RGDATA urges creation of National Town Centre Management Strategy
RGDATA director general Tara Buckley has called for a plan on sustainable retail development in Irish towns.
15 April 2016
At the annual Irish Planning Institute conference in Athlone, RGDATA director Tara Buckley has called for the development of a National Town Centre Managament Strategy with a view to arresting the decline of Irish towns and villages in recent years. Buckley’s plan included mandatory “Town Centre Health Checks”, which she cited as part of learning the lessons of the past. Local authorities must step up in order to drive this regeneration, she said, as well as targeted urban regeneration tax schemes.
“We all know that a lot of our ‘ugly planning’ has been driven by people who are not professional planners,” Buckley said. “Local Authorities have a central responsibility to drive new initiatives to regenerate towns. A key step to assist them is the adoption of a National Strategy on Town Centre Management. To do this properly we must start with Town Centre Health Checks.
“To assist in the development of Town Plans,” Buckley continued, “RGDATA and the Heritage Council have devised a draft Town Centre Health Check pilot strategy. Town centre revival will not happen if we do not develop policies that encourage people to live in town centres.”
Buckley’s speech also took aim at the sometimes-controversial proliferation of German multiples around Ireland, which have a habit of dragging customers away from local businesses which rely on local custom to survive. “Out-of-town and edge of town retail development act as a counter-attraction to town centres and suck trade from town centre businesses,” she said. “If these are the models of retailing that Irish people want to support, then they must be aware of the collective societal price in terms of desolate towns and villages.”