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With reference to specific examples, to what extent has community participation been successfully achieved in Irish urban planning and regeneration?

With reference to specific examples, to what extent has community participation been successfully achieved in Irish urban planning and regeneration?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Alice Bentley. Originally submitted for Geography Major Philosophy Minor at Trinity College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Andrew MacLaran in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Alice Bentley. Originally submitted for Geography Major Philosophy Minor at Trinity College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Andrew MacLaran in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
With reference to specific examples, to what extent hascommunity participation been successfully achieved in Irishurban planning and regeneration?
Key words
community participation, Irish urban planning 
 AbstractCommunity participation has been a successful dynamic in Irish urbanplanning and regeneration initiatives only to the extent that it has exposed thedebatable nature of the G
overnment’s structure and priorities with regards to
urban development. The power structures and drastically differing prioritiesthat are revealed in government initiatives when communities attempt toinfluence urban planning and regeneration in inner city Dublin appear distant
from the communities’ needs. T
he underlying purpose of urban planningcomes into question: is it there to serve the people or to create capital gain?This essay looks at two examples of urban planning initiatives in Dublin thathave attempted to involve communities in the urban planning andregeneration of Dublin: the Liberties/Coombe Integrated Area Plan and the
demolition plans of St Michael’s Estate.
By analysing the main issues facedby the community whilst trying to be involved in the urban planning andregeneration of Dublin this essay highlights the short fallings in the localauthorities and Government that meant the communities were neither correctly involved in the plans nor given the power to make a constructivedifference to the plans. In this way we see that the extent to which communityinvolvement in urban planning and regeneration were successful was severelylimited by the structure and underlying priorities of the Irish Government andsociety as a whole.Fundamentally, the process does not allow for the involvement of thecommunities that require the most help. The structure and the system are setup to favour those with money, expertise, time and resources, thus work
 
against the lower classes, those who are in most need of effective socio-economic improvements. By forcing the differing parties to work together, it iseasy for economic efficiency to overrule community gain and local priorities.The paper concludes that the only way in which community involvement can
be classed as “successful” is because it has exposed
a fundamental flaw inthe entrepreneurial focused Irish Government. The focus on entrepreneurialinitiatives in Irish Government has resulted in the power structure shifting infavour of private project managers. As a result, the priority has shifted towardseconomic advance and away from a community based approach. This reflectsa wider discussion into the effects of capitalism on the society as a whole.Since the economic downturn in recent years we have seen the imbalance of suffering towards the lowest socio-economic groups while the wealthier decision makers were able to reposition their power and wealth and continueas before. The problems highlighted by the attempted community involvementin entrepreneurial urban planning and regeneration initiatives further supportthe need to re-think the capitalist foundations of our society.*******EssayCommunity participation has been a successful dynamic in Irish urbanplanning and regeneration initiatives only to the extent that it has exposed thedebatable nature of the G
overnment’s
structure and priorities with regards tourban development. The power structures and drastically differing prioritiesthat are revealed in government initiatives when communities attempt toinfluence urban planning and regeneration in inner city Dublin appear distantfrom
the communities’
needs. The underlying purpose of urban planningcomes into question: is it there to serve the people or to create capital gain?Planning plays an essential role in society as it affects individual quality of lifeand the viability of the community (Brudell et al., 2007b). The IrishGovernment does not appear to have encouraged an integrated approach toplanning with community gain at the heart. Rather, the manner in whichcommunities were involved in inner city Dublin initiatives seems to highlight
 
that the very foundations of the plans were not designed to aid communitygain in the lowest socio-economic areas, but instead encourage managementpower and economic investment. The long-term consequences of entrepreneurialism and capital gain in society seem to be leading to anuneven temporal and spatial pattern in the urban landscape (Kelly, 2007).This can be extended to the broader structures and priorities existing in our entrepreneurial focused society that appears to isolate the needs of thepoorest in society.The approach to urban planning and regeneration in Ireland has changed inrecent decades through the influence of broad social and economic change.Following the post-industrial decline, governments across the Western worldwere looking for ways to regenerate inner cities. With the arrival of MargaretThatcher and Ronald Reagan, the political and societal outlook became oneof neoliberal focus. Relaxed government regulations allowed the boundariesof the public and private sectors to merge by means of entrepreneurial public-private partnerships (People and Power, 2008). The traditional rationalgovernment outlook to urban planning as a strict separate entity to the privatesector was then replaced with the more flexible entrepreneurial urbandevelopment.In Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to improve the socio-economicposition of inner city dwellers, the Government encouraged the movement of lower economic groups and investment out to the suburbs of Dublin (Kelly,2007). In the 1980s there was a growing movement in Ireland towardsentrepreneurialism accelerated by the Irish economic boom. This exposed theIrish population to wealth and success that they had not known previously,increasing the requirement for housing and office space. The inner city of Dublin experienced a revalourisation. This property-led regeneration of theinner city included large-scale construction of private apartments for middleand upper economic classes, industrial and financial spaces, the spiralling of house and land prices and the displacement of indigenous residents (Kelly,2007). Entrepreneurialism became a theme in government policy, as theDublin City Council introduced urban renewal initiatives, special-purpose

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