A new paper by Dr. David Counsell (Lecturer at University College Cork), Prof. Graham Haughton (University of Manchester) and Prof. Phil Allmendinger (University of Cambridge) examines the role of planning in Cork’s boom, bubble and bust.  The authors argue that one (partial) explanation for planning failure in Ireland was ‘the inability to foresee or to acknowledge the prospect of thousands of localized acts of resistance, which cumulatively undermined both the national model for planning and the national model for local–national governmental relations’ and that the failures of Irish planning are ultimately failures of politics.

It builds on and revisits previous research published in The New Spatial Planning: Territorial Management with Soft Spaces and Fuzzy Boundaries, published in 2010.


This paper develops a novel framework for analysing how planning became implicated in the Irish boom, bubble and bust years, as planners and politicians alike focused on generating positive visions for the future, whilst variously working to displace, defer and transfer the political tensions of the present. Empirically we focus on both national planning reforms and the high hopes for city regional planning in Cork Ireland after the publication of an innovative, nonstatutory strategic plan in 2001. A decade or so later, the plan has faltered, unable to broker a sustained commitment to its core principles from all partners. The reasons for this, we argue, relate to the wider problems of planning in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years, as an economic boom got translated into a property bubble, something that few officials cared to recognize or challenge publicly at the time. There were, however, doubters—but they were sidelined or vilified. Framing our analysis in terms of recent literature on soft spaces and post-politics, we argue that soft space planning for metropolitan Cork exposes deep-seated problems in Irish planning.

The article can be downloaded here