Chapter 1: Introduction and Context

Closed21 Jul, 2021, 9:00am - 1 Oct, 2021, 5:00pm

The Vision for County Carlow is to champion quality of life through local employment provision, high quality development, healthy placemaking and transformational regeneration, to grow and attract a diverse innovative economy, to support the transition to a low carbon climate resilient environment, to embrace inclusiveness and enhance our natural and built environment for future generations.

1.0  Introduction 

The County Development Plan guides future growth and development in the County. The new Carlow County Development Plan sets out the strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the County over the plan period from 2022 to 2028. It contains development management standards, policies and objectives and references statutory guidelines which will inform decision making over the period of the Plan. The approach is centred on the core principle of sustainability with a focus on regeneration, economic development supported by vibrant, liveable, climate resilient communities. This Plan is consistent with both the ‘National Planning Framework’ (2018) (NPF) and the ‘Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy’ (2020) (RSES).  

This Chapter sets out the legislative background to the Plan and the context in which the Plan is produced. The overarching Vision is underpinned by Strategic Objectives which inform policies and objectives throughout the Plan.  

1.1  Plan Making Process 

This Plan has been prepared following a period of consultation which took the form of public displays, information days, engagement with stakeholders and service providers, written submissions, briefing sessions for Elected Members, and the preparation of a Chief Executive’s Report on submissions received at the Pre-Draft stage. The process of reviewing the 2015-2021 County Development Plan and preparation of the new Plan formally commenced in June 2020 with an eight-week Pre-Draft public consultation phase. An ‘Issues paper’ ‘was prepared and widely circulated. Submissions were invited, and the Executive prepared a Chief Executive’s Report summarising these submissions and making recommendations on what should be contained in the Draft Plan. A special Council meeting was held with the Elected Members of the Council and a number of Directions were issued requesting strategic matters to be addressed in the Draft Plan.  

1.2  Legislative Background 

The Draft County Development Plan has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (‘The Act’). The legislative basis for the preparation and adoption of a Development Plan is set out in Sections 9 to 12 of The Act. Section 10(1) provides that the Development Plan shall set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and shall consist of a Written Statement and a Plan or Plans indicating the development objectives for the area. The Act sets out the mandatory requirements which must be included in a Development Plan and these include objectives for inter alia: the zoning of land; the provision of infrastructure; the conservation and protection of the environment; and, the integration of planning and sustainable development with the social, community and cultural requirements of the area and its population.  

Section 10(1A) of The Act provides that the Written Statement of the Development Plan shall include a Core Strategy which shows that the development objectives in the Plan are consistent, as far as practicable, with national and regional development objectives as set out in the NPF, the RSES and with Specific Planning Policy Requirements (SPPRs) set out in Section 28 Ministerial Guidelines. The requirement for the Development Plan to be consistent with inter alia the NPF, RSES and Section 28 Ministerial Guidelines is woven throughout the planning legislation that pertains to the review of an existing and the making of a new County Development Plan. Section 11(1A) of The Act states that the review of the Plan and preparation of the new Plan shall take account of the “statutory obligations” of any Local Authority in the area and any relevant policies or objectives for the time being of the Government or of any Minister of the Government. Section 12(11) of The Act refers to the making of the Development Plan and similarly states that in making the Plan that members shall be restricted to considering the proper planning and sustainable development of the area to which the Development Plan relates, the statutory obligations of any Local Authority in the area, and any relevant policies or objectives for the time being of the Government or any Minister of the Government.  

Section 28(1) of The Act provides that the Minister may, at any time, issue Guidelines to Planning Authorities under Section 28 of The Act regarding any of their functions and, as such, this Plan must be read in conjunction with any new Section 28 Guidelines that maybe published during the life of this Plan.  

In accordance with European and national legislation a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Plan; Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive; and a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment have been prepared, all of which informed the preparation of the County Development Plan. 

1.2.1  Strategic Environmental Assessment 

Environmental assessment is a procedure that ensures that the environmental implications of decisions are considered before such decisions are made. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the term which has been given to the environmental assessment of plans and programmes, which help determine the nature and location of individual projects taking place. SEA is a systematic process of predicting and evaluating the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a proposed plan or programme, in order to ensure that these effects are adequately addressed at the earliest stages of decision-making, in tandem with economic, social and other considerations. The SEA process was integrated into the preparation of the County Development Plan and the SEA Environmental Report is contained as a separate document accompanying the Plan (Appendix I). 

It is the policy of the Council to:  

SEA. P1: 

Implement the monitoring programme as set out in the SEA Environmental Report and Statement, in conjunction with the Regional Assembly and other sources as relevant. This will include the preparation of standalone SEA Monitoring Reports to accompany: 

  1. The report required of the Chief Executive under section 15(2) of the Act, including information in relation to progress on, and the results of, monitoring the significant environmental effects of implementation of the development plan; 
  2. In advance of the beginning of the review of the next County Development Plan (2028 – 2032) on the significant environmental effects of implementing this Plan. 

