The 2014 Spatial Planning Graduate Network Forum


Date: Tuesday 17th June, 3.30pm – 5.30pm

Venue: Bord na Mona, Newbridge, Kildare

Students & unwaged €5 / SPGN members €10 / Non-SPGN members: €20

This event is eligible for 2 IPI CPD credits, certificates provided.

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The 2014 SPGN Forum is being hosted at Bord na Mona Head Offices, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

The Bord na Mona offices are located midway on the eastern side of Newbridge Main Street (between Penney’s and St Conleth’s Park GAA).

The 123 and 126 bus services halt opposite the Bord na Mona entrance and there are regular train services to Newbridge Station. A Further public transport information is available at .

Parking is NOT AVAILABLE at Bord na Mona. Off-street parking is available at the Whitewater Shopping Centre, well signposted entering the town.

Please allow for Schools traffic during mid-afternoon.



The 2014 Spatial Planning Graduate Network Forum deals with the problem of delivering strategic energy infrastructure, particularly renewable energy generation and transmission systems, in the context of community and landscape. Differing perspectives are presented, with the aim of achieving an improved understanding of current problems and potential solutions.

Welcome and IntroductionGabriel D’Arcy, CEO, Bord na MA?na

Panel Chair:Robbie Shortt, Journalist, RTE

Delivering Strategic Energy Infrastructure John Reilly, Head of Wind Energy Development, Bord na MA?na

Sustainable Energy Policy IssuesMatt Kennedy, Low Carbon Technologies Manager, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Energy and the Irish Planning SystemStephen Dowds, Planning Consultant

A Community Perspective on Energy SchemesBrian Maher& Theresa Carter, Laois Environmental Action Forum

The Spatial Planning Graduate Network is a community of planners who have graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology’s M.Sc. in Spatial Planning. The Network provides opportunities for graduates to meet and keep up-to-date on planning practice, issues and developments. It runs CPD sessions and organises Forums on topical areas which need debate. The Network intends, through the forum and its online platform at www.spatialplanning,ie, to facilitate critical discussion of the state of Spatial Planning in Ireland.

Speaker Profiles

Robert Shortt is a journalist with RTE’s Primetime programme. Robert began his career with RTE in 1999 becoming Business Correspondent in 2001. In 2005, he become RTE’s Washington Correspondent covering stories such as Hurricane Katrina and the election of Barack Obama. Since returning to Dublin, he has worked in Prime Time, winning a Smurfit Business Journalist Award in 2012 for ‘The Bailout’ -a documentary on Ireland’s economic collapse. Prior to joining RTE, Robert worked for the BBC. He is a graduate of UCD and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Gabriel D’Arcy was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Bord na MA?na in February 2008. Prior to joining Bord na MA?na, he held a number of senior management positions in the Kerry Group and previously served as a Captain in the Defence Forces. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) from University College Galway, an M.Sc. from University College Dublin and an M.B.A. from Kingston University Business School. He is a member of the Institute of Directors.

Dr. John Reilly is a member of Bord na Mona’s Senior Executive team with specific responsibility for the PowerGen Business Unit. He manages the performance of the existing generation assets within the Group, which includes both thermal and renewable technologies. He is also responsible for the strategic development of the pipeline of projects in the generation portfolio. John has almost 15 years experience in the energy sector and is currently a member of Eurelectric’s Environment and Sustainable Development Policy committee, as well as the EU Budget 2014-20 Task Force and IBEC’s Energy Policy Executive, where he chairs the Climate Change Working Group. He is also on the Board of the National Electricity Association of Ireland (NEAI).

Matt Kennedy is responsible for energy technology and research development in SEAI. Matthew manages the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Programme in SEAI as well as managing the Energy Theme of the EU’s Horizon 2020 in Ireland. Matthew is Vice Chair for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Implementation Agreement on Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (RETD) and is lead EU negotiator for technology transfer under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Matthew has been responsible for government technology strategy for the past 12 years and holds a PhD in Engineering from Trinity College Dublin, Master degrees from NUI Galway and University College Dublin.

Stephen Dowds is a qualified planner who has worked in all aspects of the Irish planning system, including several strategic energy infrastructure schemes. Stephen has worked extensively on planning appeals both as a senior inspector in An Bord PleanA?la and in submitting appeals to the Board. He has worked in legal proceedings and arbitrations. Based in Galway, Stephen runs his own practice with extensive experience of planning authorities, development plans and planning issues in the west.

