Adamstown – A template for Ireland

I pity the people of Lucan. You can understand why they don’t want even one more house there, given the state of gridlock in the area.

This, in a nutshell, is why so many in Lucan are opposed to the Adamstown plan, which promises to bring 10,000 new homes to the vicinity.

I don’t want to sound like a second-hand car salesman but this plan is different.

For a start, it hasn’t been designed by developers. This is hugely important because developers are notoriously disinclined to add those features that make the difference between a big housing estate and a neighbourhood.

This is a high density development which offers many benefits to the people who will live there. There will be one main centre and two smaller centres in the area so that all local facilities will be within walking distance, thus cutting down dramatically on car use.

The key to the area is the Kildare railway line so that everybody in Adamstown will be within walking distance of the station as well.

Adamstown will be a self contained community, with shops, cinemas, restaurants. In short, it will be everything that is bad about current suburban Dublin – all the rural disadvantages with no quality space to compensate.

The problem that Adamstown really tackles is urban sprawl. This is the phenomenon where developers keep tacking on housing estate after housing estate, where life without a car becomes impossible and where life depending on the car becomes unbearable.

In order to get away from gridlock people are moving further away from Dublin while still being economically dependent on it and so every road in and out of the city is clogged with commuters.

The key to all this is pro-active planning. Every urban space in the country should have a plan which allows for its expansion while keeping people within walking distance of the town centre.

If this conjures up images of ‘rabbit hutches’ think again. Good design can accommodate a variety of housing in a small area. If you think of the current bog standard housing estate of recurring three bed semi-ds, you can see how inappropriate and inflexible that is for modern society.

Far more people live alone these days. There are more single people, divorced people, widowed people who don’t need or want a semi-d to themselves.

Living over the shops concepts keep people close to services while keeping the urban space alive and secure after shopping hours.

The Adamstown plan accommodates all these ideas and addresses many of the failures of the past.

If each area had an agreed plan, then developers could build from the centre outwards and the new housing would relieve pressure for one-off units in the countryside as well.

The critical point is to ensure that all the promised infrastructure for Adamstown is put in place in time.

The people of Lucan deserve at least that much.