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By Chamber Press Office, 09 November 2017
Any attempts to constrain the growth of Dublin will put jobs and investment in all regions at risk, according to business group Dublin Chamber.
Dublin Chamber issued the warning in a new report produced in response to Ireland 2040, the draft National Planning Framework.
In the report, submitted to Government ahead of Friday's deadline, Dublin Chamber welcomed the aims and broad ambitions of the draft National Planning Framework.
However, the Chamber has urged Government to resist overtures aimed at increasing the already ambitious targets it has earmarked for Ireland's regional cities and towns.
The draft NPF plan is targeting over 50% population growth in each of Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway - compared to just 23% for Dublin. Dublin Chamber said the targets for the four regional cities and their suburbs are already "enormously ambitious".
According to Dublin Chamber CEO Mary Rose Burke: "The draft NPF strikes a good balance between expanding the national economy and promoting regional development. Any constraints on growth in Dublin will lead to a decline in national economic output and job losses across all regions. The role of the NPF must be to encourage wealth and job creation, through a combination of attracting further Foreign Direct Investment and by encouraging the growth and development of indigenous businesses.”
The draft NPF sets much stronger growth targets for both housing and population in the regions versus Dublin. By 2040, the draft plan estimates a 31% increase in housing units while estimates for Cork (72%), Limerick (67%), Waterford (66%) and Galway (71%) are all significantly higher.
Ms Burke said: “Since the draft NPF was published, some alarmist commentators have claimed that the plan will hurt towns with less than 10,000 people. Those myths need to be put to bed. The plan includes very ambitious targets for all regions. Any attempt to further increase targets will pose a serious risk to Ireland Inc.”
Dublin Chamber argues in the report that the over-arching aim of the final National Planning Framework must be to link population growth with infrastructure investment.
Ms Burke said: "Put simply, we need to better plan for where people are going to live and how they will get around. Ireland's track record in this regard is poor. One of the core objectives of the NPF must be to put in place limits on sprawl around our large urban centres. A focus on increased density within existing urban centres, including the development of brown field sites, will be key to preventing sprawl. Well-planned urbanisation based on high density offers the only answer to the looming threats of chronic transport congestion and the increasingly difficult environmental questions that will be asked of Ireland in the coming years."
Create New Infrastructure Development Authority
A focus on increased city living must also be matched by step-change in infrastructure investment, including the building of some keystone infrastructure projects such as Metro North and Dart Underground.
Dublin Chamber's NPF submission calls for the establishment of a new National Infrastructure Development Authority to bring greater national coherence to infrastructure planning and to ensure coordination across regional authorities, government departments and sectoral areas.
Ms Burke said: "The creation of a National Infrastructure Development Authority is needed to ensure that Capital Plans adhere to the vision set out by the NPF. Such a body would be tasked with co-ordinating and monitoring the activities of all bodies, including Government departments, the National Transport Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Irish Water and other state bodies."
The Chamber's submission pours cold water on the idea of directly elected mayors for each of Dublin's four local authorities.
Rather, the Chamber submission calls for the creation of a new executive structure which would see that the Greater Dublin Area operates as one city region.
Ms Burke said: "There is a need for increased co-ordination between Dublin's four local authorities. If Ireland is to stay competitive in an increasingly urban world, it needs a long-term holistic plan that integrates the entire capital region, not four different personalities with conflicting agendas. A lack of joined-up thinking has led to many of the problems we see in Dublin today. This must be addressed if Dublin’s huge potential is to be realised."