Brian Maher is a qualified planner in practice in Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Brian is involved with many local community groups including chairman of Abbeyleix Business & Community Action Forum (ABC) and chairman of Abbeyleix Heritage Company as well as the environmental representative on Laois County Council SPC and is proposed by LEAF to the LCDC.

Theresa Carter is coordinator of LEAF the regional Transition Hub and convener of the People’s Energy Charter. Community led development towards a sustainable, low carbon economy and society.

The 2013 Spatial Planning Graduate Network Forum

Housing in Ireland: Past, Present and Future

A forum to mark the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Church Street Housing Collapse

The 2013 Spatial Planning Graduate Network Forum marks 100 years of Irish housing history, a period bookended by the Church Street disaster in September 1913 and the ongoing issue of the condemned Priory Hall scheme.

The 2013 SPGN Forum reflects on both the history of Irish housing and recent policy discussions surrounding building control standards, housing markets and social equity.

4pm – 7pm, Thursday 24th October

DIT Bolton St. (in the a�?Large Kinemaa�?)

Students, unwaged & SPGN members: a��5

Non-SPGN members: a��10

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Download Forum Programme: SPGN 2013 Forum on Housing – FINAL PROGRAMME

SPGN CPD Seminar: Recent Changes to Planning and Environmental Legislation – Impact on Economic Development

The Spatial Planning Graduate Network is pleased to announce as part of the 2013 CPD Seminar Series: –

Recent changes to Planning and Environmental Legislation a�� will they help or hinder industry and job creation?

Deborah Spence (Arthur Cox)
Conor Skehan (DIT)

6.30PM a�� 8.30PM Tuesday 7th May 2013
Room 281 (the a�?Large Kinemaa�?, entrance via Kinga��s Inns St), DIT Bolton Street, Dublin 1

A�The conformity of Irish legislation to the EIA Directive was found wanting in relation to projects involving both a land use consent and a pollution control consent by the European Court of Justice (Case C-50/09). To remedy these elements of the case, legislative amendments have been made to the Planning and Development Act as part of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. This CPD considers the implications of these changes for existing and new industry and if these changes are a barrier to new development.

Attendance fee: –
a��10 for Graduate Network members
a��20 for non- Graduate Network members
a��5 for students / unwaged

All proceeds go towards the running of the SPGN CPD series. Certificates of Attendance will be issued at the seminar registration.

Register for this event at: –


About the speakers

Deborah Spence heads the Environment, Planning & Climate Change Group in Arthur Cox. She specialises in all aspects of waste management liability, corporate and individual regulatory compliance, environmental liability for contaminated sites, M & A environmental issues, all aspects of operational permitting and licensing, environmental impact assessment, appropriate assessment and habitats. Her particular area of interest is in regulatory challenges involving public authorities and private commercial interests, and in defending clients involved in environmental and planning prosecutions.

Conor Skehan is an Architect and chartered Landscape Architect. Conor is Senior Lecturer at the School of Spatial Planning, Dublin Institute of Technology. He has worked both in Ireland and abroad, providing strategic and spatial planning and environmental consultancy to a wide range of public and private clients since 1980, ranging from very large-scale infrastructural and industrial projects to residential and tourism projects.

Can a�?Putting People Firsta�? change the face of Local Government (and Planning) in Ireland?

The Spatial Planning Graduate Network is pleased to announce as part of the 2013 CPD Seminar Series: –

Can a�?Putting People Firsta�? change the face of Local Government (and Planning) in Ireland?


Dr SeA?n A�’RiordA?in

Replies from:

David Oa��Connor, Fingal County Manager


Councillor Andrew Montague

6.30PM a�� 8.30PM Tuesday 12th February 2013
Room 281 (a�?Large Kinemaa�?), DIT Bolton Street, Dublin 1

The action programme, Putting People First, launched in October 2012, outlines government policy for reform and development across the local government system. The reforms put a strong emphasis on accountability as the bedrock of a properly functioning system of local democracy, providing for better engagement with citizens.

Attendance fee: –

a��10 for Graduate Network members

a��20 for non- Graduate Network members

a��5 for students / unwaged

All proceeds go towards the running of the CPD series. Certificates of Attendance will be issued to registrees at the seminar.

Register for this event at: –

About the speakers

Dr. SeA?n A�’RiordA?in is an independent consultant specialising in assisting both public and private clients confronting the many challenges of public policy development at local and national level in Ireland.

Sean previously was Head of the Local Government Unit at the Institute of Public Administration where he was responsible for all IPA training and development initiatives for the local government and local development systems in Ireland and representing Ireland on a number of European Commission Expert Committees.

