I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 119 together.
The National Planning Framework (NPF), titled Ireland 2040 - Our Plan, will set a new long-term strategic planning and investment context for Ireland over the next 20 years. It will outline a high-level, national vision for Ireland for 2040 and will provide the framework and principles to manage future population and economic growth over the next 20 years (catering for 1 million extra people, 600,000 extra jobs and over 500,000 extra homes).
The forthcoming NPF is about empowering all areas to play their distinct roles in securing overall optimal national and regional development, and sets out a growth strategy to help achieve this. In doing so, the NPF presents a long-term framework that sets out how Ireland can move away from the ‘business as usual’ pattern of development.
In setting out a context for targeting future growth, the Framework does not seek to cap or limit the potential of places but to enable a co-ordinated and plan-led, rather than development-led, approach to their progression. The NPF identifies the need for a strategic strengthening of Ireland’s overall urban structure, building on the recently published ESRI research paper, entitled Prospects for Irish Regions and Counties: Scenarios and Implications .
Importantly, where a settlement is not specifically identified or referenced in the Framework, there is no intention to preclude such settlements from future growth or investment. Such issues will be further considered at a regional scale as part of the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies and at the local scale as part of the City and County Development Plan process and Local Economic and Community Plans, consistent with the general targeted pattern of development of the NPF.
Furthermore, the general targeted pattern of development and growth under the NPF does not mean that individual settlements or rural areas cannot exceed the targeted rate of growth, rather that not every place can exceed the targeted growth rate, which needs to be balanced on a regional and county basis.
My Department has engaged regularly with the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) throughout all stages of the preparation of the NPF, as well as with a wide range of other stakeholders. Over 1,000 submissions were received by my Department in the context of the draft NPF and all of these submissions, including the matters raised by the NWRA, will be considered in completing the final NPF.