The National Spatial Strategy

2002 - 2020

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Preparation of the NSS

Stage 2 - Research Trends Continued

The following are the most notable recent trends in this spatial structure.

  • The Greater Dublin Area (GDA) has experienced rapid development, which has driven much of the country's economic success in recent years and delivered vital national benefits.
  • The performance of the Greater Dublin Area is pivotal to the overall economic well-being of Ireland.
  • However, the Greater Dublin Area's pace and form of growth has resulted in a particularly heavy burden of development pressures, such as housing supply difficulties and traffic congestion, on the city and its surrounding area.
  • There is strong evidence that Dublin is becoming a "Dispersed City" demonstrated by the fact that the hi-tech industries located around the city's edges are drawing their workforces from places up to and beyond 80 kilometres away, but within about an hour's drive of peoples' workplaces.
  • Significant population growth has taken place in the Greater Dublin Area. Continuing population growth in the Area into the future will require planning and infrastructure responses based on a strategic approach that seeks to manage population growth more effectively.
  • Many other parts of the country have also advanced economically, but the rate of growth has not been as high as experienced in the Greater Dublin Area. There is a need for these areas to emulate the competitiveness that the Dublin area has achieved in other parts of the country in order to deliver a better spatial distribution of national economic and social development.

In rural areas, the pattern of change has varied. These variations have depended on interaction between:

  • The changing role and re-structuring of agriculture
  • The degree to which the rural economy is diversifying
  • Nearness to or remoteness from major urban areas
  • An area?s possession of natural resources, including high amenity landscapes.

The nature of rural change points to the need for tailor-made responses to the various development issues facing different types of rural areas.

Current trends in spatial development are likely to adversely affect more and more people's quality of life, the quality of the physical environment and overall national economic competitiveness. Some of these trends will and will add to regional and global environmental problems. For example, the manner in which some major urban areas, particularly Dublin, are developing is making the provision of necessary infrastructure such as public transport expensive and difficult. Coupled with this, the manner in which major economic development is tending to concentrate in the Greater Dublin Area means that the potential of other areas is systematically under-realised, particularly that of some of the regional cities.

The NSS research indicates that some of the consequences of current trends could become even more significant, in the light of the following projections.

  • The population of the State is growing. It is likely to increase by over half a million over the next 20 years, with a possibility that the population could rise by a significantly higher figure than that.
  • On the basis of recent trends, up to four-fifths of the population growth in the State could take place in or in areas adjoining the Greater Dublin Area over the next twenty years. With the exception of the West region, all other regions would experience further decline in their shares of the national population.
  • The number of cars using our roads could double over the period 1996 - 2016.
  • In relative terms, use of sustainable transport modes like walking, cycling and public transport is falling and could continue to fall.
  • A substantial amount of new house building is taking place outside urban areas. In many cases this tends to place greater distance between people and their work, increases dependence on the car, limits the effectiveness of public investment in providing utilities and services and threatens the quality of the rural environment in some areas.


Click here for Stage 3: Public Consultation

Back to Research Trends Part 1