He became the Managing Partner of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the largest, independent, full service environmental consultancy in the world up until he commenced his Doctoral programme in the NUI, Maynooth in 2004. He is one of Irelands leading experts on local Government.

David Oa��Connor was appointed as County Manager of Fingal County Council in 2006 when he set out to build a communicating and connected organisation to better serve the rapidly growing population and economy of Fingal that forms a vital part of the Dublin City Region. He attributes the progress made to working closely with staff.

David is an architect who worked for nine years in private practice following qualification. He joined the local authority service in 1985 with Dublin Corporation where he worked in housing design and urban renewal, including managing the procurement of the 2nd phase of the Wood Quay offices.

He was appointed County Architect to the newly-formed Fingal County Council in 1995 and served eight years securing new headquarters in Swords to include housing and civic buildings for the authority. Having been appointed to Director of Planning in Fingal he served in this position for three years until he took up his current position.

Andrew Montague, is a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, a councillor on Dublin City Council and is the current chair of Dublin’s City Development Board. Andrew lives in Ballymun and is the Chair of Ballymun Drugs Task Force, Chair of the Social Regeneration Committee of Ballymun Regeneration and a Director of the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership.

Andrew is a strong advocate of a directly elected mayor for Dublin, making the case that a mayor has the potential to encourage significant inward investment in the city and can lead a tourism drive.

Andrew is the councillor that first proposed the Dublinbikes scheme, one of the most successful City Bike schemes in the world and Andrew chairs Dublin City Council’s Transport Committee.

Rights to Dublina��s Public Transport Services up for Grabs

People don’t tend to get excited about transport nearly as much as they get annoyed by it. Generally if transport hits the headlines in Ireland it is about some megaproject proposal, such as Metro North or Dart Underground, and people divide into entrenched camps with conclusive evidence apparently both for and against.A� Now an issue is hitting the desk of Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, that may have implications way more profound for the quality of our transport services than any of the big ticket, multi-billion euro schemes of the recent past.A� And yet there is barely a whisper abroad about it.

One of the first significant actions by the National Transport Authority (NTA) was to issue Dublin Bus and Bus A�ireann with five year contracts to run their existing services.A� In 2014 these a�?direct awarda�? contracts will run out.A� To comply with tendering procedures and to allow a potential new operator or operators time to enter the market, the new contracts must be issued for tender at latest by October of this year.A� Information about the Public Service Contracts is available at the NTA website (

It may come as a surprise to many Dubliners that the dominance of Dublin Bus in delivering services to the capital is up for consideration.A� It is the clear workhorse of the transport market shifting 120 million people per annum on over 120 routes.A� That is half of all public transport trips nationally and five times what the much-hyped LUAS carries.

In benchmarking tests undertaken, Dublin Bus has performed consistently well, often earning grudging respect from consultants hired in to investigate what could be done better or where the big savings could be made.A�A� Its level of subvention is considered low and levels of service high in comparison to other European cities.A� Recently, the city has seen Real Time Passenger Information appear on the streets and, with smart-phone apps at the ready, citizens can time their journey to the bus from their armchair or office desk, something that cannot be said for the streamlined LUAS.A� Moreover, the roll-out of LEAP card integrated tickets to all Dublin Bus services went smoothly, with more functionality yet to be added.A� So why fix something that appears to be not only working fairly well but generally improving?

The NTA is complying with EU directives in their actions and the thinking at the European level is that a�?controlled competitiona�? is what is required to best deliver transport services to urban markets (the idea being that operators should have the opportunity to compete for the market as opposed to within the market).A� In the UK the Thatcher administration introduced the a�?1985 Transport Acta�? in the belief that open, unfettered competition and private ownership would lead to bus services magically transformed. Instead service quality plummeted, as did patronage, and the scars of that big idea were such that practically no other city or country has ventured near.A� Only London, which retained its route franchising model, escaped the inexorable deterioration in Englanda��s bus services.

One of the fallacies in this kind of debate is the idea that a�?privatisationa�?, as an end in itself, will invisibly and inevitably stir improvement in the market.A� In reality, there is no wholly private- or wholly public-transport market anywhere in the world.A� Even the most centralised transport systems will outsource some services.A� Berlina��s Transport Authority boasts about having over 40 a�?partnersa�?, some of which are publicly owned, othera��s privately owned.A� Berliners dona��t care about this.A� What matters to the traveller in Berlin is that they buy one ticket from one Authority which can take them anywhere within an excellently planned network.A� The critical element, it seems, is network regulation and the German cities, in particular, excel at this.

