NPF recognises Ireland’s future is urban – Gov must back ambition with funding
The Government’s newly published draft National Planning Framework correctly recognises that Ireland’s future is urban – now that appreciation must be backed by ambitious investment in Dublin and Ireland’s other main cities, according to business organisation Dublin Chamber.
Dublin Chamber, which represents companies throughout the Great Dublin Area, commended Government on the production of the draft NPF document, following a robust consultative process.
The Chamber welcomed the recognition in the document of Dublin’s pivotal role in the success of Ireland Inc. This must be copper-fastened in the final document, the Chamber said.
Dublin Chamber CEO Mary Rose Burke said: “The Government has recognised that urbanisation is both positive and inevitable. As a country, Ireland must embrace the benefits that urbanisation offers. Rather than wasting resources by trying to fight an overwhelming global trend, Ireland should focus on getting urbanisation right. Successful management of the urbanisation process means planning for where people will live and work, designing neighbourhoods accordingly, and investing in the required infrastructure ahead of time.”
The draft NPF predicts that Ireland’s population will increase by 1 million between now and 2040 to around 6 million. However, Dublin Chamber is concerned that this is an overly conservative prediction, predicting that Ireland’s population is likely to be closer to 7 million by 2040.
Ms Burke said: “In the past, Ireland has failed to properly prepare for urbanisation. Much of Dublin’s economic expansion and population growth has taken place without adequate planning, and as a result the city region has developed in a rather haphazard fashion. To this end, it is encouraging to see the draft NPF include a commitment to make better use of brownfield sites within the M50. This will increase the potential to deliver higher densities, taller buildings and more sustainable urban communities.”
The draft NPF document recognises the need to address the infrastructure deficit in Dublin which threatens to constrain growth and is impacting negatively on quality of life.
Ms Burke said: “The investment tap has been turned to a trickle over the past decade. This means we’re now playing a game of infrastructure catch-up. It is encouraging to see Government re-state a commitment to making key infrastructure projects happen, such as Metro North, the Dart Expansion Programme – which includes Dart Underground – and a new water source for the Eastern and Midlands Region. Such projects are vital for the long-term success of Dublin and Ireland. Addressing congestion and capacity challenges will also depend on ambitious short-term projects such as BusConnects and improved cycling and walking infrastructure, being implemented. Prioritising these projects is critical to the successful implementation of any 2040 ambitions.”
To remain competitive in the global economy, Ireland requires a modern city of international scale, the Chamber said.
Ms Burke said: “It is important that Dublin’s connectivity to other Irish cities is enhanced, including Belfast. To that end, recognition of the importance – and potential – of the Dublin-Belfast corridor is encouraging. National well-being in the coming decades will depend on the strength of a well-managed and globally competitive Dublin region. The Greater Dublin Area will continue to be the engine of Ireland’s economy in the decades ahead, and all Irish people have an interest in ensuring that it can compete effectively.
“Ireland needs to have big ambitions for its capital city. In an increasingly urban world, Dublin represents our country on the world stage. The draft NPF paves the way for this to happen. We look forward to working further with Minister Eoghan Murphy over the coming weeks to ensure that the final National Planning Framework is one that will ensure Ireland’s potential is maximised between now and 2040 – with a dynamic, competitive and successful Dublin at its core,” said Ms Burke.