Cross-Sector Open Letter Calls for National Taskforce to revive our town centres in a new post-pandemic world

Chambers Ireland, today (31 May 2020), calls on the next Government to make a commitment that the Department of the Taoiseach will lead a sufficiently resourced, cross-departmental National Taskforce to revive our town centres in a new post-pandemic world. The overarching objective of this Taskforce must be to enhance liveability, increase housing supply and support sustainable, active transport.

In an open letter, Chambers Ireland is joined by its members and several other bodies, associations, and individuals, including the IPI and RIAI, who share this vision and calls for the next Programme for Government to include a national strategy that prioritises sustainable town centres and supports them to thrive.

Open Letter Calling for National Taskforce for Town Centres

“As our local economies begin to reopen, we must remember that the challenges we faced in January are not only still present; they are even more pressing.

Post COVID-19, the question we must ask ourselves is not how do we return to the old normal, but rather how do we make our country more sustainable?

It is by making ourselves a resilient society – offering people sustainable employment in towns and cities, coupled with effective action on climate change – that we will surmount these challenges.

Social distancing requirements have revealed the overwhelming need for safe and people-centred places and environments – our towns and cities must adapt to survive. City and town centres need to be given support at a national level so they can adapt to this “new normal”.

Creative urban design, spatial planning and fiscal policies will be a critical part of the overall solution and must be put in place to support the transition. Unless we take radical action to address reduced footfall, increasing vacancies and declines to commercial activity, we risk exacerbating the economic downturn in towns throughout the country.

We, the under-signed, call for the next Programme for Government to prioritise sustainable town centres and support them to thrive.

Ireland needs the Department of the Taoiseach to lead a sufficiently resourced, cross-departmental National Taskforce to revive our town centres in a new post-pandemic world. The overarching objective must be to enhance liveability, increase housing supply and support sustainable, active transport.

If we do not tackle these crises, with the ambition and vision needed to overcome them, we will fail not only the towns that make up the fabric of our society, but the people, businesses and communities that encompass them.”

Jenny Beresford, Dungarvan ChamberDr Aoife Corcoran (Dublin)Catriona Cahill, Limerick Chamber
Tara Buckley (Dublin)Dr Philip Crowe (Dublin)Anne Cunnane, Ballyhaunis Chamber
Mark Dearey (Dundalk)Bernard Greene (Leitrim)Margaret O’ Brien, Ennis Chamber
Kenny Deery, Galway ChamberAlison Harvey (Kilkenny)Orla Purcell, IPI
Bernadette Donohoe (Sligo)Conor Healy, Cork ChamberStephen Purcell (Dublin)
Bernie Everard, Laois ChamberJohn Hurley, Kilkenny ChamberEunan Quinn (Donegal)
Martha Farrell (Tralee)Dr Luke Kelleher (Dublin/Belfast)Annemarie Ryan (Tipperary)
Dr Miriam Fitzpatrick (Dublin)Denis Kelly (Donegal)Charlotte Sheridan MRIAI MIPI
Dr Karen Foley (Dublin)Michael Margey (Letterkenny)Sarah Sherlock (Laois)
Toni Forrester, Letterkenny ChamberAebhric McGibney, Dublin ChamberIan Talbot, Chambers Ireland
Carmel Fox (Tipperary)Kathryn Meghen, RIAIKen Tobin, Tralee Chamber
Dr Neil Galway (Belfast)Orla Murphy (Mayo)Nathalie Weadick (Dublin)
Michael Gaynor, Dundalk ChamberRóisín Nic Cóir (Dublin)Tony Williams IFLA
Deirdre Greaney (Sligo) Kevin Woods FRIAI