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Government Launches National Spatial Strategy
“The National Spatial Strategy will ensure a wider spread of economic activity throughout the country and a better quality of life for both urban and rural areas,” Minister Martin Cullen said today (28 November).

Mr Cullen, Minister for the Environment and Local Government, was speaking at the launch of the National Spatial Strategy in the presence of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD and the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Tom Parlon TD.

Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach described the National Spatial Strategy as “the basis for how we match people, places and potential across the whole country, benefiting all regions over the next 20 years in a sustainable way.

“The National Spatial Strategy is a 20 year strategy designed to enable every place in the country to reach its potential, no matter what its size or location. It recognises that various regions of the country have different roles. It seeks to organise and co-ordinate these roles in a complementary, win-win way. It is about making regions competitive according to their strengths and not against one another. It is about ensuring a high quality urban environment, as well as vibrant rural areas.”

The Taoiseach continued: “All other Government policies must and will be consistent with the National Spatial Strategy, whether it is transport, health, education or housing.”

Presenting the Strategy, Minister Cullen highlighted the key aims of the National Spatial Strategy. He said - “The National Spatial Strategy is about building for tomorrow, not just for today. The National Spatial Strategy promotes a better spread of job opportunities, a better quality of life and better places to live in. The best way to do this is to consolidate the development of our capital city and promote places in the regions with sufficient scale and critical mass to attract significant investment and job opportunities.

“The National Spatial Strategy is not an investment plan in itself – it is a framework within which existing and future investment and development plans must work. It is the clearest indicator yet that a greater share of economic activity must take place in the regions”.

The National Spatial Strategy will inform and direct anyone making decisions in relation to planning matters or spatial policy over the next twenty years. It will outline how and where to bring people, services and infrastructure together so that opportunities for investment are opened up across the country.

The strategy is based on extensive and detailed analysis of existing trends and anticipated needs. It defines the characteristics of existing successful areas, both in Ireland and beyond, and recognises the existing imbalances which have to be overcome or offset.

That analysis concluded that:
• Strong ‘urban’ structures (towns and cities) are an essential element of successful regions
• Linkages between those cities and their surrounding hinterlands are the basis for spreading benefits in the wider region
• The most efficient development of Ireland’s regions will come from building on existing strengths and managing them to complement each other.

Minister Cullen said: “The National Spatial Strategy has identified a national framework of ‘gateways’ and ‘hubs’ which will provide the necessary scale of infrastructure and services to increase the economic attractiveness of every region of the country. The ‘gateways’ will be expected to drive development across the urban and rural areas they influence and support more balanced patterns of national level development.

Five of the ‘gateway’ centres were previously identified in the National Development Plan – Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Four further gateways were announced in the Border, Midlands and West regions. These are: Sligo, Letterkenny (working closely with Derry), Dundalk and the linked gateway of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar in the Midlands.

The wider network of nine hubs will have a critical strategic role in energising the immediate areas around them by providing strengthened structures for more focussed investment across the country. These are: Castlebar/Ballina, Tuam, Ennis, Tralee/Killarney, Mallow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Monaghan and Cavan.

Mr Parlon, Minister of State at the Department of Finance welcomed the publication. He said - “We need more development in the regions so that all the people of the country, no matter where they live, can enjoy the benefits of our economic development. In particular we need a better spread of job opportunities close to where people live. I support the framework of the National Spatial Strategy which provides for strong cities and towns as well as thriving rural areas“.

Minister Cullen said: “At the core of the National Spatial Strategy are appropriate spatial policies in relation to the location of employment, the location of residential development, the spatial aspects of rural development, how people access services and how they can continue to enjoy a high quality environment.

“From today the National Spatial Strategy represents government policy on strategic planning and development. Every agency or authority with responsibility for planning will be required to build the requirements of the National Spatial Strategy into their plans, strategies and regulations. The benefits of a national approach will deliver more balanced regional development”, the Minister concluded.

Author:Neil Flynn
Posted Date:11/29/2002

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