30 Jan 2007

Regarding the discussion on Part V of the Planning Act in the last Dispatch, I got this from Fine Gael Cllr. Katie Ridge in Kildare

‘Have just had a glance… on your piece on Social and Affordable housing under part V of the PDA 2000-2004. To add insult to injury; the Part V requirements are NOT mandatory for locations that do not require a Local Area Plan i.e. locations with a population of less than 2,000. E.g the townland of Ardclough in my electoral area {North Kildare} is… not zoned land and no Part V compliance arises (despite the fact that it is approx 15 miles from O' Connell Bridge…).
… We need to focus on the spirit of the legislation i.e. the provision of housing units and move away from the now multiple sidestepping that the Act provides for.’

Your first point, Cllr., goes to prove what I was trying to say in the last Dispatch  – I’m sure there are statistics out there which show that the big cities are the only places where young people are paying the Part V tax (lets start calling it that). There are all sorts of ways of getting around it in rural areas.

On your second point, Katie, what is your view of the Minister’s recent announcement that hundreds of houses are to be bought in newly developed ‘private’ estates in the Dublin Area and sold on as affordable units? I haven’t had time to digest it yet.

New Labour

I’ve again provoked Cllr. Dermot Lacey by suggesting that his Labour Party is the conservative rump of Irish politics. To prove otherwise, he sent me a very wide selection indeed of press releases and letters to newspapers he’d put together in recent months. I’m sorry, Dermot, I don’t have the space to reprint all your letters and releases in full. I hope the following synopsis is enough:

Regarding your views on the Dublin Transportation Authority, I have the same misgivings as you about how effective it will be, especially since the Minister for the Environment announced before Christmas that the new authority will not have powers of compulsory purchase for lands within its bailiwick. How’s that going to work?

Regarding your comments on Ulick O’Connor’s piece in the Sunday Independent suggesting that Dublin City needs an elected Mayor with greater powers etc., again, agreed. This is something I’m going to write about soon. 

Regarding your take on the proposed local authority audit committees (for people who don’t know what this is about, I’m going to put something together in the next few weeks), I’m with you 100 per cent.

Regarding RTE, I love your observation that it’s the place where ‘former students' union leaders go to interview other former students' union leaders.’ Very nice. 

In short, Dermot, you’ve convinced me that you’re a genuine radical and a bone fide diehard and you have no argument from me. So, I propose a truce. The truce begins at the end of this sentence. Agreed?

In other news...

Did you hear Labour Leader, Pat Rabbitte, on RTE several times last week trying to sneak under the duvet with Bertie despite years of not having a single good word to say about Fianna Fail? How radical is that?  

Fintan Wonders if the Planning Dispatch is a Complete Waste of Time

I always love it when I see an email from Fintan Duffy…  

‘In light of the latest reports from Brussels that Ireland in general and Dublin in particular have the worst urban sprawl problems in Europe, is this discussion through your website not just a question of closing the regulatory stable door after the planning horse has bolted? In my opinion we have two options after 11 years of incompetent one-party rule against a background of unregulated development; to prepare strategies for the post-urban sprawl Ireland which will include reurbanisation, landscape restoration and recycling of housing estates or emigrate to a normal country without coast-to-coast dormer bungalows.’

Fintan, what oft was said … We’ve made such a total hash of things in the past ten years that, at least in the cities, re-urbanization is the project we’re facing. Development in Dublin since the mid 1990s can be characterized in two ways: 

a) a failure to make the most of opportunities (Dublin’s Docklands) and

b) the application of an ‘anti-urban/buildings-spaced-out-in-parkland’ approach which had already failed everywhere else in the world by the 1950s. For example, have you been to that place outside Dublin they used call Dundrum/Sandyford? I mean, what’s it supposed to be? I swear I’ll never say a bad thing about Los Angeles again. Or what about that weird new part of town that’s kind of near and south of the airport with all the hotels and petrol stations but which doesn’t have a name? Any of you with young children will recognize on the instant that it looks uncannily like the set of Power Rangers Mystic Force…

But this brings me nicely on to my topic for this week. I think that the development of Dublin’s Docklands was such a missed opportunity to get Dublin working that I predict the whole area will be redeveloped in my lifetime. There.  

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