Impact of a National Park City designation on Urban Development
One of the most interesting urban development-themed webinars to take place in Galway in the last few years was organised by the Galway National Park City initiative in September 2021 for the benefit of the councillors and officials of Galway City Council. Chaired by Micheál Ó Cinnéide, ex director of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) , and formally launched by Mayor Colette Connolly, presentations were made from an array of world renowned London-based developers as well as a senior official at Cardiff City Council; the chief executive of World Urban Parks and former senior government official in Australia; a former European Union official recently involved in the development of the Green Deal; and the founder of the London National Park City. All these experienced and highly respected individuals spoke of their support of the ‘National Park City’ designation and the benefits that it could bring Galway.
In a time when governments, businesses and civil society are coming together to tackle the interconnected crises of Climate Chaos, biodiversity loss and pandemics which are the defining characteristics of our age, it is recognised that the main battlefront in this war to save the planet lies not in the shrinking tropical forests, the melting ice-caps or the vast expanse of the warming oceans but rather in the cities where over 50% of the human population now live. For cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. And it is coastal cities such as Galway that are most at risk from the devastating impact of global warming, such as rising sea levels and powerful seaborne storms.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned that we are still on track for a climate catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions as there is a huge gap in leadership on tackling the crisis.
The Galway National Park City initiative could play a part in overcoming this serious deficit. It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness the fantastic range of talents and world class expertise found amongst the stakeholders of our great city, to reimagine our urban landscape, and to be a leader and a role model for other Irish cities to emulate. But time is our enemy in this fast changing world. Galway City Council must now grasp the opportunity that it is being presented to it by a coalition of champions drawn from education, business, scientific research, technology, architecture, arts, youth, health and community interests and to follow the lead of national, regional and local governments stretching from Cardiff to Adelaide in supporting this new and inspirational designation.
Read full write up here.
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 1: Daniel Raven-Ellison of the London National Park City
“The National Park City is a positive vision for the future that can bring people together to make life better in cities… with nine out of ten Londoners supporting it…(it is) not a reward for what is already there but a challenge and incentive for coming up with a plan for current and future initiatives…to share best practice with other cities across the world… a reference for inspiring development and is part of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s environment strategy to make London 50% green…people have been working for decades to make the city greener, healthier, wilder, to get more people out of doors but the National Park City status is about joining up and connecting everyone from local residents to developers towards shaping a new identity for London and Londoners to have our city known not just as a cultural or financial centre but also as an ecological centre where 15,000 species live and nearly half the city is physically green and blue.”
– Daniel Raven-Ellison, founder of the London National Park City
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 2: London Developers Speak Out
In Part 2, four key people involved in the property development sector in London –Julian Tollast (Quintain), Matthew Weaver (Fabrix), Natasha Zlobec (Sectorlight) and Michael Henderson (AECOM Europe)- outline why the National Park City designation has received support from property developers and investors in the capital of the United Kingdom.
“Quintain develops and invests in property in the UK and Ireland, most famous for our 85 acre site at Wembley Park and previously Greenwich Peninsula. We look at the National Park City as a positive thing and an asset…(it is) about development that creates new natural landscapes… helping to link new green spaces with existing green spaces in North West London…Key aspect of the London National Park City is in connecting peoples…creating new greener and wilder spaces and championing them…In the National Park City “Developers’ Forum”, we have other developers that are like-minded and abide by the same principles.”
–Julian Tollast, Head of Masterplanning and Design, Quintain
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 3: London NPC Developers’ Forum Co-Founder Speaks Out
In Part 3, Emily Hamilton, head of Environment Protection, Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance (ESG) at Savills Investment, outlines how the London National Park City Developers’ Forum has been a great success, providing a unique opportunity for developers to come together to share their experiences. She also explains how in today’s world the principles of ‘Development’ and ‘National Park City’ are very much linked with investors from sustainable investments funds wanting more and more to invest in greener projects.
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 4:
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 5: Europe’s largest ever regeneration project Speaks Out
“In the last 30 years we at the Canary Wharf Group have transformed this east end site into Europe’s largest ever regeneration project… We recently became the UK’s largest sustainable developer…Is National Park City status a barrier to development? No! It’s the opposite. It’s an enabler!! When a city has National Park City status it drives quality planning and development which takes into account the needs of all its residents, large and small.
We use the equation, more biodiversity = more green space = more nature = more happy people = more attraction = more investment, and so on…
A city with a National Park City status helps create the conditions for places, people and nature to thrive. We truly believe that the… collaborative…culture that built Canary Wharf is the same that we need to address the climate and biodiversity crises…”
Martin Gettings, Group Director Sustainability, Canary Wharf Group
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 6: The View from Brussels.
In Part 6, Kathryn Tierney, recently retired as an official at the Directorate General Environment of the European Commission and a policy coordinator for the European ‘Green Deal’, explains how the Galway National Park City initiative is the implementation of a green deal at a local level and that if it was recognised in the Development Plan by Galway City Council, it could be a hook to apply for EU funding because it is a true recognition and evidence of citizen engagement.
This is the World Calling Galway, Part 7: The View from Cardiff
In Part 7, Jonathan Maidment, Head of Parks and Harbour Authority at Cardiff Council, talks about how local government in the Welsh capital support the drive for National Park City designation and see the movement as a tool for engaging with a wide range of stakeholders