The 2002 National Spatial Strategy (NSS) was Ireland's first national strategic spatial planning framework. It provides 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 nine gateway cities and towns, and nine hub towns, together with complementary policies to activate the potential for lasting economic development in their hinterlands and wider regions. The NSS serves as a strategic context for spatial planning in Ireland by regional authorities, in their regional planning guidelines role, and for planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála in their statutory planning functions. It also seeks to influence investment priorities particularly in transport, housing, water services, communications, energy, health and education infrastructure.
While the existing NSS remains in place, together with Minister Hogan, I have recently established 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 a successor to the current NSS. I expect to receive their report in the coming months following which I will bring proposals to Government on the roadmap to develop a successor NSS that will take account, inter alia, of our significantly changed economic circumstances and to contribute to sustainable national recovery. The new strategy is expected to be in place in 2015.