Kilkenny’s population in the 2016 Census was 99,232 persons, which was a 4% increase from the 2011 figure. The City’s population was 26,512, which was an increase of 8.5%.
Kilkenny works within a regional framework which sets out the targets considered necessary for each county. The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region is currently being prepared, in line with the recently published National Planning Framework (NPF). This will project what population Kilkenny will achieve to 2040. In the absence of a finalised RSES, a population projection has been estimated.
According to the NPF, the target for the Southern Region is that it will grow by 340,000 - 380,000 to 2040. This represents a range between 21-24% growth. Applying this to Kilkenny, the county is projected to grow by between 21,000-23,000 people to 2040. For 2026, this means that the population would be targeted to grow to between 107,000 and 108,000. This includes the large urban centres of Ferrybank and Kilkenny. Waterford City, including Ferrybank, is targeted to grow by between 50-60% from its current level of 54,000 to about 81,000 in 2040, and the settlement of Ferrybank will accommodate a proportionate share of this. Kilkenny city’s rate of growth is outstripping the county at present and it is targeted to grow to over 29,000 by 2026.
The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 introduced the requirement for an evidence based ‘Core Strategy’ to be included in County Development Plans. Under the Act, a Core Strategy focuses on:
- Defining a settlement hierarchy for the County that is consistent with the national and regional policy objectives (e.g. for housing and population targets).
- Transposing the prescribed housing and population targets set at County level for the rural and urban centres identified within the settlement hierarchy.
- Providing an evidence based rationale for the land proposed to be zoned for residential and mixed use development having regard to the capacity of existing zoned land and the phasing of development taking account of the location of public transport and services.
- Demonstrating how the Planning Authority has had regard to the statutory Retail Planning Guidelines in setting out objectives for retail development.
- The key purpose of core strategies is to ensure that local authorities identify and reserve an appropriate amount of land in the right locations to meet housing and population targets. While the Act does not expressly require core strategies to deal with other land uses such as employment and commercial zones, it has been the practice that local authorities do undertake an appropriate level of analysis to provide for such uses.
How and where we plan to meet our housing targets must be set out in the Plan’s Core Strategy and Housing Strategy. We need to ensure sufficient housing is available in the right places, with good infrastructure, services and amenities, if we are to improve the quality of life for our citizens. We must also provide for the right type and mix of housing to reflect the different requirements of all of our citizens which can change at the different stages of their lives. Kilkenny has a diverse housing stock located in a wide variety of areas, both urban and rural. The City, and the towns, villages and rural areas have their own character which influences where people choose to live. Providing an appropriate scale and type of housing development which respects and enhances the character of our urban and rural areas will be a key challenge.
The changing demographic profile of the County is illustrated on the chart below. The population has increased significantly in the over 45 age cohorts. This has implications for the type of services required presently and in future years e.g. in terms of demand for health and social services and diverse accommodation and one which we will address in the new Development Plan.
Comparison of the age profile of Co. Kilkenny between 2011 and 2016