Urban public transport costs money.A� But it is indispensible for bringing workers to work, providing universal social mobility and ensuring a clean, healthy environment.A� Very few cities, save the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore, get away without substantial subventions.A� Nirvana in this regard is perhaps Freiburg which recovers 90% of its costs from the fare box.A� But the point about Freiburg is that its network is so well planned that virtually everybody has access to quality services.A� And nearly 7 out of every 10 trips is by public transport.A� Critically, Freiburga��s transport system, like Berlina��s and many other German cities, is highly accountable, being governed in a structured way by elected representatives.

So it is certainly no harm asking the question should Dublin Bus and Bus A�ireann retain rights to operate their services.A� If they prove good enough one hopes they should win them back.A� But a bigger question is how do we plan a network that can provide quality access to all Dublina��s citizens.A� In Freiburga��s experience, the better the network the bigger the savings.A� And without improvements in network design, there are really not that many ways in which a new operator can trump an incumbent.

David Oa��Connor is Chairperson of the Spatial Planning Graduate Network and lectures in Transport and Urban Design at DIT Environment and Planning

The Myth of Self-certification of Buildings

Paul Hogan

It is untrue to say that our local authorities have a system of self-certification of buildings in Ireland. The reality is there is no mandatory requirement for the issuing of certificates of compliance with Building Regulations.A� In most cases the opinions of compliance with Building Regulations are only issued on request of lending institutions in the conveyance of a property.A� The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland and the Law Society have an agreed standard format for the issuing of a�?Architects Opinion on Compliance of an Apartment Dwelling with Building Regulationsa�� where a�?Periodic Inspection of the Work under construction did not form part of the Servicea��.A� This permits a situation where a developer once granted planning permission need not employ anyone to provide supervision or periodic inspections until the dwelling unit is ready for conveyancing and at this stage a professional can be employed to provide a visual inspection at completion. Unfortunately, this option is adopted only too often by the developer as a means of compliance with the Building Regulations. While the professional very often seeks confirmations from the developer that the building is constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations the reality is that some developers during the Celtic Tiger would not have sufficient knowledge of the Building Regulations to provide such confirmations but do so regardless.

It is this situation that leads to situations like Priory Hall. This is not the fault of Dublin City Council but rather a fault of the legislation which permits the construction of developments without a mandatory requirement for periodic inspection by professionals and the issuing of Certificates of Compliance on completion.

In Britain it is standard practice that the Building Control Authority issue a Completion or Final Certificate upon the practical completion of each building project, to state the work meets technical requirements of Building Regulations.

In the States a Certificate of Occupancy officially verifies a building is in full compliance with current building codes, and is safe for occupancy.

Since the introduction of Building Regulations under the Building Control Act of 1990 there is a statutory obligation to comply with the Building Regulations in relation to the construction of a habitable building or the material alteration of an existing building. The Building Regulations set out performance standards for developments which include structure, fire safety, energy conservation, ventilation and access for people with disabilities. Under the Building Control Act there is a requirement for proposed developments to be in receipt of a Fire Safety Certificate for apartments or commercial developments prior to commencement on site. There is also a legal requirement for a Commencement Notice to be issued for proposed developments between 14 and 28 days prior to commencement on site. After this is completed the Building Control Regulations are silent with regard to ensuring compliance with regulations. In reality the local authority with limited resources monitored developments by way of spot checks by Building Control Officers. In general the local authorities in the larger urban areas fared better as they had inspectors in place since the introduction of Bye-law approval as early as the Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878. The other local authorities outside the urban areas had neither sufficient staff numbers nor expertise to deal with the pace of development in the Celtic Tiger era. So while the Building Control Authorities had a right to enter buildings to check for compliance the reality was that most sites were not entered at construction stage.

A change of legislation is required to ensure that every development which takes place is legally required to undergo periodic inspection at the pertinent stages of the development to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations prior to occupation. If this is to be carried out by way of certification by a professional employed by the developer, then legislation should also ensure that the professional carries professional indemnity insurance commensurate with the work which is being carried out. Alternatively, periodic inspection could be carried out by the local authority, following notification, at the various states of development and at a cost to the developer to ensure compliance.

