Recovery plan needs ambitious strategy for town and city centres, says Chambers Ireland

May 20, 2021

Sustainable, age-friendly towns and cities the subject of discussion at roundtable of experts including RIAI, Chamber leaders, researchers and local authority officials.

Ahead of a roundtable on sustainable cities and communities, Chambers Ireland today (20 May 2021) calls for an ambitious strategy and collaborative approach to ensure towns and cities are supported in the recovery.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“The pandemic has forced us to think differently about how we use space and how we spend our time. This has presented significant challenges for our urban centres which have suffered enormously from the cycles of lockdowns and closures. With outdoor dining on the horizon, and our cities and towns beginning to fill with life again, our members are eager to make the most of what will largely be an outdoor summer.

To do this successfully, we need to adapt our streets and public realm to create more space not just for businesses, but for people of all ages.  

In putting people back at the heart of our towns and cities, we must be creative about how we reconfigure space, encourage dwell time, and help people congregate safely. Our local authorities are critical to this conversation. Over the coming days and weeks, many of these authorities will hold public consultations on how we can best use our streets and public spaces.

To drive these conversations, we have compiled a guide to the best examples from towns and cities across Ireland. We urge our members and the wider community to engage with their local representatives and help to build vibrant and sustainable cities and towns. If you want to see positive change, say so, and make sure your voice is heard.”

Looking to the longer term, a strategy for cities and towns must be central to the promised National Recovery Plan and Chambers Ireland calls on Government to prioritise this a part of the National Recovery Plan and NDP Review.

Also speaking today, Chambers Ireland Head of Research, Shane Conneely said,

“A Town Centre First Strategy has been promised by Government. For our members, this plan will be integral to the sustainable recovery of local economies throughout the country.

From our perspective, such a strategy needs to be ambitious, properly resourced and matched with a legislative agenda that reforms how we deliver public transport, above-the-shop living, the development of brownfield sites and the repurposing of vacant premises.

For the Town Centre First strategy to be a successful urban living programme, it needs to re-energise our cities and towns and allow them to become attractive places to live, work, and play. That transformation means putting the needs of people first.

Sustainable transport that prioritises walkability will support this shift towards making our streets safer and more inclusive. This will not only help to reduce the climate emissions but is also good for business. People-friendly streets are good for communities and for local economies, and this increased footfall will help bring customers to the door of small business throughout the country.”


For further information, please contact Jonathan Baxter, Communications and Media Executive at Chambers Ireland on 086 608 1605 or .

Notes to editor

  • Places Matter – Chambers Ireland Guide to Best Practice in Sustainable Cities and Towns in the post-COVID-19 reopening. Download here.

Register for Chambers Ireland Webinar on Sustainable Towns and Cities.

  • The first session (2 – 3 p.m.) will focus on Sustainable Urban Spaces and Supporting Local Economies. It will be moderated by Ken Tobin, CEO of Tralee Chamber.
  • Our panel includes:
  • Mags Downey (CEO of Ballina Chamber) on “Greening Ballina”
  • Marian O’Donnell (Media & Public Affairs Manager at Dublin Chamber) on their 15-Minute Cities research.
  • Sharon O’Gara (RIAI) to discuss her work as an architect with Kildare County Council and local projects to support towns and villages.
  • The second session (from 3 – 4 p.m.) will focus on Using Culture and Age-Friendly Design to Support Sustainable Towns and Cities. It will be moderated by Kenny Deery, CEO of Galway Chamber, who also brings Galway’s perspective as an outgoing European Capital of Culture.
  • Our panel includes:
  • Margaret O’Brien (CEO of Ennis Chamber) who will talk about a collaboration with Creative Ireland
  • Aaron Copeland (Creative Director at A Playful City) on their work to promote age-friendly design.
  • Paul McGuirk (Head of Enterprise at LEO Cork City) to talk about Cork City Council’s Placemaking Fund.

About Chambers Ireland

Chambers Ireland is Ireland’s largest business network, with 41 member Chambers across every major city, town and region of the island. Aligning our strategic priorities with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, our aim is to make places better to live, work and do business.

Chambers Ireland is also a member of the International Chamber of Commerce, branded locally as ICC Ireland. The International Chamber of Commerce is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries with a mission to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.

Follow Chambers Ireland on Twitter.

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