The Inclusive City
Dissertation Abstract 2020
The area under investigation in this paper is the North Lotts, historically a landscape of warehouses, factories and stores, with neighbouring communities which were dependent on the port, until the advent of containerization created mass unemployment and decline.
A succession of state bodies has, beginning in 1986 with the Urban Renewal Act, tried to combat decline and create investment, such as the Custom House Docks Development Authority which was replaced by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The area is now part of the wider Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), which allows developers to apply directly to An Bord Pleanala, without the possibility of appeal, therefore expediting the process and incentivising investment. The stated ambition of the 2014 SDZ masterplan is to “Design an Inclusive city together”
The term “Inclusive City”, lacking a universal definition, has been accused of being a catch all phrase with little precision in use. It is also not defined in the SDZ masterplan, nor in Dublin City councils development plan, although the latter provides a definition for inclusive communities, and inclusive design. This paper understands the term to mean cities that provide public space, housing, and services which cater to the widest range of users, as well as establishing institutional interaction between marginalised groups and the state. Therefore an inclusive city should provide inclusive built fabric, as well as an inclusive planning process.
Evidence of power dynamics in the planning system has been well documented in existing literature, as well as evidence of a “shadow planning system” (Fox-Rogers and Murphy, 2014), whereby developers are granted more informal access to planners in “cash strapped” local authorities who rely on development and investment.
This paper aims to find evidence of inclusive city building in the North Lotts, by examining the Dublin Landings superblock as a case study. Research is carried out by initially comparing the evolution of successive masterplans, on metrics such as the planning process, public space and its relationship to existing communities. This is then compared to the planning applications for Dublin landings which span from 2015 to the present, and supported by an observational analysis of the completed public realm.
If the Dublin Landings development has inadequately committed to the stated aims of the masterplan, this paper seeks to explore the causal forces, and whether it points to the existence of a shadow planning system.