The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published its latest WDC Insights Regional Growth- rural areas, towns and cities which is now available for download here.

It provides a short discussion of some of the points made in the WDC submission  to the consultation on the National Planning Framework (NPF) Ireland 2040 Our Plan: Issues and Choices about cities, towns and rural areas and the opportunities their development presents for Ireland’s economy and society as a whole.

  • The capital, smaller cities, towns of different sizes, villages and open countryside have distinctive roles to play in the national economy and, more importantly, as places for people to live, work and visit.  Recognising this, Ireland needs to enable all areas to more fully contribute to national growth, productivity and to its society.
  • The focus of much regional development discussion is on how cities drive regional development but we must not assume that development of key cities constitutes full regional development. All areas need to be the focus of development policy which should address the specific needs of each type of place.
  • Towns and villages are providing employment and services for people in their area and are active centres of local economic activity. Indeed while some are facing difficulties, others are thriving and providing many opportunities for people to live, work and do business.
  • While cities and towns are important to the functioning of regions, it should be remembered that more than half a million people are living in rural areas (in small settlements and open countryside) in the Western Region. These rural areas provide key resources essential to our economy and society.

It is important that the NPF and other policies are clearly focused on creating real opportunities for the people who live in the regions, whether in cities, towns or rural areas, and that these policies aim to improve economic and social opportunities as well as quality of life.

Helen McHenry