1. Introduction

Closed22 Dec, 2020, 09:00 - 12 Mar, 2021, 17:00

1. Introduction

The City of Kilkenny has a rich and varied history.  It is known as the medieval capital of Ireland. Founded over one thousand years ago, its influences are Norman, Medieval, Renaissance, Victorian and modern.  At one stage Kilkenny was the Capital of Ireland during the period 1640 to 1649.  Kilkenny retains many buildings from the early centuries of its existence. The Round Tower at St. Canice’s is at least 900 years old; the Talbot Tower was built around 1260; there are five medieval churches dating from the 13th century; Rothe house is the best known of a series of merchants’ houses from the late 16th and early 17th centuries; and a number of fine Georgian houses are to be seen on its streets. The two most prominent and historically important buildings in the city are Kilkenny Castle, and St. Canice’s Cathedral. It is unique among Irish regional towns; managing to maintain a vibrancy and balance between the needs of development and the protection of the basic fabric of its historic layout which has remained unchanged for centuries.

This Development Plan emphasises the sustainable economic and physical development of the city in a compact form, combined with efficient transport links between the various land uses such as employment, education and residential, with strong policies for the conservation and protection of the natural and built environment and ensuring a good quality life for its inhabitants.

In preparing this Volume 2, City Plan, the Council had regard to relevant national and regional plans, policies and strategies which relate to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.  The plan provides for the mandatory objectives which are to be included in Development Plans as set out in the Planning and Development Acts. ​​​​​​


1.1 Structure of the Plan

Volume 1 has set out the overarching policy direction for the spatial and economic development of the City and County.  In so doing it has had regard to the national and regional policy context in terms of climate change, settlement patterns and potential population growth targets.

Volume 2 is intended to deal with Kilkenny City as an entity in itself and in particular the more fine-grained details that need to be addressed exclusively for the City.

Volume 2 aims to avoid unnecessary duplication of text on statutory obligations, national and regional policy contexts, such as Appropriate Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Ministerial guidance.  Policies and objectives already stated in Volume 1 are not restated in Volume 2 except where it is necessary to supplement and expand on matters relating to the City.  Objectives, and the policy and development management requirements set out in Volume 1 apply to the City unless it is specifically addressed in this Volume for the City.

Volume 2 should be read in conjunction with Volume 1, and cross references will appear as relevant.  Where the City has particular Objectives, Development Management considerations and requirements these will be set out in Volume 2.  However, if a particular policy/objective is not included in Volume 2, the relevant section of Volume 1 will be applied as appropriate.  Please see Volume 1, Section 1.5 Plan Structure.   

The entire Plan (Volumes 1 and 2) is a statement of Council policy. The Council will aim to implement all the provisions of this Plan, subject to the availability of resources.


C1A        To implement the Development Management Requirements set out in Volume 2 for Kilkenny City or as otherwise as set out in Volume 1 as appropriate.


1.2 Climate change

Chapter 2 of Volume 1, Climate Change, deals extensively with the incorporation of Climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into the City and County Development Plan.  Volume 1 is the overarching document in relation to policy.  This Volume 2 also has the climate change mitigation and adaptation measures embedded into its policies and objectives. 


1.3 Kilkenny City in Context

Kilkenny City is the largest settlement in the County.  It is designated as a significant Key Town in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region.  Kilkenny City is the 2nd largest settlement in the South-East and 4th largest settlement in the Southern Region with a population of 26,512 (2016) and is now the 8th largest employment centre (previously 9th in 2011) in the state[1].  It has a central location within the south east with good road and rail links to Dublin and Waterford and other key settlements.  The City is self-sustaining regional economic driver with a significant zone of influence on the Dublin – Carlow-Kilkenny-Waterford M9 Road/Rail Axis.


