Planning And Development


Sir, - There is much to agree with in Frank McDonald's article, "We're on the road to nowhere" (Weekend, July 14th). However, viewed from a rural perspective, there would appear to be a strange agenda at work.

Clearly the main infrastructural problem articulated by this article is that Dublin is rapidly sprawling across Leinster, with the consequent mistakes of bad planning and design which will condemn future generations to a living hell. Mr McDonald laments the fact that the "National Spatial Strategy" aimed at regenerating rural Ireland "is being cobbled together in the Custom House, without an ounce of political good will to implement it."

Implement what? Does anyone really know what the National Spatial Strategy pur ports to achieve? Is it designed to solve the Dublin problem and redistribute it to the rural hinterland, or is it going to tackle social and economic issues affecting rural Ireland? The latter is extremely doubtful.

He rightly highlights the particular dream of people to have their own house and garden, rather than high-density housing. He points with derision at the type of development symbolised by Rochsfordbridge, now widespread across the country.

However, in common with many environmentalists he is weak on alternatives. Vague mentions of supposedly successful models in Denmark highlighted at conferences for the Θlite, or unconvincing assurances that high-density housing need not be like Ballymun are extremely unlikely to dislodge the house-and-garden dream.

He is also wrong in proposing that politicians should make "hard decisions" - in other words, impose on people concepts that they do not want. People, as the last referendum proved, are not as docile as they used to be.

As I said, there is much to agree with in Frank McDonald's article, but if people are to change what is now an ingrained culture, then he along with many others will need to explain - or, dare I say, sell - real, affordable alternatives from a level lower than arrogance. - Yours, etc.,

Seamus Boland, National Co-ordinator, Irish Rural Link, Eyre Square, Galway.