with this for years and has been telling anyone who will listen that it’s going to get worse.
You might as well run a story headed ‘trouble brewing in the middle east’.
If planning in this country was just plain bad, that would be one thing. No, planning has come up with a way of crippling Dublin that’s so efficient, it almost seems deliberate.
-Focus all major housing development in LA-style suburban sprawl 20 and 30 miles form the capital
-Don’t put any jobs or facilities in the new centres so they have to go to the city every day
-Make sure traffic all feeds into national routes in and out
-Start massively disruptive infrastructure projects all at the same time, to proceed with excruciating sloth over many years
-Have worst public transport system in Europe, forcing more and more cars onto the roads etc etc.
I presume the people who can change this have to use the same roads as the rest of us. Maybe it’s easier to ignore the traffic when you’re snoozing in the back of your ministerial car…
October 25, 2002 at 5:36 pm #721230deepnoteParticipant
AndewP you make a very good case. We are becoming a mini LA without the weather. At least if you are going to sit in traffic you should be able to put the hood down.
November 28, 2002 at 1:44 pm #721231J. SeerskiParticipant
Well like most people, I am confused over this weird document. It states that Dublin, Cork, Limerick-Shannon, Galway and Waterford are to become “Gateway towns”. Forgive me, but are these not cities already?
Also, while I agree with Sligo and Letterkenny being included, what the hell is this triangle waffle of “Athlone, Mullingar and Tullamore”. This is an absolute joke! It will just make the whole area an inefficient use of space. The weight afforded one of these towns may make it a possible counter-weight to Dublin, but all three will just make them mini-Swords! Athlone should have been the only choice here, as it has much of the outline of a city already (an I.T., two railway stations, on major road network, major industries, town bus service). But both Tullamore and Mullingar will nullify any progress in creating a major city in the Midlands.
November 28, 2002 at 2:20 pm #721232
“Martin Cullen rejected suggestions that too many towns have been designated. He defended the decision to share the status between towns as being in line with the European model. “
I diasagree minister…. too many towns… look at this map… Monaghan and Cavan arent far enough apart from each other.. cavan shouldnt have been selected as monaghan had a large hinterland in the north which it was cut off from for many years and is now refinding…… and Tuam is ricidulous – all you do is encourage ribbon development between Tuam and Galway
i reckon Cavan got it because after the leaks that monaghan had, the Cavan FFers in the constituency kicked up….
November 28, 2002 at 2:20 pm #721233urbanistoParticipant
Ah yes but both Tullamore and Millingar are very important constituencies. And so is Tuam… and Tralee and Kilarney. And Ennis. And Wexford. And Kilkenny..ops did we forget Portlaoise. And Portlaoise. And Letterkenny. And Donegal Town. And Dundalk and Drogheda…..
November 28, 2002 at 2:45 pm #721234J. SeerskiParticipant
Well I think its an absolute shambles. There is clearly no vision in this document. It is full of waffle and waffle…. There should be only three or four locations set as new “gateway” towns – none of this hub nonsense.
The effect of this plan will not be immediate or sufficient to counter Dublin’s sprawl. Is there some sort of agenda that prevents them using the word “city” in the document???? Why they are playing politics with such an important issue is beyond me. It seems that every little town wants to become a city. The government does not want a city, but “gateways” and “hubs”. What a load of…. Yet another grand failure…..with the DTO, the NDP, Metro….
Here is the report – very quick to download…..
November 28, 2002 at 4:24 pm #721235SimonParticipant
………..and to add a 20% shortage in electrical energy over the next 18 months and no plans in place……..looks like its also lights out on a genuine spatial plan as with all the plans referred to above..metro..rail-link to airport…….more “grimsville” is right..God help us all..what the hell will this country be like in 10 to 20 years from now …. vive Las Lagos.
November 29, 2002 at 8:44 am #721236
walking to the AAI offices yesterday I passed down Kildare street… on the same day that Monaghan was being earmarked for expansion, the schoolkids from the town were protesting the consistant downgrading of the General Hospital there… same is going on in Dundalk…
November 29, 2002 at 2:10 pm #721237
This is parish pump politics on a shocking scale.
Looking at the map of our little country covered with a dozen-odd growth centres outside the cities, you can almost hear the murmurs of deals being done and hands being spit on and shook in the corridors of Leinster House and around Ireland.
It’s unworkable. Consolidating and building on the strength of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford as real alternatives to Dublin should be challenge enough. Do they honestly believe that these ‘hubs’ can counterbalance the growth of a major conurbation like Dublin.
Castlebar? Tuam? Are they mad? Can you imagine a US multinational choosing Mallow over the M50?
The Midlands Triangle? Are they taking the piss? Are they thinking ‘If we draw it, they will come?’…
They won’t come. They will, as they’ve always done, go to Dublin and God knows what the place will be like in 20 years…
December 3, 2002 at 12:27 pm #721238
The National Spatial plan will not work – there are too many towns involved. It is an utter waste of time and a shambles
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