So what’s new in the Southern Region?
We’ve had spatial planning before, we’ve had economic planning before but up until now we haven’t witnessed the marriage of both at a regional level in Ireland. Today we’ve published an Issues paper to kick-start a public dialogue on how by nurturing that marriage, the well-being and prosperity of the people of the Southern region will be safeguarded and improved.
The Regional Assemblies of which there are three, are each tasked with working with state agencies, Government departments and their constituent local authorities, to co-produce Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies or RSES for short.
The RSES will reflect Government policy as set out in the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) Ireland 2040. The public consultation for the NPF concluded on Friday 10th November and its publication by Government is anticipated shortly. In essence the RSES will be the successor to the Regional Planning Guidelines but instead of guidelines what we will have is a strategy for the region, a vision for the region, not one that stitches on economic and social needs on to the side of spatial plans but one that informs how we plan holistically for our future and how we collectively strive to improve the quality of life for all the citizens of our region.
The scale of Ireland’s growth since the early 1990’s has been unprecedented, notwithstanding the impact of economic recession. Our population has increased by more than 1.1 million people, to 4.75 million. Our housing stock has expanded by more than 750,000, to just over two million homes. Numbers in employment have also grown by more than 660,000, to more than two million people in 2017.
Current trends suggest that the Republic’s population could increase by a further one million people over the period to 2040. This is going to require an enormous shift in thinking in how and where people live, work, recreate and travel. The development pressures arising, along with the need to address development legacies from the past require innovative and long-term thinking.
Effective regional development is about embracing the spatial development opportunities specific to each of the regions. This requires choices to be made which will reflect the differing needs and potential of the regions and will therefore result in economic and spatial strategies which differ from one region to another. These tailored regional strategies are to be developed and implemented by the Regional Assemblies through new RSESs.
Addressing a meeting of the members of the Assembly who gathered to deliberate on the Issues paper in Assembly House, Stephen Blair, Director acknowledged the importance of the process we are embarking upon. He said “we view as critical our newly minted responsibility of preparing a long-term twelve to twenty years Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the whole of our region. The overarching purpose of the RSES is to support the implementation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the economic policies and objectives of the Government”.
On referring to the Assembly’s vision for the Southern region, Mr. Blair said “we can provide the framework through which this vision can be delivered. We are proud to be at the helm of this new and exciting course for the region, to partner with the relevant state and local agencies in a co-production of a strategy that will harness the resources and impetus to create and sustain quality jobs and identify regional strengths and opportunities.”
An Issues Paper and commencing a formal pre-draft consultation is publised on our website, see link below to the paper. This pre-draft consultation in the form of an Issues paper, opens the forum as widely as possible. Cllr. John Brennan, Cathaoirleach said “in an interdependent, connected, modern society, strategy formulation and plan making needs the buy-in of citizens and stakeholders if it is to succeed. Planning deliberatively to safeguard our environment, our futures, while keeping to the fore the principle of equality, augurs greater success for all”.
The Issues paper is published on our website and written submissions at this first stage of the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy process are invited by post or email, by Friday 16th February 2018 at 5 pm.
Note for Editor:
Since 1st January 2015, three Regional Assemblies have been tasked with specific functions regarding spatial planning and economic development as well as EU funding programmes, oversight of local authority performance and Local Economic and Community Plans, and implementation of national policy.
The membership of the Regional Assemblies consists of members of the local authorities within each of the three regions and each of the Assemblies has been given a clear a leadership role to play in identifying regional policies and coordinating initiatives that support the delivery and implementation of national planning policy. It is also the role of the Regional Assemblies to co-ordinate local authorities to secure shared national and local objectives.
The Southern Region consists of the administrative areas of Carlow, Cork, Clare, Kerry, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wexford County Councils, Limerick City and County Council, Waterford City and County Council and Cork City Council. The region covers about 42% of the total land area of the country and had a total population of almost 1.6 million people at the time of the 2016 census.
The Southern Region is endowed with a number of significant advantages such as:
- Three out of four Regional Cities (Cork, Limerick and Waterford) located within the region
- Positive population growth of almost 3% over the last five years
- Rural areas characterised by resilient rural communities supported by a strong network of towns and villages
- Good quality farm land with high agricultural yields and strong food processing capabilities
- A modern and diverse industrial base with established cluster and specialisms in high value sectors such as pharmaceuticals, life sciences, aviation, precision engineering, ICT, food and beverages
- An impressive record of employment growth with 62,600 new jobs created in the last five years
- Two Universities and five Institutes of Technology with a combined full-time student population of approximately 55,000 with an additional 12,000 part-time students
- Two out of three state airports at Shannon and Cork as well as two regional airports in Kerry and Waterford
- Four out of five Tier 1 and Tier 2 Ports of National Significance at Cork, Shannon Foynes, Waterford and Rosslare
- Net energy exporter with an abundance of clean renewable energy growth potential
- An extensive coastline with significant Marine Resource potential
Key targets identified for the Southern Region include:
- Population increase of between 350,000 and 375,000 people between now and the year 2040
- Creation of 220,000 new jobs to support the above level of population increase
- Population and jobs growth to be aligned to occur within the same functional area to minimise unsustainable commuting patterns
- Cork City and suburbs population increasing by 115,000 additional people (an increase of more than 55%) from a population of 209,000 in 2016 to 324,000 by the year 2040
- Limerick City and Suburbs population also increasing by more than 55% with an additional 52,000 people raising the population from 94,000 in 2016 to 146,000 by 2040
- Waterford City and Suburbs population to increase by 30,000 people
- Population growth for large towns with >10,000 population in 2016 should generally be 20-25%, which is ahead of projected national average growth.
- Population growth of Ireland’s smaller towns and rural areas of 15%