Polders and the future of Dublin
Sir, – The idea of using Dutch-style polders to solve the housing crisis could be quickly and inexpensively done in Dublin. All development land from the city down-river to the Point Depot on both sides of the Liffey is now built on. There remains an insatiable demand for city-centre housing and large floor-plate offices.
This can only be satisfied by jumping across East Wall Road into the northern perimeter of the port and reclaiming the unsightly tidal mud flats between the port and Clontarf as a polder. There would be a new sea wall and promenade running north/south from Castle Avenue to the corner of the port. This would have a man-made beach facing east.
A lot of the land to the north of Tolka Quay Road is underused and hiding in plain sight from development. These silo farms will be redundant soon when fuel bunkers move to the airport by pipeline and across the river to Poolbeg.
This would create a whole new city district of 300 acres which when laid out in city blocks would house 75,000 people. It would have its own town centre, parks, squares, pubs and schools. It does not need to be high rise to achieve high density. It is fully owned by the State, thus saving billions.
The Dublin Port Company’s constant media spin is that tonnage is increasing. This is true but so leading as to be meaningless, and it knows this. Modern cargo moves rapidly through the port, and the old “doughnut” port, shaped to allow lay-down cargo over a large area, is in the dustbin of history. All transit sheds are gone. Ports around the world are slimming down to a linear high-efficiency strip on their waterfront. The newly freed-up land is subsumed back into the mother city. We could easily do this, and we should.
If you take this thinking to its conclusion then containers would be landed onto driverless electric trains on dedicated tracks alongside the ship. They would be “laid down” at an inland port at Portlaoise, say, at the nexus of motorways and railways. This central location would halve all truck journeys and save millions of gallons of diesel and carbon per annum. It would also mean no container trucks in the city and massively reduced air pollution.
The biggest bonus by far would be that the city would be given back sight of its bay and the sea. This link was broken with the industrial revolution. Future generations will thank us.
The financial model could include a VAT and stamp duty-free zone. It would have a group tracker mortgage scheme for all buyers. The entire scheme could be “affordable” to everybody and would deliver homes where we want them, beside our work, where we could live without a car. The Luas could move down another station from the Point, to a new terminus.
Each city block would be given to a separate developer and design team who would be allowed a generous profit on transparent pricing.
This may read as radical and futuristic pie in the sky, but it is not. When broken down into its component parts each piece is straightforward business.
If the Government put its power and resources into this, it could happen and happen fast. As it says on my little granddaughter’s T-shirt, Just Do It. – Yours, etc,