Local election candidate for the Social Democrats in the Balbriggan ward Garrett Mullan is calling for the appointment in light of the huge response to the Our Fingal consultation. He said: 'Balbriggan’s population has increased from circa 6,000 to 25,0000 in just twenty years. It has one of the youngest populations in Ireland. Despite this growth and youth, it is not as booming or vibrant as one would expect'.
There are other examples of towns in Ireland which faced similar challenges and were successful in turning things around and they are now great places to live, work, play and visit. There are likely many factors contributing to these success stories and one of them that seems to stand out is the appointment of a Town Architect in places such as Westport and Clonakilty.
We need good planning and planners involved in the development process and why I believe Fingal County Council should recruit a Town Architect for Balbriggan. Given the housing crisis at the moment, there is a strong tendency to allow housing no matter what. If good planning processes are not put in place, we risk the mistakes of the past.
Figures compiled by the Architects’ Council of Europe show that there is one architect for every 2,100 people in Germany, one to 8,000 in France, one to 9,500 in Britain and one to 15,000 in Ireland.
Mullan added: 'We need to invest in planning to create better more sustainable communities and that means recruitment of architects to not only plan for buildings, but plan for communities as well'.
Westport was voted the Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland in 2012. Town architect Simon Wall says: ‘Pedestrianising areas, upgrading footpaths, uniformity of design of buildings to provide continuity and plenty of planting. Tidy up the streetscape by undergrounding 95% of its overhead lines, the judicious restriction of cars in the town centre, a policy of using space over shops for living accommodation’ all help to improve the look of a town.
Applying urban planning utilising skills of an architect will help make the Fingal Council 'Our Balbriggan Plan' a success. Find out more about how this simple change within our local authority could make a big difference to improve our quality of life.