Section 1 Introduction

opendate_range12 Jan, 2021, 9:00am - 23 Mar, 2021, 5:00pm

1.0      INTRODUCTION

Towns and villages of Laois have a key economic and social function within the settlement hierarchy of this Plan. The objective of this settlement strategy is to support the sustainable growth of our towns and villages by identifying key growth factors that will allow each area to grow in a sustainable manner, supporting appropriate local employment opportunities and economic activity and building on the areas unique character and natural assets to develop thriving areas where people want to live. Investing in key areas to support regeneration such as town centre renewal is key in supporting the growth and viability of local centres.

The Settlement Hierarchy of towns and villages as determined in the Core Strategy – Chapter 2 of the Laois County Development 2021 – 2027, Volume 1, is indicated as follows:

Table 1.1: Laois County Settlement Hierarchy

SETTLEMENT TYPOLOGY

DESCRIPTION

SETTLEMENTS

KEY TOWNS

Large economically active service and/or county towns that provide employment for their surrounding areas and with high-quality transport links and the capacity to act as growth drivers to complement the Regional Growth Centres.

Portlaoise

Graiguecullen

SELF-SUSTAINING GROWTH TOWNS

Self-Sustaining Growth Towns with a moderate level of jobs and services – includes sub-county market towns and commuter towns with good transport links and capacity for continued commensurate growth to become more self- sustaining

Portarlington

SELF-SUSTAINING TOWNS

Self-Sustaining Towns with high levels of population growth and a weak employment base which are reliant on other areas for employment and/or services and which require targeted ‘catch up’ investment to become more self-sustaining.

Mountmellick

Abbeyleix

Stradbally

Mountrath

TOWNS AND VILLAGES

Towns and villages with local service and employment functions

Durrow

Rathdowney

Ballylinan

VILLAGES

(Pop > 500)

Villages that serve their local area

Clonaslee

Killenard

Ballyroan

Borris In Ossary

RURAL REMAINDER (including villages with population <500, rural settlements and open countryside)

1.1      COMPLIANCE WITH NATIONAL AND REGIONAL POLICY

This Settlement Strategy is informed by the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Eastern and Midlands Region(EMRA) Area.

1.2          National Planning Framework

As described in Chapter 1 of Volume of 1 of the Laois County Development Plan 2021 – 2027, Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching long-term policy platform to guide and manage the future growth and development of the country. The primary aim of Project Ireland 2040 is to improve the quality of life in Ireland for all its citizens by creating and promoting opportunities for people and protecting and enhancing our environment. In order to achieve this goal, the NPF contains a series of national policy objectives (NPOs), which set outs out the intentions of the plan within specific areas. Table 2 below outlines the NPOs which are most relevant to the preparation of Settlement Strategy.

Table 1.2: Compliance with NPF

THEME

NATIONAL POLICY OBJECTIVE (NPO)

SETTLEMENT PLANS

 

COMPACT GROWTH

 

NPO 3c: Deliver at least 30% of all new homes that are targeted in settlements other than the five Cities and their suburbs, within their existing built‐up footprints.

A substantial majority of the housing target will be delivered within the exiting footprint of the towns in accordance with CSO Census 2016 settlement boundaries.

STRONGER URBAN PLACES

NPO 4: Ensure the creation of attractive, liveable, well-designed, high quality urban places that are home to diverse and integrated communities that enjoy a high quality of life and well-being.

Plans focus on creating sustainable communities and taking account of rural nature of many settlements as well as urban generated development pressure.

NPO 6: Regenerate and rejuvenate cities, towns and villages of all types and scale as environmental assets, that can accommodate changing roles and functions, increased residential population and employment activity and enhanced levels of amenity and design quality, in order to sustainably influence and support their surrounding area.

Plans have been informed by an  ‘asset based approach’ to development which will seek to utilise the each settlement’s existing social, economic and environmental assets to drive the sustainable growth of the town.

 

NPO 7: Apply a tailored approach to urban development that will be linked to the Rural/Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.

Plans will identify a series of potential regeneration development projects that can be funded under the RRDF/URDF programme.

