Renewing and strengthening towns only possible with planned co-ordination and collaboration

“Renewing and strengthening towns only possible with planned co-ordination and collaboration”

-       Engagement with community and stakeholders central to effective development

-       “A vision for the place we live in is only possible with the engagement of the people”

 

A planning led approach underpinned by the dedicated funds available through the Rural and Urban Generation Funds from Project Ireland 2040 is about to spark a surge in the regeneration of smaller towns and villages across the country according to a series of case studies presented this afternoon the 2019 National Planning conference in Carrick on Shannon.

The two funds have made an overall provision of €3bn for regeneration plans with €217m allocated across 172 projects in the first tranche of funding allocated late last year.

The conference heard however that the key to success planning for facilities, infrastructure and a public realm that makes sense for the community that lives there and their needs rather than being led by visions of elsewhere.

Outlining the work done in the regeneration of Limerick’s Georgian neighbourhood, the city’s Chief Architect Rosie Webb said that a three-pronged approach of using its powers to take control of and lead by example in the development and use of public space, provide financial incentive to the private sector to engage and facilitating innovation had driven its success and presents a framework that could be replicated in other centres. Public planners have to provide leadership but “change comes from the bottom up and people bring a lot of value”

Leitrim County Chief Executive  Lar Power outlined how its county town Carrick on Shannon was ‘punching above its weight’. ”Because of the riverbank location there was always a strong offering here but there was a concern for the quality of the public realm which we had to address”. He too highlighted the need for planning to engage with those living in and with a town. “Like many towns we had limited resources so we chose to focus solely on foreseeable outcomes and the people that could enable them. Our experience is that a vision is essential but that the key to delivery is the success of engagement with stakeholders and the community”   

The focus on collaboration was echoed in the experience of the North West City Region, Centred on Letterkenny-Derry-Strabane – the fourth largest Urban Agglomeration on Island of Ireland – where  Donegal County senior planner Eunan Quinn noted  “A vision for the place we live in is only possible with the engagement of the people. Our experience is that their engagement in planning is central to the whole approach”