Recovery plan needs ambitious strategy for town and city centres


Sustainable, age-friendly towns and cities the subject of discussion at roundtable of experts including RIAI, Chamber leaders, researchers and local authority officials.

Ahead of a roundtable on sustainable cities and communities, Chambers Ireland yesterday (2oth May 2021) called for an ambitious strategy and collaborative approach to ensure towns and cities are supported in the recovery.

Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “The pandemic has forced us to think differently about how we use space and how we spend our time. This has presented significant challenges for our urban centres which have suffered enormously from the cycles of lockdowns and closures. With outdoor dining on the horizon, and our cities and towns beginning to fill with life again, our members are eager to make the most of what will largely be an outdoor summer.

To do this successfully, we need to adapt our streets and public realm to create more space not just for businesses, but for people of all ages.

In putting people back at the heart of our towns and cities, we must be creative about how we reconfigure space, encourage dwell time, and help people congregate safely. Our local authorities are critical to this conversation. Over the coming days and weeks, many of these authorities will hold public consultations on how we can best use our streets and public spaces.

To drive these conversations, we have compiled a guide to the best examples from towns and cities across Ireland. We urge our members and the wider community to engage with their local representatives and help to build vibrant and sustainable cities and towns. If you want to see positive change, say so, and make sure your voice is heard.”

Looking to the longer term, a strategy for cities and towns must be central to the promised National Recovery Plan and Chambers Ireland calls on Government to prioritise this a part of the National Recovery Plan and NDP Review.

Also speaking yesterday, Chambers Ireland Head of Research, Shane Conneely said, “A Town Centre First Strategy has been promised by Government. For our members, this plan will be integral to the sustainable recovery of local economies throughout the country.

From our perspective, such a strategy needs to be ambitious, properly resourced and matched with a legislative agenda that reforms how we deliver public transport, above-the-shop living, the development of brownfield sites and the repurposing of vacant premises.

For the Town Centre First strategy to be a successful urban living programme, it needs to re-energise our cities and towns and allow them to become attractive places to live, work, and play. That transformation means putting the needs of people first.

Sustainable transport that prioritises walkability will support this shift towards making our streets safer and more inclusive. This will not only help to reduce the climate emissions but is also good for business. People-friendly streets are good for communities and for local economies, and this increased footfall will help bring customers to the door of small business throughout the country.”

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