 

NPO 10: Regional and Local Authorities to identify and quantify locations for strategic employment development, where suitable, in urban and rural areas generally.

Strategic Employment Zones have been identified in the main urban centres such as Portlaoise, Graiguecullen, Portarlington, and in the Self Sustaining towns. Other locations such as Borris in Ossory and Ballybrittas have also been identified for economic growth given their strategic connectivity by virtue of the motorway infrastructure. 

DIVERSE RURAL PLACES

NPO 16: Target the reversal of rural decline in the core of small towns and villages through sustainable targeted measures that address vacant premises and deliver sustainable reuse and regeneration outcomes.

Each settlement is assessed for regeneration opportunities sites and support the reuse of vacant buildings by a targeted approach to vacancy

NPO 17: Enhance, integrate and protect the special physical, social, economic and cultural value of built heritage assets through appropriate and sensitive use now and for future generations.

 

Conservation and heritage-led regeneration policies included in the LAP for heritage assets.

NPO 18a: To support the proportionate growth of and appropriately designed development in rural towns that will contribute to their regeneration and renewal, including interventions in the public realm, the provision of amenities, the acquisition of sites and the provision of services.

A series of community plans have been prepared by communities in some fo the towns and villages which has informed this plan and its objectives.

NPO 18b: Develop a programme for new homes in small towns and villages’ with local authorities, public infrastructure agencies such as Irish Water and local communities to provide serviced sites with appropriate infrastructure to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.

Castletown in Co Laois has currently a scheme of affordable sites (LCC initiative) which is currently being completed. Another scheme of affordable sites has been granted permission in Killeen in the east of the County which provides a good alternative to rural housing.

 

A General guidance document  will be worked up with the necessary stakeholders to further this initiative.

NPO 21: Enhance the competitiveness of rural areas by supporting innovation in rural economic development and enterprise through the diversification of the rural economy into new sectors and services, including ICT based industries and those addressing climate change and sustainability.

The growth of the food economy in Laois and rural development supported by Laois Partnership. Examples of same are in the provision of commercial kitchens in Mountmellick together with ICT companies using the Beale Centre, the development of Bloom HQ in Mountrath and the network of remote working and co working spaces that have been rolled out throughout the county.

 

Within Portlaoise the Regional Enterprise funded “Cube” Development is specifically auctioned with addressing climate change initiatives and sustainability.

 

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

NPO 27: Ensure the integration of safe and convenient alternatives to the car into the design of our communities, by prioritising walking and cycling accessibility to both existing and proposed developments, and integrating physical activity facilities for all ages.

Plan promotes an age-friendly and accessible town which seeks universal accessibility and prioritises the development sustainable modes of travel.

NPO 35: Increase residential density in settlements, through a range of measures including reductions in vacancy, reuse of existing buildings, infill development schemes, area or site-based regeneration and increased building heights.

The settlement maps have been prepared having regard to  sustainable densities in accordance with Section 28 ministerial guidelines. They also have been informed by their character and what is appropriate to each level of settlement on the hierarchy and the services and amenities that exist to service them.

 

CLIMATE RESILIENCE

NPO 53: Support the circular and bio economy including in particular through greater efficiency in land management, greater use of renewable resources and by reducing the rate of land use change from urban sprawl and new development.

LAP and the Urban Regeneration Framework includes a targeted active land management provisions supported by a number of specific objectives.

NPO 54: Reduce our carbon footprint by integrating climate action into the planning system in support of national targets for climate policy mitigation and adaptation objectives, as well as targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Plan integrates national policies on climate action by promoting compact growth, sustainable movement and other adaption/mitigation measures.

NPO 58: Integrated planning for green infrastructure and ecosystem services will be incorporated into the preparation of statutory land use plans.

Identification of a comprehensive green infrastructure network to be protected and enhanced throughout the life of the plan.

 

 

 

1.3          Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy

The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Eastern and Midland Region 2019-2031 sets out a framework to direct future growth of the region over the medium to long term. The Strategy is underpinned by key people-focused principles that reflect the three pillars of sustainability – Healthy Place Making, Climate Action and Economic Opportunity.  Each settlement is underpinned by the following key overarching objectives. These objectives are in addition to those included in the Written Statement in Volume One of the Laois County Development Plan. The objectives of Volume One should also be considered for all new development within the County.

