Renewing The Inner City

 

Sir, - Temple Bar Properties is to be warmly commended for its survey on sustainable tourism and the implications of stag nights. It is at last monitoring what is going on in its fiefdom and co-ordinating an approach to dealing with tourist and resident problems including stag/hen nights, increased drinking space and wayward planning applications.

TBP's late recognition of the need for such an approach provides lessons for other urban rejuvenation areas which are at an earlier stage, especially the HARP area which stretches from O'Connell Street to Collins Barracks on Dublin's north side opposite Temple Bar. HARP is being developed in a very different way, though, unless action is taken immediately, it will be just as unbalanced. Its problems include a predominance of private, non-family, starter apartments (to the detriment of a properly mixed community), no general conservation or architectural strategy, no provision for increased green space and no effective tourism strategy. Unfortunately no mechanism has been provided to monitor these problems and to deal with difficulties as they become manifest.

Part of the difficulty in attracting tourism (as well as improving facilities for residents) for the Corporation's HARP team is that it receives around 1 per cent (250 acres: £12m) of the public investment per acre of Temple Bar (25 acres: £100m). It would have been better for the city if public money had been far more equitably divided. For example, a more sustainable dispersal of tourism investment would have spread the benefits - and disbenefits - of tourism between Temple Bar and HARP. At the moment Dublin Tourism, of course, systematically neglects tourism promotion for most of the north inner city.

In general, An Taisce suggests that urban rejuvenation should always be accompanied by regular monitoring of a number of indicators to see if rejuvenation is working. Indicators should include whether planning applications and permissions represent what was intended in the plan for the area (e.g. are there too many pub applications?), crime, voter-participation and unemployment rates, social mix, pollution levels, conservation performance, local perceptions of quality of life, tourist numbers and so on.

Sustainable development requires attention to social and environmental as well as economic factors - and proper monitoring. - Yours, etc., Michael Smith,

Chairman,

Dublin City Association An Taisce,

Tailors Hall,

Dublin 8.