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05/15/2014 12:00:00 AM


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O'Sullivan, Jan

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Topical Issues

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National Spatial Strategy

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National spatial strategy

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Environment

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implementation of

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841

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Topical Issues\National Spatial Strategy

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National Spatial Strategy

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Environment\National spatial strategy, implementation of

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Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan)

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Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan)

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Jan O'Sullivan

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Snippet Contents:

I thank Deputy Mitchell for raising this matter and I agree with her that it is very important.
The current national spatial strategy, NSS, was published in 2002 and was Ireland's first national strategic spatial planning framework. In essence, it introduced the concept of spatial development to the public policy agenda and set an overarching framework for the planned spatial development of the country. In this regard, it aimed to provide the spatial vision and principles to achieve a better balance of social, economic and physical development and population growth between regions through the co-ordinated development of the gateway cities and towns and hub towns together with complementary policies to activate the potential for lasting economic development in their hinterlands and wider regions. The NSS has since served as a strategic context for spatial planning in Ireland by regional authorities in their regional planning guidelines role, for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála in their statutory planning functions, and by influencing investment priorities, particularly in transport, housing, water services, communications, energy, health and education infrastructure.
The current NSS was drawn up at a time of unprecedented economic growth and transformation in terms of economic output, population growth and their various interactions in generating demand for travel and other necessary infrastructure. The economic circumstances now facing the country are significantly different from those in which the first NSS was drawn up. The economic outlook from now to the end of this decade sees Ireland attempting to move from fragile recovery to sustained renewal, as it addresses the challenges of achieving sustainable long-term economic stability and growth. In this changed context, it is timely to consider the development of a new successor NSS to provide a spatial framework complementing wider efforts to support sustainable long-term national economic recovery.
Against this background, and while the existing NSS remains in place, I and my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, established in August 2013 a successor national spatial strategy scoping group comprising three experts with extensive experience of spatial planning and economic and social development, to prepare a short scoping report on the development of a new national planning framework to replace the current NSS. I received the experts' scoping report earlier this year and I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly on the roadmap to develop a new national planning framework. It would be my objective that this new national planning framework will be finalised and in place by the end of 2015.
I take Deputy Mitchell's point that we need to engage in a national conversation about this. We intend to have public consultations with various bodies and individuals. We will seek to have a balanced development in the country, as well as examining the strengths of various regions and population centres to build on those strengths. The scoping document has been received and we will shortly bring proposals to Government. We will then go out to public consultation. I hope there will be a genuine national debate on this matter because it is about what kind of country we are going to create. Spatial planning is very important in that regard.