So what do we have in Ireland? We have a Building Control Act since 1990 which provided for the enactment of the Building Regulations on the 1st June 1992 at a national level. The Building Regulations 1997 superseded these on 1st July 1998 and provide for compliance with codes which are divided under 12 parts: A a�� Structure; B – Fire Safety; C – Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture; D a�� Materials; E – A�Sound; F a�� Ventilation; G a�� Hygiene; H a�� Drainage; J a�� Heat; K a�� Stairs; Ramps and Ladders; L a�� Fuel; M – A�Disability. Specific amendments have been made to these codes between 1997 and today. Our Technical Guidance Documents provide detailed requirements for compliance with the Building Regulations. Compliance with the Technical Guidance Documents is prima facie evidence that the Building Regulations have been complied with. The Building Control Authority has the power to serve an enforcement notice on the owner or person carrying out the works if they are of the opinion they do not comply with Building Regulations. The Building Control Authority also has the power to enter the works and carry out any action required by the notice and recover the costs.

The introduction of mandatory periodic inspection and Certificates of Completion would help prevent the re-occurrence of situations like Priory Hall. Surely in these cases the prevention is better than the cure where the cure involved the displacement of 240 residents from their homes this Christmas.


Paul Hogan Dip. Arch., B.Arch. Sc., M.R.I.A.I. Dip Physical Planning, M.Sc. Spatial Planning

087 2839565



The Spatial Planning Graduate Network held its 3rd Planners Forum, a panel discussion on the topic a�?Future Dublin a�� A vision for a Healthy and Mobile Citya�� at the Mansion House, Dawsona��s Street on the afternoon of Friday, 2ndMarch 2012.

(l to r) Arlene Finn, Owen Shinkwin, Brendan Finn, Lord Mayor Andrew Montague, David O'Connor, John O'Hara, Ciaran Cuffe

The guest speakers were Cllr Andrew Montague (Lord Mayor of Dublin), Brendan Finn (Independent Transport Consultant), John Oa��Hara (Deputy City Planner for Dublin City Council), Owen Shinkwin (Senior Planner in the National Transporta��s Integrated Planning Section) and Arlene Finn (Programme/Coordinator Smarter Travel Workplaces Programme). An informal debate with the Spatial Planning Graduate Network and guests took place following the formal presentation from each of the guest speakers.

The SPGN Future Dublin Forum at the Mansion House Oak Room

David Oa��Connor, Chairperson of the SPGN, and lecturer in Transport Planning and Urban Design in Dublin Institute of Technology welcomed the guest speakers and the Graduate Network and gave a brief outline of improvements in Dublina��s mobility options over the past few years and his aspirations for Dublin to become a city that is healthier to live in and easier to get around, for everyone.A� The city-region is truly at a vital turning point and has important investment decisions to make about transport and mobility.A� The right decisions will lead to a healthier and more mobile city for all.A� These may not even be the most expensive solutions, nor take longest to deliver.A� The Forum panellists were invited because they each represented or wanted to talk about a transport idea that will inevitably be important for the future. Former Minister of State for Sustainable Transport and Planning, Ciaran Cuffe who is a lecturer in Urban Design at Dublin Institute of Technology, acted as moderator for the event.

Watch the introduction by David O’Connor and Ciaran Cuffe (video)


Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague opened the discussion by first welcoming the audience to his home in the Mansion House. He spoke of the mobility achievements in the city over the past few years, which included Dublin Bikes Scheme, the appointment of Dublin City Councila��s first Cycling Officer, the introduction of 30km city centre speed limit, the taxsaver cycle scheme for employees and the 70% reduction in road traffic fatalities since 2009. The Dublin Bikes scheme, despite initial resistance, has been successful far beyond forecasted levels. Since the scheme was launch in 2009, there have been over 4 million bike trips taken on the 550 bikes in operation to date. Due the schemea��s incredible success, plans are now in place to extend it over the next 5 years to over 5,000 bikes. Cycling is now the fastest growing form of transport in Dublin. Since 2004, cycling has steadily increased year on year with participation doubling in the last 7 years. The number of cyclists in Dublin now exceeds the number of Luas users on a daily basis. Unlike Amsterdam, where cycling is segregated from motorised traffic, Dublin still has much work to do to make cycling safer and more attractive to all. The Mayor emphasised that a lack of funding shouldna��t be a barrier to successful mobility schemes and we should be inspired by the success of the Dublin Bikes scheme. He closed with some food for thought: people who cycle have 10 extra healthy years of life.

