Planners must look to build up, says expert

PLANNERS and policy makers must become more open to high-rise developments if we are to deliver a sustainable transport network and make urban living sustainable, the Irish Institute of Chartered Surveyors was told yesterday.

Institute president Felix McKenna said planning, land use and transportation policy must become more integrated and that means putting a definitive end to urban sprawl.

Mr McKenna said that if apartments are to be bigger and more eco-friendly, as planned by Environment Minister John Gormley’s regulations, developers will be sanctioned to build higher-density projects.

“It is estimated that adherence to the guidelines could add as much as 20% to the cost of an average apartment or town house,” he told the institute’s annual conference in Dublin yesterday.

“But by applying the current development plan site densities, the guidelines are likely to reduce the number of units permissible on a site by as much as 15%.”

In the unsettled housing market, this increased cost to developers can not be reflected in increased selling prices, he said, and so the medium-term effect could be an unexpected reduction in the number of apartments or townhouses completed in the city.

“Is this what we desire, as we seek to justify massive investment in public transport?

“Increased development densities are vital, otherwise the economics of residential development in city areas simply will not work.”

He also called for a more speedy delivery of public transport projects as our economic competitiveness and the delivery of sustainable communities depended on it.

According to the latest Global Competitive Index, Ireland has the 22nd most competitive economy in the world but our infrastructure ranks 49th in the world, with road infrastructure ranked 60th.

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