I welcome everybody to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Today is the second in a series of meetings the committee has been holding to look at urban regeneration and how to bring some life, vitality and living back into our urban towns and villages across the country. In the first meeting, we looked at dereliction, decay and vacancy. We also looked a little bit at compulsory purchase. It is important to note that, even if you address dereliction and vacancy and have a town that is full to capacity, that town may still not be a very nice place to live. There are other aspects that contribute to nice liveable towns, villages and cities. In this second meeting, we will look at some other aspects in respect of transport, active transport and the public realm, which is really important. I refer to the nice places people have in towns, how to get around, through or to the town and how to get from town and town. We will look at many of the transport aspects of this question. We will also look at the Town Centres First policy and active transport.
I am delighted we are joined today by the Heritage Council. I welcome back Ms Virginia Teehan, chief executive officer who is joined by Ms Alison Harvey from the collaborative town centre health check, CTCHC, programme. Some tremendous work has been done up and down the country on that programme. It is vitally important research where they look at the baseline and economic aspects of towns and their spatial dimensions, transport, culture of the community and commercial and residential aspects. A baseline is created as a plan to implement actions to put life back into towns. Both Ms Teehan and Ms Harvey are very welcome.
We are joined by Mr. David O'Connor, assistant head of school, spatial planning and transport; Dr. Sarah Rock, lecturer spatial planning and transport; and Dr. Lorraine D’Arcy, senior lecturer, spatial planning and transport, Technological University Dublin, TU Dublin. They are very welcome. I thank them for supplying an opening statement. I am very interested in hearing their experience of active travel and all the accompanying aspects such as the reallocation of road space, pedestrian permeability and nice linkage through places. I am interested in hearing how we can get around towns to places of work, recreation, school, employment and all of the accompanying aspects so I look forward to their contributions on that.
We are joined by Mr. Conn Donovan who is the chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign. I have no doubt that a lot of what he will advocate for we will hear from TU Dublin as well because they probably have aligned desires in cycling. He is very welcome.
Finally, we are joined by Dr. Cathal FitzGerald, senior analyst, and Mr. Noel Cahill, economist, National Economic and Social Council, NESC. In particular, I look forward to discussing the transport orientated development paper that NESC produced about two years ago, which very much feeds into our work as a committee on housing, local government, planning and heritage. Therefore, this committee is about how we travel, build houses and create communities around the really good transport hubs that exist, and the high-frequency, comfortable, reliable and affordable public transport links, and how we can bring all of those aspects together. All the witnesses are very welcome.
Members are reminded of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of the place where Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House, in order to participate in public meetings. Members attending remotely from within the Leinster House complex are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their contributions to today's meeting. This means that they will have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they say at the meeting.
For witnesses attending remotely, there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege. As such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a person who is physically present within the Leinster House complex. Members and witnesses are expected not to abuse the privilege they enjoy, and it is my duty as Chair to ensure that privilege is not abused. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory in respect of an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks and it is imperative that they comply with any such direction. Members and witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
The opening statements that were submitted to the committee by our witnesses today will be published on the committee website following this meeting. I ask witnesses to make brief opening statements as we have a lot of witnesses and questions to get through. The opening statements submitted are comprehensive and we would appreciate being briefed. I invite Ms Teehan to make her opening statement.