Dublin: the case for green space

The housing crisis will not be solved by undermining natural capital assets

 

The scandalous homelessness caused by our persistent housing crisis should undoubtedly be a priority for policy-makers. So the willingness of Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan to think outside the box on housing questions should be welcomed.

He is right to point out, as he did while speaking in a private capacity last week, that property speculation by individual home-owners, as well as by developers, is a key problem. His call to reverse our preference for owner occupancy in favour of renting has merit.

But the public good would not be served by his proposal to release parklands, currently zoned as amenity/open space, for building.

The public good would not be served by the proposal to release parklands, currently zoned as amenity/open space, for building. Photograph: iStock
The public good would not be served by the proposal to release parklands, currently zoned as amenity/open space, for building. Photograph: iStock
The solution to substandard green spaces is not to pave them over but to upgrade them, including for biodiversity and climate-proofing

It is certainly true that, despite excellent recent work by Dublin city’s parks department, there are still too many substandard green spaces in the city. But the answer here, in almost all cases, is not to pave them over, but to upgrade them, and not just for conventional amenities but also for biodiversity and climate-proofing.

The city urgently needs to extend and deepen its green infrastructure plan. The creation of spatially insignificant ecological corridors, to enable plants and animals to move between them, would greatly assist in this. Residents would benefit from improvements in physical and mental health, and reductions in crime and vandalism. Critical climate-proofing benefits include carbon sequestration and, especially, flood mitigation. Urban green infrastructure can also play a role in averting the collapse of pollinator populations, a growing threat to our agriculture. All these measures bring significant savings for the taxpayer.

The housing crisis will not be solved by undermining natural capital assets, whose vital social and economic importance we are only starting to appreciate. If this were an either/or issue, we would face a nightmare choice. But it is not: alternative solutions can be found through maximum use of industrial waste land, institutional land, and the empty buildings still retained by speculators.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.