Updated: 10/11/17 : 12:31:13
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Draft National Planning Framework needs to address regional growth in a more focused way — WDC

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published its submission on the Draft National Planning Framework, saying it would have hoped for a “more focused document with clearer commitments”.

The WDC is a statutory body promoting social and economic development in the Western Region, covering counties Sligo, Leitrim, Clare, Donegal, Galway and Roscommon.

The WDC is unique as it is the only agency with the remit to advise national government on policy changes vital for the Western Region.

The Draft National Planning Framework (NPF), Ireland 2040 Our Plan, was published by the government in late September and the deadline for submissions to the consultation process is today (November 10).

In its submission, the WDC says there is no information as to how the plan’s 70 ‘National Policy Objectives’ will be implemented, enacted or put into policy.

“The Draft is in fact quite general and aspirational and the real detail is only in the target population growth and jobs growth and in details of planning mechanisms,” reads the submission.

The WDC pointed out that, apart from the cities, Dundalk is the only large town mentioned in the Draft NPF and there is no specific strategy given for any place outside the country’s five cities.

Ian Brannigan, Acting CEO of the Western Development Commission (WDC), said:

“While there is recognition of the weak urban structure of the North West, no place there is named as being key to the development of the region as a whole. Without such a focus it seems likely that the North West will find it more difficult to realise its potential.”

The WDC’s submission also points out that:

    The Draft NPF implies that the objective of spatial balance should occur only after
    economic growth rates converge with those of other countries
    It is assumed that growth of the cities will lead to growth of their ‘city region’ but there is
    no explanation of how this will happen
    The NPF does not address specific development challenges facing regions such as
    the accessibility and urban structure of the North West
    There is no discussion as to how developing urban areas will benefit rural ones.

The WDC submission also points out that as the North West does not have a city, a single regional centre needs to be identified to perform these functions for the region.

Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, WDC said: “This needs to be done in the NPF document and not left solely to the Regional Economic and Spatial Strategies (RSESs). Sligo is the best located centre to serve the wider region and it needs to be very clearly identified and prioritised for investment… if there is to be any chance of meeting the NPF targets.”

The full Western Development Commission statement is available here: http://www.wdc.ie/publications/submissions/