A national planning framework

 

Sir, – Further to “Coveney planning expansion of key cities in regions” (December 27th), this “national planning framework” initiative by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney is aimed at real reform of the planning system, and it might be viewed as a fitting finale to the 1916 centenary commemorations. Cherishing all the children of the nation equally means taking the necessary steps to provide them with a sustainable future. At last we have a reforming Minister, one who accepts that patronage politics has done too much damage to the hopes and lives of Irish people.

We are now seeing the justification of appointing our first Minister for Planning. As a founding member of the Irish Planning Institute, four decades ago, I am delighted to see this initiative from the Custom House. The campaign for this fundamental reform of the planning framework began over a decade ago, so it is heartening to see it progress from derision to decision.

The Minister’s evidence-based plan is based on the same reality that gave us the medical centres of excellence. In order to achieve sustainable growth, we have to make realistic choices that will support patient care at the highest level. It is the responsible politicians who admit that every crossroads village cannot have a hospital. To serve a population of almost five million, we must have a well-placed network of hospital care that will deliver the best outcomes with the aid of the latest technology. The same guiding principle must now inform our national development plan.

Mr Coveney’s announcement suggests that lessons have been learned from the catastrophe of the previous national spatial strategy, which the then-minister Phil Hogan candidly rejected for the useless sugar-syrup that it was. That plan was a failure because it promised “one for everybody in the audience”. It was predictable that it could not succeed because it spread the jam too thinly. Mr Coveney has learned from that debacle.

This new scheme accepts that Ireland must adjust its national plan to meet our needs in a quickly changing world. We must scale-up in order to bring settlement size closer to what the infrastructure will bear.

It is now two decades since we agreed that higher housing densities were needed to make public transport viable. The same can be said of other essential elements of the socio-economic infrastructure. I look forward to seeing this plan being implemented. – Yours, etc,

Dr DIARMUID Ó GRÁDA,

Planning Consultant,

Clonskeagh,

Dublin 14.