1.3.1      Sustainable Communities

The plan supports new residential development which should respect the character and form of each village. The development strategy for each town and village is to support new housing and population growth, providing a viable alternative to rural one-off housing within the surrounding hinterland and contributing to the principle of compact growth. Building sustainable communities will comprise of developing a mix of housing types, densities and tenure.

High quality design, incorporation of the principles of place-making, green infrastructure, permeability and connectivity alongside the integration of community and recreation facilities is paramount.

Fundamental to each village is the ability to harness and support rural economies and diversification to maximize employment opportunities in areas such as agri-business, tourism, renewable energy and food production. The provision of physical support infrastructure is also vitally important, such as water, waste water and communication infrastructure.

1.3.2      Regeneration and Place Making

Regeneration of the village and town centres is fundamental to sustaining a vibrant community. Many of the settlements throughout the County have seen some level of decline and this Plan aims to bring these centres back to life. By identifying key sites for regeneration, objectives will be included to ensure key funding opportunities will be supported and harnessed.

1.3.3      Climate Resilience

Development in each village will build climate resilence by supporting the need to conserve and enhance biodiversity, protect habitats, species, landscapes and ecosystems to support the sustainable management of our natural resources.

SETTLEMENT STRATEGY POLICY OBJECTIVES

SS 1

Promote residential growth, local employment, services and sustainable transport options to enable each settlement to become more self-sustaining.

SS 2

Provide for new residential developments in accordance with the requirements of the Housing and Core Strategy which is compatible with the density of development in each settlement.

SS 3

Require that an appropriate mix of housing type, tenure, density and size is provided in all new residential development to meet the needs of the population as indicated in the Core Strategy.

SS 4

Require proposals for development to demonstrate how they integrate/respond to Green Infrastructure and contribute to the development and protection of overall Green Infrastructure assets

SS 5

Provide for the expansion and development of educational, social, community and recreational facilities in each settlement.

SS 6

Support the development of green walking and cycling routes within the village and to the rural hinterlands including areas of interest and attractions.

SS 7

Support and encourage residential development on under-utilised land and/or vacant lands including ‘infill’ and ‘brownfield’ sites, subject to a high standard of design and layout being achieved

SS 8

Provide opportunities for the expansion of the employment base in each village.

SS 9

Support proposals to further develop and strengthen the tourism potential of each village.

SS 10

Support economic rural diversification to maximize opportunities in emerging sectors such as agri-business, renewable energy, tourism and forestry.

SS 11

Liaise with Irish Water to endeavour to provide adequate water services to meet the development needs of each village within the Plan period

SS 12

Support the roll out of the National Broadband Plan and broadband infrastructure within the County.

SS 13

Support environmental and public realm enhancements in the town together with measures to visually enhance the built form and streetscape.

SS 14

Facilitate public realm improvement works for villages, focusing on traffic-calming to achieve better balance between the needs of the pedestrians / cyclists / public transport and those of the private car and give better definition and legibility to the village core.

SS 15

Design the Public Realm of Towns and Villages to ensure universal access for all

SS 16

Ensure new development compliments and enhances the townscape, uses quality building materials and employs best conservation practice in relation to protected structures

SS 17

Ensure that any development that has the potential to impact on the European Sites is subject to Appropriate Assessment in accordance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.

SS 18

Implement Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems where appropriate.

SS 19

Ensure full compliance with all existing licenses and with measures prescribed under the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018 - 2021.

SS 20

Ensure that any flood defense works or river channel maintenance is assessed according to Article 6 of the Habitats Directive and carried out in accordance with the NPWS and IFI authorization.

SS 21

Avoid encroachment on European Sites and implement buffer zone of 10-30m where feasible or as determined following consultation with the Inland Fisheries.

SS 22

Ensure that groundwater abstractions that form part of planning applications do not negatively impact on the hydrology of the adjacent esker and bog habitats.

SS 23

All development shall comply with Draft  Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and development shall accord with the provision of The Planning System and Flood Risk Management - Guidelines for Planning Authorities