Watch the keynote address by Lord Mayor Andrew Montague (video)


Brendan Finn is an independent transport consultant and leading expert in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). In his presentation he argued that high quality buses are a viable alternative to rail and tram as a means of moving large numbers of people throughout a city. His studies of other cities throughout the world show that BRT is an efficient and reliable urban transport solution. BRT is also more flexible than rail and tram in terms of opportunity for a greater number of routes, stops and speeds. He stated that too often buses are dismissed before they even reach feasibility study stage. This is a mistake based on incorrect assumptions about buses. One of these assumptions is that car-users will not convert to bus use. He demonstrated with examples of BRTa��s in other cities such as Istanbul and Mexico City that car users will become bus users when buses are of high quality and provide speed, reliability and comfort. Dublin urgently needs an urban orbital transit route and he urged planners to consider BRT, which is a low cost, flexible option that could be rolled out quickly and incrementally.

Watch Brendan Finn talk about Bus Rapid Transit and its potential for Dublin(video)

View Brendan Finn’s presentation (PDF): Future Dublin Brendan Finn


John Oa��Hara, Deputy City Planner for Dublin City Council (DCC), introduced us to Dublina��s Future Green Network. This is DCCa��s contribution to making Dublin a safer and healthier place to live in The plan is to introduce green corridors throughout the city over a 20 years period. These green corridors will make the city more attractive for people to cycle and walk on a daily basis. The first stage of the Network has already commenced with the completion of a green corridor along the Grand Canal from Grand Canal Square to Portobello, which has an off-road cycle track and a pedestrian walkway, segregated from motorised traffic. Mr Oa��Hara showed the startling link between obesity and travel modes. In countries such as the USA where obesity is prevalent, cycling and walking are the least favoured modes of transport unlike Switzerland where the opposite is the case. Ireland was second only to the USA in terms of obesity and the need to promote healthier travel options, particularly for those who commute less than 5km a day, was emphasised. He also stressed the need for inter agency cooperation.

Watch John O’Hara talk about the City Development Plan and the Green Infrastructure Network (video)

View John O’Hara’s presentation (PDF) *: Future Dublin John O’Hara


Owen Shinkwin, Senior Planner in the National Transport Authority’s Integrated Planning Section explained the NTAa��s role in providing transport integration in the Greater Dublin Area and outlined the Draft Transport Strategy, 2030 Vision. The NTA was established in 2009 and has responsibly for public transport services, capital investment and traffic management policy in the Greater Dublin Area as well as nationally. Mr. Shinkwin gave a comprehensive overview of 2030 Vision, which is a 20-year plan for the Greater Dublin Area. It aims to provide joined up transport and land-use planning, better and easier-to-use public transport and enhanced walking and cycling environments.

Watch Owen Shinkwin talk about the new role of the NTA in integrating land use and transport planning (video)

View Owen Shinkwin’s presentation (PDF):A�Future Dublin Owen Shinkwin


The final guest was Arlene Finn, Programme Developer and Coordinator of the Smarter Travel Workplaces Programme who has responsibility for implementing Workplace Travel Plans (WTP) for large employers (250+ staff) in Ireland.A� She said that businesses would not participate in the programme if it did not make good business sense, whether it be for parking management issues, planning permission requirements, cost savings, or environmental management. WTP are a package of measures to encourage people to walk, cycle, use public transport, car share or reduce trips through a�?Smarter Workinga��. When implemented by a company, results have shown WTPs can reduce car use by 10% – 24%.A� By simply making staff aware of alternative travel options such as bus routes, car pooling, walking times and the health benefits, they will change their travel behaviour.

Watch Arlene Finn talking about the Smarter Travel Workplaces Programme (video)

View Arlene Finn’s presentation (PDF):A�Future Dublin Arlene Finn


The panel (l to r): Ciaran Cuffe, Owen Shinkwin, Arlene Finn, John Oa��Hara (missing from picture: Brendan Finn)

Following presentations from the guest speakers, the floor was opened up for questions and a lively informal debate took place.A� Topics raised included the need for more cycling officers, bike safety training, the need to address public transport deficiencies in poorer areas such as Blanchardstown and how Local Transport Plans would be integrated into Local Area Plans.


View more photographs from the event here

The Spatial Planning Graduate Network owe their sincere thanks to the following individuals and organisations: Norton UDP for sponsorship of the event. A�Documentary Director Paddy Cahill ( videoed the event. A�BSc graduates Colin Broderick ( and Grace Howell assisted with photography and note-taking respectively.

