COADY is a member of Irish Cities 2070 – a group researching the future role, growth and character of Ireland’s cities. The project is sponsored by the RIAI and the Irish Academy of Engineering.

While the ‘National Development Plan’ and ‘Ireland 2040’ are turning points in spatial planning for Ireland, even longer-term thinking is needed to put in place a vision for the country and its cities as the island’s population grows towards 10 million, and North and South come closer together. The Irish Cities 2070 project examines the prime role of cities in the sustainable development of Irish society and its economy, and suggests how 10 million people can be accommodated in more dense, beautiful, high-amenity urban settings, among the best in Europe.

The project proposes new structures of regional and local governance, new scenarios for population distribution, the context of a vibrant and sustainable economy, the role and location of ports and airports, improved transport between and within our towns and cities, and achievement of significant growth outside Dublin – how and where might all our cities develop?

Galway is a city whose population growth challenges that of the Greater Dublin Area: finding ways to encourage regional cities to grow is a major plank of our work and understanding Galway’s success will help us develop policies for application elsewhere.

Given its size, context, opportunities and problems, Galway is an ideal vehicle for testing the approaches to planning and urban design we are devising – finding the genius loci of each city, developing a vibrant core, strengthening district and neighbourhood centres, densifying existing suburbs, and enhancing the green infrastructure of parks and the public realm.  In essence, creating ‘cities of short distances’ where local services and amenities are reached quickly and safely on foot or bicycle, and city-wide activities are more conveniently accessed by public transport than by car.