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Irish cities could discourage investors

Thursday, June 19 14:45:06

Ireland's ability to attract and retain international investment is at risk unless attention is paid to ensuring that Irish cities "work", according to representatives of those working in the property and construction sector.

The warning came from Property Industry Ireland, which represents businesses working in the Irish property and construction sector, and cited a "complex and disjointed planning system" as part of the problem. "The last census showed that the urban population has increased by 10.6 per cent while the rural population only grew by 4.6 per cent since 2006. Ireland's population is increasing and it's moving ever eastwards," said PII Director Peter Stafford ahead of the Making Cities Work conference.

"Two out of every three people live on just 2.4pc of Ireland's landmass and we are becoming an urban country. We are still 15pc behind European norms for urban living, but catching up fast. Ireland is benefiting from the opportunities that come with being an urban country with large, dynamic cities as incubators for investment and innovation, but we are also facing some of the negative consequences."

He said Dublin now ranked with Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Los Angeles for congestion. "Just this week the city's Chief Executive admitted that cycling in Dublin should be improved to make it accessible for the 'unbrave'.

"There are a number of indicators which show whether a city is working - the availability and cost of housing, the cost of renting, the availability of commercial property, homelessness, the cost of travel. On a number of those indicators, Irish cities are not performing as well as they should. This reflects our complex and disjointed planning system, the lack of capital investment in infrastructure and weak local government. For a country which is so dependent on international investment for employment and economic activity, it is important that we reflect on whether we are allowing our competitiveness to erode.

The conference will be addressed by Sir Edward Lister, deputy mayor of London for Planning.