4. Economic Development, Tourism and Retail

Closed16 Sep, 2022, 9:00am - 14 Oct, 2022, 5:00pm
Carlow Town is designated as the principal driver of economic growth, employment generation and service provision in County Carlow. Graiguecullen is also designated as a Key Town in County Laois.
Carlow Industrial Complex

Clusters of small and medium enterprises have emerged in the greater urban area. While the area has many economic attributes the further development of Carlow – Graiguecullen as a regional and inter-regional growth driver will require a significant increase in job opportunities to sustain the existing and growing population.

Key industries in Carlow Town are outlined in Table 4.

Industry Sectors in Carlow Town  

Agriculture, forestry and fishing


Building and construction


Manufacturing industries


Commerce and trade


Transport and communications


Public administration


Professional services




Table 4: Industry Sectors in Carlow Town (Census 2016)

The Councils will continue to support the growth and expansion of existing and new employment generating uses, the reuse of brownfield sites, the promotion of the town centre through key interventions and by addressing vacancy / dereliction and use of underutilised lands within the town centre.

It remains an objective of both Carlow and Laois County Councils that the Joint Urban Area is positioned and promoted as having a vibrant enterprise culture capable of sustaining and expanding local enterprises, creating employment and attracting inward investment. The new Local Area Plan will seek to build on and enhance the role of the area as a driver for economic development, in addition to promoting expansion, diversification, and engagement with key agencies to support the future development of the area.

Carlow Town River Barrow Boat


Tourism is a significant contributor to the local economy in Carlow. Carlow Tourism’s mission for the sector is to enrich its visitors by offering a unique holiday experience through the provision of the ideal base for active holidays set against the natural panoramic backdrop of Carlow’s rich heritage.

Development of the tourist product has been supported through significant investment in the arts and cultural offering of the area which has taken place including development of the Cultural Quarter in Carlow Town in an area around the George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Visual Art Gallery, County Museum and Carlow Cathedral. Further investment in the tourist offering will continue in the coming years with €500,000 being provided for the development of the tourist product in Carlow Town under Failte Ireland’s Destination Town Funding call in 2019.

The Joint LAP will seek to maintain and facilitate the expansion of the tourism product by;

  • Facilitating the expansion of the existing tourism product;
  • Identifying cross boundary projects;
  • Identifying strategic sites capable of accommodating new tourism ventures while ensuring the preservation of the natural landscape;
  • Seeking the enhancement of the appearance of the area through appropriate development.
  • Seeking the enhancement of the public realm;
  • Ensuring a high-quality design in the delivery of the tourism product; and
  • Facilitating the development of alternative products such as eco-tourism, craft, artisan studios etc.


Carlow Town Farmers Market


Under the Carlow County Retail Strategy 2022-2028 Carlow County Town Centre is designated ‘Level 1’ and forms the first tier within the retail hierarchy, being the principal urban centre in the county. In accordance with its role and function, the town exhibits a number of higher order retail, service and specialist functions. Carlow town centre should continue to be the prime focus for future development and in particular high order comparison retail floor space.

Under the Laois County Retail Strategy 2021-2027 Graiguecullen is designated ‘Level 3’ and forms the third tier within the retail hierarchy. In accordance with its Level 3 status it is to provide for shopping, amenity, commercial and community facilities of a scale and type to serve residents living within the district without undermining Carlow town centre.

Key considerations with regard to retail include;

  • The need to enhance the retail role and function of the streets in the traditional core.
  • Consideration must be given to emerging retail trends and how the core retail area can be positioned to not just respond but to benefit from these trends.
  • The need for increased permeability between the traditional retail core and the newer south eastern expansion area

Limited retail is provided within the Carlow Environs area with residents served by Carlow Town, the Sandhills retail area and smaller neighbourhood centres at Askea and on the Tullow Road. Within Graiguecullen the Barrow Valley Retail Park contains convenience and other retail services.

Image of young woman choosing perfume from counter

Consolidation of larger scale retail provision within the zoned town centre areas is appropriate to maintain the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre. Smaller scale local shops / neighbourhood facilities will be considered as appropriate to service residential / employment neighbourhoods where proposed in the environs area where the proposal would not detract from the town centre and would be in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. The planning authority will implement the relevant provisions of the Retail Strategies as contained in the statutory land use plans as appropriate. It is important to develop quality commercial environments that will in turn improve the vibrancy and enhance traditional on street experiences in the town centre.


  • What policies should the Plan include to promote enterprise and employment?
  • What are the most optimal locations in the Joint Urban Area for additional employment and new enterprises?
  • What can the Plan do to promote and encourage tourism in the area?
  • What policies should be introduced to further support town centre retailing and commercial activities that enhance vitality and vibrancy of the town?