* National Cycle Network Map courtesy of FA?ilte Ireland

SPGN Forum 2012 – Future Dublin: A Vision for a Healthy and Mobile City

Dublin is ranked as the 26th best city in the world for quality of life according to one survey. However, the top ten ranked cities are all mid-sized cities like Dublin. To make it into the top of the list, Dublin has to become a city that is healthy to live in and easy to get around … for everyone. That means developing a transport network that is affordable, easy to use and helps people go wherever they need to go. It also means neighbourhoods that are safe and attractive for cyclists, pedestrians and local communities. Recent capital expenditure cut-backs are forcing a rethink of our approach to transport and infrastructural solutions. But lessons from other places suggest that the best cities are not necessarily ones that spend the most money, but make the smartest choices. Future Dublin is about imagining what kind of transport network that might be and what those streets and spaces might look and feel like. It is a vision for a healthy and mobile city.

On the afternoon of Friday, 2nd March 2012 at The Mansion House, Dublin, the Spatial Planning Graduate Network will hold its third Planners Forum, a panel discussion on the subject of ‘Future Dublin: A Vision for a Healthy and Mobile City’. Confirmed speakers include Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, Brendan Finn (ETTS) and John O’Hara (Dublin City Council Deputy City Planner). The programme for the event is available for download here. Places are limited and will be awarded on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP with your name and the names of the guests you wish to bring to by Tuesday, 28th February 2012.

Briefing on Retail

By David O’Connor

The New Year is well in and maybe its a good time to gather thoughts and reflect on the state of retail, a sector that seems to pass through its own pain barrier around this time of year. This time, even more than last year, has been a portentous one with prophets of doom predicting tectonic changes in the sector. Whether or not this will be the case, there is a lot happening in terms of the planning of the industry as well as its underlying market dynamics.

The sense that retail is in crisis is hard to avoid, given levels of vacancy, issues with rents, rates and other costs, growth in e-shopping (and now shopping, on your smartphone, that is) and the shortage of discretionary income among consumers. Much of the media discussion has surrounded prospects for retailers. In the UK and beyond, debate has revolved around the viability of not just shops but whole town centres.

This piece represents something of a briefing pack on recent and current reports to do with retail. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or fully comprehensive outline of currents in retail planning sector.

What follows are a number of reports, articles, submissions and opinion pieces on retail both in Ireland, the UK and globally. Particularly of note are the publication of draft Retail Planning Guidelines and also the Portas Report in the UK.


Draft Retail Planning Guidelines

The Draft Retail Planning Guidelines were closed for public consultation on 20th December 2011. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the draft guidelines was the straighforwardness of the Minister in declaring that this was a review foisted on us by the IMF / ECB / EU Troika. The Department replied with an incremental approach to modifying the retail cap (3,500sqm. raised to 4,000sqm. in the Greater Dublin Area; removal of the distinction between discount retail foodstores and conventional retail foodstores, etc.). This moderate approach has, apparently been accepted by the Troika. In addition, the guidelines increase emphasis on the sequential approach and encouraging town centre retail development.,28537,en.htm


The Forfas Report

A precursor to the review is the Forfas “Review of the Economic Impact of the Retail Cap”, published in April 2011. One of the conditions of the EU-IMF Programme for Financial Support for Ireland was that the government will conduct a study on the economic impact of eliminating the cap on the size of retail premises with a view to enhancing competition and lowering prices for consumers and discuss implementation of its policy implications with the Commission services.

The report emphasises the important societal effects of retail policy and the need for careful regulation of a complex market.

Among other things, the study revealed the dominance in our grocery retail sector of three brands – Tesco, Dunnes and Supervalue – who control more than 70% of sales between them. Or is it even more than this?,8585,en.php


Submissions to the Draft Retail Planning Guidelines

The IPI made a submission to the draft guidelines, singling out some important details regarding definitions and seeking increased emphasis on enforcement of the sequential approach.

The IPI also call for a Good Practice Guide, suggesting that implementation of existing guidelines has been poor, mainly due to a lack of understanding of practitioners. All of which seems eminently sensible.


An Taisce made a submission which related the draft guidelines to the Smarter Travel Policy document. In particular they urge that fair car parking pricing strategies be applied to out-of-town centres. The submission, drafted by a DIT Spatial Planning graduate, is excellently referenced and draws on international studies on retail policy impacts. Some of its conclusions are listed below: –

