Ireland's master plan for the next 20 years 'has nothing to stop urban sprawl'

The chair of An Bord Pleanála said we need to get cars out of cities.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

THERE IS VERY little detail in a crucial new plan about how Ireland should be developed until the year 2040 to stop urban sprawl outside the capital.

That’s according to the chair of planning body An Bord Pleanála, Mary Kelly, who was discussing the newly-published ‘Ireland 2040 – Our Plan’ proposal.

The draft document is essentially an outline of how the government thinks Ireland should be developed over the next two decades or so.

Kelly, who was speaking at the annual Environment Ireland conference yesterday, was asked if there is anything in the plan that can counteract urban sprawl, an issue in many Irish towns and cities that leads to a range of problems, such as long commuting times.

Kelly said that while there was some projects that could help people get around in Dublin – such as the long-delayed Metro North – she said there was not much in the plan to reduce car dependency in rural Ireland.

The planning body chair admitted she had not read through every detail of the 151-page document, which was published on Wednesday. However, there was nothing in what she saw that would lead to a major shift in how people get around.

“I would think that the investment in public transport, particularly in the Dublin area, is essential,” she said.

“I don’t know if there’s enough in the national planning framework to be honest with you. Do I think there’s anything outside of the capital in it for getting people out of cars? I’m afraid I don’t.”

File Photo New figures from the Central Statistics Office shows that residential property prices on a nationwide basis rose by 1.3% in September. Houses in West Dublin
Source: Eamonn Farrell/

Extremely slow

When new rail lines are being built, organisations have to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission. Kelly said that there are no applications before the planning body to build new rail lines outside of the capital.

“I showed where we’ve looked at (new) rail to date, and it’s all around Dublin. There’s very little anywhere else. There’s a reference to a development in Cork around rail, but other than that I’m not sure there is. It’s a very difficult one.”

She said that even in Dublin, infrastructure development is a very-long and drawn-out process, although there has been some progress with the likes of the Luas Cross City project.

“It’s happening in an extremely slow time frame in the Dublin area. We have to keep cars out of the city centre, and I think little by little we’re doing that.

“Whether there’s enough in the planning framework to really consolidate that and to really move people onto public transport … there is a commitment in it to the Metro North and extending the Dart lines (but) that’s nothing new.

“These things have been there and on the cards for a long time. They need to be delivered, and really quickly.”

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