Disseminating PARCOUR to transport researchers at UTSG Dublin

Dr David Williams | Image: The cranes on the skyline show that the Celtic Tiger has started to re-sharpen its claws.

Prior to working on the PARCOUR project my previous research and work experience have been in the transportation sector. Therefore the Universities Transport Studies Group (UTSG) annual conference felt like the right place for me to present some of our initial findings from the data collection process of the UK case studies. This is because the PARCOUR project is designed to explore who is responsible for delivering the ‘public good’, and in all three case studies this public good has included the provision of new transport infrastructure.

I had presented my paper at the Centre for Transport and Society UWE’s winter conference in December 2016 and it was very well received, possibly because the majority of the 100+ audience knew the sites. I was therefore confident the paper would resonate with the target audience, even if they didn’t have the detailed knowledge of regeneration projects in the south west of England.

Landing in Eire on the cold January morning I was struck by the sheer number of cranes on the Dublin skyline. It looked like the Celtic Tiger was roaring back to life following its spectacular collapse less than a decade before. When I’d previously visited Dublin in 2008, in the midst of the economy collapse any questions about the Celtic Tiger typical self-depreciating Irish humour about how the country was a kitten without claws. Well it looks like in Dublin at least, possibly benefiting off the back of Brexit, the Celtic Tiger is slowly re-clawing its way back to the top table.

Having taken an early flight and lacking a hotel room, I took a walk through the city. The links to PARCOUR became quickly evident as I stumbled upon a Brazilian shop. For some reason this confirmed my decision in my mind that this was the right place to be presenting about our research.

A link to our Brazilian Counterparts in central Dublin.

I’ve always preferred presenting early at conferences and being the first speaker in the first session straight after the plenary certainly fulfilled that requirement. I’m not sure if I set the bar for the rest of the UTSG presentations but the 20 or so attendees listened intently as I discussed how the majority of Section 106 funding, a payment to mitigate impacts by developers, had in all three cases been invested by local authorities in new highway infrastructure. This is important as this ‘public good’ provides a benefit to the developers, as in Gloucester where it has allowed people to access the new shopping centre at Gloucester Quays.

Transport and accessibility form essential components of any development or regeneration process. For me it was important to place these both in the context of planning and transportation research. Through the process of writing my paper and presenting it I was finally able to link my two worlds together as part of a coherent whole.