The National Development Plan

 

Sir, – A 22-year plan from a Government that probably has 12 months left in office, and which does not have an overall majority. A plan that actually rehashes major chunks of items previously announced or already under way, containing numerous other items that will never see the light of day. A plan to try to give something to everyone in the audience. A plan that the Opposition immediately looks to shred, while making sure to mention “the housing and homeless crises, the health crises, etc”.

In truth, announcing spending sometime in the future, with funds that we don’t actually have, is easy. Spending money that you have to actually generate and spending it well are different matters.

I have a secret to tell. For years I’ve been doing the same thing. My kids have on a number of occasions asked me what would happen if we won the lottery. I’ve told them that we would go on holidays, buy loads of things and I would give them a big chunk of money to spend. This has always been greeted with a big cheer.

Why? Because it’s based on little or nothing, a fiction. Sounds familiar? Hopefully not. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – If, as quoted, Leo Varadkar decrees that any opponent to Government development policy is “obliged to come up with alternatives”, how about starting with an alternative government? – Yours, etc,

CHRISTIAN MORRIS,

Howth,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – Metro North will open swathes of land. I thought the plan is to limit the conurbation of the eastern area of the country. – Yours, etc,

ALEC QUINN,

Limerick.

Sir, – The latest National Development Plan has at its heart the sensible, though unpopular, idea to build up certain cities and towns towards a critical mass whereby those urban areas will be able to provide a sustainable population for services and industry.

One fly in the ointment is the question of land ownership and the price of that land. Obviously, houses and industrial units need land. For land to be developed, it must be rezoned. Under our current land acquisition model, this results in a massive increase in price (I do not say value) in the cost of that land.

But in order for the NDP to work as intended, affordable housing will need to be provided for workers and their families in these towns and cities and industry also needs affordable buildings in order to keep costs down and remain competitive.

Can anyone seriously argue that our present model of land acquisition or our current planning system are serving either social justice or the common good? Rather they are detrimental to developing a decent society (one of the main thrusts of the Constitution) and also drive up costs for industry.

Would it not be better to end the current system of land rezoning and urban development which benefits only a few to the common detriment and causes so much difficulty for so many with excessive prices?

I suggest that it is time we got rid of the current failed rezoning model and developed a new system whereby land around cities, towns and villages can be bought only by the State (ie us) at agricultural prices, plus compensation for loss of farming income.

The planning departments in each county would have to develop sustainable long-term plans for all urban areas, including the provision and location of services like housing, industrial units, schools, shops, medical facilities, etc, in order to allow proper development of those areas. Having drawn up the plans for the major urban areas, the planners can then concentrate more fully on the many one-off houses around the countryside for the people who prefer not to live in villages, towns or cities.

The State (ie us) can then tender for developers to build the housing, industrial units and services as required and in the places they need to be, not where a developer happens to have land, as happens under the present system.

Undoubtedly such a proposal will be met with massive resistance from the vested interests and there would be long drawn-out court cases, but the present systems are not fit for purpose now and definitely won’t be by 2040. – Yours, etc,

DAVID DORAN,

Bagenalstown,

Co Carlow.

Sir, – In the context of the National Planning Framework, we are told that we may expect another one million people to be added to the population by 2040, and according to Simon Coveney, half a million of those will be immigrants. That equates to one in five of the population. When did any political party ask Irish people if this was what it wanted? – Yours, etc,

ÁINE NÍ CHONAILL,

Immigration Control

Platform,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – I had plenty of time this morning to read the national infrastructure plan on the way to work, travelling a distance of 10km on a bus that takes 1.5 hours each way, and realise that my locality is not part of the plan and I face this commute for the foreseeable future. Ignorance was preferable. – Yours, etc,

ANNIE MURPHY,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Isn’t it very interesting that the National Plan to 2040 makes no mention of a united Ireland in its timeframe and what impact it might have on its ultimate shape?

Does this Government know something about our future it has not shared with us? – Yours, etc,

DEREK MacHUGH,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.