The National Planning Framework (NPF) was published by Government on 16 February 2018, alongside the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040.
The NPF sets out an ambitious high-level, national vision for Ireland for 2040, and provides the framework and principles to manage future population and economic growth over the next 20 years (catering for around 1 million extra people, 660,000 extra jobs and 550,000 extra homes).
The framework will be followed by three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies, being prepared by the Regional Assemblies over the course of 2018, which will link strategic planning and investment at the national level with the physical planning and local economic and community development functions of local authorities.
The NPF places a strong emphasis on maintaining the fabric of our rural communities, supporting the growth of rural towns while recognising the need for the open countryside to continue to be a living and lived-in landscape, and investing to support job creation. The NPF is a national plan, with a high-level ambition of creating a single vision, a shared set of goals for every community across the country, and to deliver on these in a way that makes sense for our communities, rural and urban alike.
In addition, the Action Plan for Rural Development, published on 23 January 2017, takes a whole-of-Government approach, led by my colleague, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, to the economic and social development of rural Ireland and will act as an overarching structure for the co-ordination and implementation of rural initiatives across Government Departments and other public bodies.
Section 4.3 of the National Development Plan commits the Government to the next stage of the restoration of the Ulster Canal in County Monaghan, while the NPF recognises the potential role of greenways such as the Ulster Canal Greenway for an enhanced tourism offering throughout the border area.