  • The Government’s own research shows that large out-of-town retailers are growing and smaller shops in town centre locations are dying. Fact: the independent retail sector shrunk 50% between 2001 and 2006 while retailers that control their own brands, delivery systems and product research have grown by 62% over the same five year period.
  • Locally based shops return twice as much money to the local economy as out-of-town retailers. Fact: locally-based shops return one-third of their revenues to the local economy but large out-of-town retailers only return 16% of revenue back into the local economy.
  • Research from the UK warns: the ability to build stores outside towns has been made possible by a combination of confused and poorly applied planning rules, the power of developers, and weakness of local councils. Unless we see urgent action our high streets will be lost to a final wave of out-of-town retail construction that threatens to remove retail from the heart of our communities.
  • When residents redirect their spending from out-of-town retailers to locally owned businesses additional jobs are created and economic activity in the area increases. Fact: A Michigan study shows 1,600 additional jobs and $140 million uplift in economic activity occurs.
  • Locally owned businesses employ more staff and pay better. Employees in superstores earn 20% less according to Wal-Mart data. Indeed, opening a single Wal-Mart store lowers the average retail wage in the surrounding county by between 0.5 and 0.9 percent.
  • 1.4 jobs are lost for every 1 new job created in a ‘megastore’. Because of their failure to engage with local suppliers and re-circulate money back into local economies, each new out-of-town ‘megastore’ results in a net jobs loss of 270 full-time positions. (submission document available on request from an Taisce)


Commentaries on the Retail Planning Sector in Ireland

Retail’s Ticking Clock?, Sunday Times, 1st January, 2012

Good commentary on changes in the Irish retail sector, focussing on prospects for the oldest of them all – Clery’s Department Store, suggests a curates egg of an industry. Strong brands such as Avoca, Brown Thomas and the Dundrum Town Centre are performing well with many recently built centres dying on their feet and bringing existing town centres with them. Some strong words for the state of planning in the sector.


High Noon on High Street, Irish Times, Friday January 13, 2012

Laura Slattery in Business Agenda asks if the recent la Senza closure and confrontation is a sign of things to come.


IPI Planning Issues Editorial

The Editorial of this month’s Planning Issues, the e-bulletin of the IPI, singles out the topic of retail for its importance. Right now, more than ever, there is a coincidence of need and opportunity for reform and it must be through good retail planning.


Uptown Downtown series

In April 2011, Carl O’Brien released a three-part series called Uptown Downtown. In it he profiled three towns, Youghal, Drogheda and Longford, which, for different reasons seemed to be in a spiral of decline. The series provoked the question, is there anything that can be done to save the Irish market town – iconic and archetypal to so many of us – from disaster. Worth it alone for the comments added by readers.

Youghal: How do you fix a broken town?


Drogheda: On paper, the town has it all


Longford: After the factory shuts its doors


The View from O’Connell Street

Another three part series, just published, on the O’Connell Streets of Ireland, by Rosita Boland

Dungarvan: not thriving, but surviving

Ennis: has nightlife died in Irish towns?

Sligo: It used to be wonderful, now it’s a jungle


The UK

A wider debate is going on in the UK, with loud claims that the large retailers are strangling the life out of the British town and, indeed, way of life.


The Portas Report

Much of this is prompted by the publication by the UK Government of the Portas Report. Town centres in the UK have lost 27 million sq ft or 9% in just nine years. In contrast, out of town retail space has risen by 50 million sq ft, or one-third, over the same period. Shops are closing down at a rate of 5,000 a year and as many as one in six premises lie empty. Portas argues that much can be done if one accepts a few golden rules. One, that not everywhere can be saved, and, secondly, the future cannot just be about shopping.


The New Economic’s Foundation welcomes the Portas Review. They also call for increased controls on oligopolistic practices, better urban design in town centres and better financial systems, including micro-finance.


These sentiments are well expressed in a number of recent articles which lament the loss of the social role played by the local shop.


Supermarkets kill free markets as well as our communities, Peter Wilby in the Guardian, 3rd May 2011


Window pains, By Edwin Heathcote in the Financial Times, 2nd November 2011


Saving the British high street from decades of decline, Mark Hennessy’s London Letter to the Irish Times, 14th December 2011


Commentaries on the Retail Planning Sector globally

Perhaps most surprisingly, while all this is going on, a revival of town centres is taking place in the US. Some of this is being driven by market dynamics, some of it by better planning practices (the New Urbanist movement is a strong force in American cities).


The Death of the Fringe Suburb, by Christopher B. Leinberger in the New York Times, 25th Novbember 2011


Keep it Local Eugene, a forum for discussing the benefits of local businesses and thr impact of chain and big box stores.


Birth, Death and Shopping – the rise and fall of the shopping mall, in the Economist Christmas Special Edition, 2007. A favourite of mine, this article suggests that in the capital of consumerism America the shopping mall is dead and walkable, open and sustainable ‘smart growth’ town centres are the way to go.

Do we need any more proof?

David O’Connor is a practitioner in Transport and Urban Design and is current Chairperson of the Spatial Planning Graduate Network.