1.2.2  Appropriate Assessment 

In accordance with requirements under the EU Habitats Directive (43/92/EEC), the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and Section 177 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, the impacts of the policies and objectives of all statutory land use plans on certain sites designated for the protection of nature under European legislation, must be assessed as part of the preparation of the Plan. This process, known as Appropriate Assessment, is to determine whether or not the implementation of plan policies or objectives could have negative consequences for the habitats or species for which these sites are designated. Appropriate Assessment was undertaken as part of the plan-making process and a Natura Impact Report is contained as a separate document accompanying the Plan (Appendix II). 

1.2.3  Strategic Flood Assessment 

A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) is an area-wide assessment of the existing risks of flooding and the impact of those risks arising from proposed spatial planning decisions. The national Guidelines ‘The Planning System and Flood Risk Management’ (2009) state that Planning Authorities are required to introduce flood risk assessment as an integral and leading element of their Development Plan functions. Plans must establish the flood risk assessment requirements for their functional area. The Guidelines further state that flood risk management should be integrated into spatial planning policies at all levels to enhance certainty and clarity in the overall planning process. In conjunction with the SEA process, the Council carried out a SFRA of the County Development Plan. This SFRA is included as Appendix III of the Plan. 

1.3  Structure of the Plan  

The County Development Plan comprises a series of separate, but closely linked and interrelated elements. The Plan comprises two volumes: 

Volume 1:  Written Statement with accompanying maps 

Volume 2: Supporting Appendices  

1.3.1  Written Statement  

The Written Statement comprises the main policy document of the County Development Plan. In the event of any conflict or ambiguity between what is contained within the Written Statement and the supporting maps, the Written Statement will take precedence. The structure of the Written Statement is as follows: 



Chapter 1 

Introduction and Context

Chapter 2 

Core Strategy and Settlement Strategy 

Chapter 3 


Chapter 4 

Enterprise and Employment 

Chapter 5 

Sustainable Travel and Transport 

Chapter 6 

Infrastructure and Environmental Management 

Chapter 7 

Climate Action and Energy

Chapter 8 

Community Development 

Chapter 9 

Landscape and Green Infrastructure 

Chapter 10 

Natural and Built Heritage 

Chapter 11 

Tourism and Recreation 

Chapter 12 

Urban Design and Placemaking 

Chapter 13 

Rural Design Guide 

Chapter 14 

Rural Development 

Chapter 15 

Town and Village Plans / Settlement Boundaries 

Chapter 16 

Development Management Standards

Table 1.1: Layout of Plan  

1.3.2  Appendices 

The primary Written Statement is accompanied by a separate volume of Appendices (nos. I – XI) which incorporate a series of complementary and supporting documents, data-sets and guidelines that help inform and clarify the broader strategic context of the Written Statement. The Appendices of the Plan are as follows:  



Appendix I 

Strategic Environmental Assessment 

Appendix II 

Appropriate Assessment 

Appendix III 

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 

Appendix IV 

Housing Strategy / HNDA 

Appendix V 

Retail Strategy 

Appendix VI 

Renewable Energy Strategy 

Appendix VII 

Landscape Character Assessment 

Appendix VIII 

Record of Protected Structures 

Appendix IX 

Section 28 Statement 

Appendix X 

Infrastructure Assessment 

Appendix XI Policy Context
Table 1.2: Appendices 

1.4  Strategic Context 

Since the adoption of the 2015-2021 County Development Plan, there have been a number of legislative and policy changes in the area of planning, including the adoption of  The National Planning Framework and the  Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy setting out the regional framework for implementation and delivery of the NPF. The County Development Plan seeks to combine the overarching ‘top-down’ policy framework at the national and regional level with a ‘bottom-up’ approach to policy development at the local level. 


Fig. 1.1  Spatial Planning Hierarchy (NPF) 

1.4.1  National Planning Framework (NPF) 

The NPF sets out the Government’s high-level strategic vision for shaping future growth and development in Ireland up to the year 2040. The companion document, the National Development Plan, provides the accompanying investment strategy that aligns with the strategic objectives of the NPF. 

The NPF identifies a set of goals built around the themes of wellbeing, equality and opportunity. These are expressed as National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) and are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which underpin the overarching vision for the Country (See Fig. 1.2 National Strategic Outcomes).  

Fig 1.2: National Strategic Outcomes (Source NPF)

NPF- Policy 

It is the policy of the Council to: 

NPF. P1: Ensure consistency with and support the achievement of the National Strategic Outcomes and National Policy Objectives of the National Planning Framework. 

1.4.2  Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) 

The RSES for the Southern Region 2020-2032 seeks to implement the NPF at regional level and is based on a vision to:  

Nurture all places to realise their full potential; 

  • Protect and enhance the environment; 

  • Work to achieve economic prosperity and improve quality of life for all; 

  • Accommodate expanded growth and development in suitable locations; and 

  • Promote the region’s international reputation as one of Europe’s most creative, innovative ad greenest liveable regions.  

The RSES for the Southern Region aims to build upon the strengths and potential of the Region to become a more stable, productive, climate-resilient and desirable place for the benefit of the population. The RSES sets out 11 no. Strategy Statements which seek to build a strong, resilient and sustainable region (See Fig. 1.3 RSES Strategy Statement).  

RSES – Policy 

It is the policy of the Council to: 

RSES. P1: Ensure consistency with and support the achievement of the Regional Spatial Objectives (RSOs) and Regional Policy Objectives (RPOs) of the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.