Consultant calls for State to ‘ditch’ suburban planning

Ex-Department of Finance official says new spatial development strategy is needed

Martin Shanahan of IDA Ireland, Claire Solon of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and  Daniel Susskind, author of “Future of the Professions”, at the SCSI national conference  on Friday. Photograph:  Conor McCabe Photography

Martin Shanahan of IDA Ireland, Claire Solon of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and Daniel Susskind, author of “Future of the Professions”, at the SCSI national conference on Friday. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

 

Ireland needs to “ditch our car-dependent suburbia model” of development and devise a new spatial strategy to take the pressure off Dublin, the former secretary general of the Department of Finance, John Moran, says.

Mr Moran, who now is now a business consultant, told the conference of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) at Carton House on Friday that the State does “not do planning for the future well”. He said a new spatial development strategy is needed to promote the development of higher-density “globally-connected, regionally distributed cities with a local feel”, which he dubbed “glocal” cities.

“Remember, people want more and more to be able to walk or take efficient and comfortable public transport to their work, the shop, the cinema, to sport and to the crèche. We should encourage this. It is good for the environment and for the rural Ireland we love so much,” he said.

This regional development is needed so that “pressure [can] be alleviated on Dublin’s infrastructure to give it time to roll back the worst impacts of bad planning decisions in the past without preventing continued growth”.

Attractive

Mr Moran argued that urban spaces need to be made more attractive so that people “turn their backs” on car-dependent suburban lives.

He also argued that urban spaces drive innovation and economic growth more successfully than rural areas.

To achieve a better regional spread, he called for greater transport options and connectivity between cities. He also suggested that planners should seek to build a counterbalance to Dublin’s power along the western seaboard.

“Putting this in place will however require a complete mindset change so that we reward – not penalise – those willing to chuck the idea of two cars and a garden outside the front door, to live the compromise of density rather than choose individualism as their preferred model of living,” said Mr Moran.

“It cannot be tolerated that those willing to share their lives with others in denser urban areas for the common good should have their lives put on hold by traffic jams or their services underperforming to cater for others living outside those zones.”