A RECENT report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has shown that current policies are not favouring economic growth outside of Dublin and the Mid-East regions, and identifies the need to rebalance this by encouraging regional development led by a small number of large urban centres outside of Dublin.
The report maintains that, if the current pattern of growth continues, it will lead to a further gap in prosperity between Dublin and the rest of the country. In Dublin, population and jobs growth will lead to additional housing demand and increased long-distance commuting for those who cannot afford property or rents in the capital.
It is obvious that the over-concentration on Dublin and Mid-East region has led to problems, with 40% of the population residing in this part of the country, putting pressure on infrastructure and impacting on the lifestyles of people living and working there. Breaking point has been reached and it is patently obvious that there needs to be a positive bias towards the parts of the rest of the country that have lost out.
The ESRI’s suggested solution to this is to develop second-tier cities key in order to create sustainable economic growth. To back it up, they provide projections for regions and counties across Ireland up to the year 2040, examining what will happen if current spatial planning patterns continue, and what would happen in a range of alternative scenarios.
These projections set the context for regional and local development policy, including the forthcoming National Planning Framework (NPF) and the Regional Spatial and Economic strategies. The most important thing that must be ensured is that the next phase of growth across the rest of the country is balanced and that all areas get to benefit from it – not just the cities and their immediate hinterlands.