Opening Address from Ardmhéara/Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Críona Ní Dhálaigh
Regeneration 2015: New Beginnings -the city and economic resilience
Using the existing urban fabric to sustain and facilitate local development
Friday 20th November 2015, St. Laurence, DIT Grangegorman Lower
Speakers, Delegates, Good Afternoon,
It is a pleasure to be here in the new Dublin Institute of Technology home at Grangegorman. I am particularly pleased to welcome Dr. Paul Stouten from the Netherlands; Conor Moloney from London, Justin Doran from Cork, and Alison Harvey from Kilkenny. Thank you for making the journey to be with us today. I also appreciate our speakers from Dublin, but I do want to acknowledge those who have made the longer journeys! Thanks to Dr. Deiric O Bróin and Ciarán Cuffe from the School of Transport Engineering, Environment and Planning in DIT for organising this Conference. Deiric O Bróin is Chairperson of the Institute of Economic Development (Ireland Branch) and Ciaran Cuffe is of course a fellow councillor on Dublin City Council.
For many of you and for many Dubliners Grangegorman has been a blank space on your map. I am pleased that it is now being filled, and I am delighted that the Health Services Executive is continuing to provide a home for long-stay psychiatric clients on the Grangegorman site in state of the art buildings. Those of you working in regeneration know the benefits of mixed uses, and having both health and education uses on the same site is a great idea. They both can learn from each other.
Grangegorman is important and is a worthwhile case study for you all. The Grangegorman Development Agency is a State Agency that prepared a masterplan for new development in the area. Master plans are important. Grangegorman is a Strategic Development Zone, an SDZ just like part of Dublin’s Docklands and Carrickmines. This means that the end users, the developers, and the surrounding community get to see the big picture before development commences. This is a crucial element of the masterplan process. Grangegorman is also using Sustainable Urban Drainage or ‘SuDS.’ This reduces the risk of flooding and replicates the systems we see in nature to deal with high rainfall and improve biodiversity and recreational opportunities.
Grangegorman is a working model of sustainable transportation. The campus is accessible on foot, by bike and by public transport. New pedestrian entrances to the North Circular Road and to Stoneybatter through Fingal Place and the Park Centre on Prussia Street make the campus permeable and accessible. I am told by my colleague Councillor Janice Boylan that children from Drumalee can walk just a few minutes down the road through the new entrance to get to the new playground, where the sound of children’s voices now echo against walls that were once dark and impenetrable. This is regeneration in action. Quality Bus Corridors and to the Luas at Smithfield connect Grangegorman to the city. The Cross City Luas, and the new entrance onto the Phibsborough Road will improve the connections to the wider city, and this is to be welcomed.
DIT Grangegorman welcomes students from all walks of life through the Access programme and reaches out through the Students Learning with Communities Programme to learn from its neighbours. A local employment scheme is providing opportunities for work to those who live nearby.
The Housing Crisis is a major focus for the City Council at this time. A lack of housing construction over recent years, and improved employment prospect in Dublin has led to high demand, high prices and high rents for students and all who wish to live in Dublin.
We need to improve affordability and supply. Dublin City Council is working hard to get some of our major regeneration projects back on track, and I am pleased that in this year’s estimates we have provided funding for development to commence on new housing on North King Street, Infirmary Road and Dominick Street in the North Inner City. We also intend commencing regeneration projects to Dolphin House and St. Teresa’s Gardens in the South Inner City. These are long overdue. Our new Draft Dublin City Development Plan states that all new development will meet Passive House or Equivalent standards. This has an important role to play in reducing fuel poverty and meeting the climate change target under discussion in Paris later this month. This is achievable and deliverable. We are also working with Voluntary Housing Agencies to increase housing output in the city.
Much work has been done by Dublin City Council to address the challenge of empty and vacant sites in the city. The Brownfield Sites Working Group led by Kieran Rose have made proposals for a Vacant Sites Levy, and I am pleased that the Government intends introducing this, though it is not scheduled to commence till 2018. I am pleased that the TURAS Research Team and the Connect the Dots team are here today, as their contribution to identifying vacant sites and potential uses is extremely valuable. I know that my colleague Councillor Ciarán Cuffe is speaking later on and I understand that he will focus on of the Living City Scheme, and the potential of small council-owned sites and I look forward to his contribution.
Ireland has had its first phase of urban regeneration projects, and there are lessons for us all. Dublin’s Docklands, Ballymun and Fatima Mansions show us the successes and failure of regeneration. Belfast and Limerick City have also undergone redevelopment and change. Three lessons can be learnt from these. Firstly regeneration must operate at a community level. If residents are not involved at the heart of the regeneration process, then it will not be successful. Involvement must be meaningful and not tokenistic. Secondly, financial incentives must be carefully targeted. Many of the ghost estates around Ireland received tax incentives that resulted in poorly built, poorly designed and poorly located development. This must not happen again. Closer to home the controversies over Priory Hall and Longboat Quay show that regulations must be enforced. A lot of work lies ahead to resolve these issues. Thirdly design and place-making are crucial elements of the regeneration process. The success of Grand Canal Square in the Docklands and of the Neighbourhood Centres in Ballymun shows us the importance of good design and working with communities to deliver results.
Planning cannot solve all the problems posed by regeneration, but it can help. Proper legislation and regulation is required to give communities a critical role in decision-making. Innovative financing is also required to provide the monies needed to provide the homes that are so desperately needed. Good design is also a crucial element. I wish you well in your discussions this afternoon. I am pleased that our officials are here from Dublin City Council and the Department of the Environment, Communities and Local Government to learn from your knowledge, and I look forward to your presentations assisting the City Council in its work.