The Guardian is carrying a story “A disdain for urban planning is the problem, not overcrowding:  Lack of planning has given us urban squalor, where, with a bit of regulation, dense populations could live in comfort“.  The basic thrust is that developer-led planning and so-called ‘value engineering’ – the desire to cram in as many apartments into a space as possible, with poorly designed social infrastructure and general lack of amenities, has led to high urban densities, poor aestethics, weak senses of community and social problems.  It concludes:

“Rather than being held to strict standards, developers were given carte blanche; instead of council housing easing the overcrowding of the poor, a percentage of allegedly affordable housing was sold in each block of terracotta-clad yuppiedromes. Meanness – “value engineering” as it is euphemistically known – was what made the New Labour landscape so grim, not height, planning or modernity, and certainly not overcrowding.”

Value engineering has certainly been at play in Ireland, especially given the need to cram as many units onto sites as possible to turn a sizable profit given the astromonical land costs.  The question is, are the apartment complexes here going to deteriorate into grim, urban squalor as this article suggests?

Rob Kitchin

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