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Transport Orientated Development

The Council has recently completed and published a significant piece of research on the topic of transport-orientated development (TOD) and the potential for its application in Ireland. TOD is a form of urban development that seeks to maximise the provision of housing, employment, public services and leisure space within close proximity to transport nodes (e.g. rail and/or bus) that are serviced by frequent, high quality services. It is also a form of urban development that is well aligned with Ireland’s international and national policy positions, and with recent institutional developments in relation to active land management by the State.

Internationally, Ireland has an ongoing commitment to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of these goals – sustainable cities and communities – recognises increased urbanisation around the world, and is based on a recognition that sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. For example, the level of harmful emissions from the transport sector has grown and continued growth in transport activity will create increasingly challenging conditions in which to meet Ireland’s climate-related objectives.

At a national level, the Government has published Project Ireland 2040, a National Planning Framework (NPF). The NPF is Ireland’s high-level strategic plan for shaping growth and development out to 2040. One of the NPFs ten National Strategic Outcomes is compact growth. The objective is to ensure the sustainable growth of more compact urban and rural settlements, supported by jobs, houses, services and amenities, rather than continued sprawl and unplanned, uneconomic growth. In parallel, a new National Development Plan (NDP) sets out the significant level of investment (circa €116 billion) which the Government believes will underpin the NPF. This includes significant investment in both transport infrastructure and housing. Further, the Government has established the Land Development Agency (LDA) and the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR).

The research project built on NESC’s existing body of work on housing and infrastructure, and examines transport-orientated development and its role in underpinning affordable housing and sustainable urban development. This research includes analysis of international evidence on the role of transport in widening the potential of active land management through unlocking land for housing, sustainable urban development and regeneration. The work also includes analysis of a number of Irish urban development projects and the lessons to be learned. The work considered what institutional and policy changes might facilitate public transport projects being re-imagined as nationally significant land use, housing and transport projects.

The research finds that the State must build on the vision set out in Project Ireland 2040 to maximise the number of homes, jobs, services and amenities which are close to frequent, high-quality transport nodes. Reaching the strategic objectives of compact growth and sustainable mobility will require further specific decisions to create such development at key locations, new institutional arrangements and tailored funding mechanisms.

Given the anticipated scale of expenditure on both housing and transport under the NDP, this research assists in the exploration of how a focus on transport-orientated development can maximise the potential of this investment and contribute to the provision of more affordable housing, the transition to a more sustainable transport system and the delivery of compact and higher quality urban development.

The full report can be viewed here

Further Reading:

NESC hosted an invite-only workshop to discuss this work on Friday, 28th June, details are contained in the links below.

International Speaker Presentations: