- How can the JULAP assist in meeting community infrastructure needs?
- How can the value of existing community facilities be maximised?
- What policies should be included in the JULAP to support the delivery of education, healthcare and childcare facilities?
- How can the JULAP assist in promoting social inclusion?
9. Sustainable Communities
The creation of healthy, inclusive, and vibrant communities, with a focus on sustainability and accessibility, is central to achieving a high quality of life for all residents of Carlow-Graiguecullen. The provision of and the availability of access to, community services and social infrastructure, including recreational facilities, is integral to societal well-being and health, to social inclusion, and ultimately to fostering sustainable communities and the delivery of successful places.
Promoting and supporting social inclusion and community participation in the Joint Urban Area will be a key aim of the JULAP. Social inclusion includes an emphasis on ensuring all environments, whether living, working or recreational, are designed and maintained in a manner that everyone, regardless of background or circumstances, can achieve equality of access to the services and facilities they need to achieve their potential in life.
Open Space & Recreation
The natural and built assets of the Joint Urban Area, which attract tourists to the area, are also the foundations upon which infrastructure and facilities for recreation and amenity are based. The availability of such infrastructure and facilities makes a significant contribution to the physical health and overall well-being of communities. Established and key natural assets such as the River Barrow are supplemented by the provision of built facilities such as walking and cycling paths, open spaces, playgrounds, and playing fields. Open spaces have a particularly important role in built up urban areas, for biodiversity, the enhancement of neighbourhoods, and for recreation and amenity.
Fig. 5: Elements Supporting Quality of Life (Source: National Planning Framework)’
The Joint Urban Area has a number of purpose-built sporting and recreation facilities, which are provided through a mix of public, private, third level, school, community facilities, and voluntary organisations. These facilities serve a range of sports, including GAA, soccer, swimming, rowing, tennis, golf, gyms and athletics. The natural and built environment of the area also supports other sports and leisure activities such as walking, jogging, cycling and fishing. The Local Area Plan shall seek to facilitate and support this active sports sector for Carlow-Graiguecullen, including increased participation and good quality sustainable facilities.
Educational facilities are a key part of social and community infrastructure and act as an anchor to wider social and community facilities in Carlow-Graiguecullen. The Greater Urban Area is served by 11 primary schools and 6 secondary schools. An educational facility for autism and complex needs has also been permitted on the outskirts of Graiguecullen. Carlow and Laois County Councils will liaise with the Department of Education in relation to any requirements for additional school facilities.
Carlow has the significant benefit of having two 3rd level institutions, the South East Technological University (SETU) and Carlow College St. Patrick’s. The role of SETU as part of a multi-campus technological university will support the provision of internationally recognised higher education and research opportunities and the development of enterprise and industry in the Greater Urban Area. Separately, Carlow Institute of Further Education and Training off the Kilkenny Road in Carlow is also the largest provider of further education and training courses in the southeast region.
The provision of childcare facilities is essential to meet the needs of the residents of Carlow-Graiguecullen. It is recognised as a key piece of social infrastructure that enables people to participate more fully in society and can make a significant contribution to the early years of childhood development. Increasing workforce participation, as well as changing lifestyles, has increased the demand for childcare facilities in communities.
Carlow and Laois County Councils role in relation to childcare facilities is in implementing national guidelines and local policies and in ensuring sufficient childcare facilities are provided alongside new development as appropriate. Facilities must be suitably located, of a high quality, inclusive of all children, including children with disabilities or special needs.
Healthcare facilities are essential to ensure that the residents of Carlow-Graiguecullen have access to the care that they need. The provision of public health care services is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The primary role of Carlow and Laois County Councils in healthcare provision is to ensure there are adequate lands available in the JULAP to provide for new healthcare facilities and the expansion or adaptation of existing facilities.
Arts and Culture
The arts and culture sector is a vibrant element of social life in Carlow-Graiguecullen, impacting across a wide range of areas from tourism to cultural development. The developing cultural quarter in Carlow Town includes the VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art and George Bernard Shaw Theatre.
The JULAP will incorporate policy that supports and promotes opportunities for everyone to participate in the arts and cultural life of Carlow-Graiguecullen, by facilitating the provision of well-managed sustainable infrastructure and by adopting a flexible approach to the incorporation of arts and cultural facilities in the development or refurbishment of community facilities.
A wide range of services are provided by Carlow Central Library in Carlow Town, including access to technology, e-services, children’s services, special collections, local studies, genealogy and archives, community information, lifelong learning initiatives, and regular events and programmes. The redevelopment and extension of Carlow Central Library, which serves residents of both Carlow and Graiguecullen, is a priority of Carlow County Council.
Carlow Fire and Rescue Service operates out of the Fire Service Headquarters, which is strategically located in Carlow Town.
Other local services such as small shops, post offices and public houses provide an important service for communities and their retention is an important consideration in the sustainable development of communities.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER