Thursday, 28 March 2019

Questions (215)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

215. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Meath and Louth county councils have adopted a local area plan for the area of interest that was the subject of the Drogheda boundary commission report published in 2017; if an implementation group has been formed by both councils to implement the proposals from the review; if he is satisfied with progress to date on developing a unified vision for the area that was subject of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14631/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The report of the Drogheda Boundary Committee was published in February 2017 and it recommended no change to the existing boundary, subject to the implementation of a programme of structured cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. Similar reports were produced at that time on Athlone, Carlow and Waterford.

Given the strategic importance of such towns and cities where development and population overspill across county boundaries has occurred, it is my intention to introduce statutory joint structures to address boundary issues. This would entail a framework of statutory requirements to deal with the development and other interests of the areas concerned, rather than alteration of county boundaries or reliance solely on existing inter-authority co-operation. This would mainly involve functions similar to those which might be performed through inter-authority arrangements but on a more comprehensive, permanent and formalised basis under primary legislation.

It is envisaged that such urban area structures would have responsibility for certain key strategic matters beyond the existing standard functions of local authorities, especially in relation to spatial and economic planning and development and in relation to transportation strategy, forward planning and land use designation, retail strategy, and other such matters as the relevant local authorities agree.

A specific local area plan has not been adopted for the cross-boundary area of Drogheda and, while an implementation group specifically targeting the Boundary Committee report is not established, there is strong ongoing cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. I have very recently met with the respective chief executives, and with chief executives from other local authorities with cross-boundary towns and cities, and I plan to make further progress on strengthened urban area structures for cross-boundary towns and cities in the coming months.