1.4 Kilkenny City: The Ambition

This plan provides a vision and direction for the City to continue to evolve and grow.  It provides the statutory context for guiding development, in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The ambition is to grow the City to achieve the targets set out under the RSES through:

  •  a compact form of development
  • the 4 neighbourhood model and City centre
  • the 10-minute city concept[2]

1.5 Demographic and Socio-Economic Trends in Kilkenny City

1.5.1 Population trends

Kilkenny City recorded a population of 26,512 in 2016 which is an increase of 2,089 (8.6%) over the population recorded in 2011. 

Table 1.1 Recorded population 2002 - 2016






Kilkenny County





Kilkenny City





An increase of 2,089 persons was recorded in the intercensal period 2011 to 2016 which compares well with the 2,244 persons recorded in the period 2006 to 2011.  Overall in the period 2002 to 2016, the city increased by 5,777 persons which is a 27% increase on the 2002 figure.  This is higher than the gross County figure and shows that the pace of growth in the City has been at a faster rate than the county as a whole. 

​​​​​​​1.5.2 Household Occupancy

Kilkenny City’s household occupancy in 2016 was on average 2.57 persons per household. The distribution of household occupancy in terms of the CSO Small Areas is shown in Figure CS1 below. Most of the City is shown to be in the 2-3 persons per household with pockets of 3-4 persons and less than 2 persons per household.  As Figure CS1 shows, in the rural area around the city, household size is in the 3 – 4 persons per household mainly.

Figure CS1: Household Occupancy in Kilkenny City


​​​​​​​1.6 Kilkenny City’s profile

Kilkenny remains buoyant as the 8th largest employment centre in the State with strong performance in agri-business, finance and tourism/hospitality.

Kilkenny is host to a sizeable portfolio of international financial services companies and has strong activity in the future growth sectors of Fintech/Regtech/Insurtech and the global payments sector. It plays a critical role as a central location within the Ireland South East financial services cluster with key companies including State Street, Taxback Group, Carne Group and VHI.

Kilkenny is home to the national headquarters of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. The city’s reputation as a centre for creativity and design thinking continues to be enhanced with the expansion of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios; events such as the Tech Thursday Kilkenny, Kilkenomics, and Kilkenny Animated; and the development of the Abbey Quarter which will be an attractive destination for exciting and innovative companies in the design sector. 

Kilkenny has a well-developed tourism industry, with a range of attractions and activities to suit the holiday/visitor market.  Kilkenny has earned a positive reputation over the years as a place where heritage is valued, and where standards are consistently high.

Kilkenny continues to set the standard for heritage tourism in Ireland, and has long promoted high standards of public realm presentation. Investment in the public realm pays dividends, and the long record of Tidy Towns awards are a direct result of high public realm presentation standards. In addition to public infrastructure, Kilkenny has seen significant private investment in attractions such as the Smithwick’s Experience along the Medieval Mile and venues such as The Hub at Cillín Hill. 

The new Medieval Mile Museum is evidence of the fruitful synergies which can be achieved and there is potential for further enhancement in the future with the recently opened Butler Gallery in the former Evan’s Home.

Kilkenny has a central location in the south east with good road and rail links to Dublin and other key settlements.

It is a growing Regional Centre for Higher Education and Research with TSSG[3], the National Crafts Council of Ireland Level 8 design courses, the proposed development of the multi-campus Technological University of the South-East (TUSE) the Centre for Design in partnership with the Institute of Technology Carlow and the Precision Agriculture Centre of Excellence (PACE) established in Kilkenny city through Waterford Institute of Technology with assistance from Kilkenny County Council.    

Development of the ‘Medieval Mile’, which brings together public realm improvements from the Castle and Parade through to Irishtown facilitating the various attractions along it, is an example of place-making and the benefits that accrue to residents, visitors and workers alike.

The city has a long track record in urban regeneration and compact growth, including the very significant development of the Abbey Quarter (former Smithwick’s Brewery site).

Recreational assets of the Castle Park linked to the River Nore walking route and development of other walking, cycling and recreational around the City are important additions to the City’s overall profile. 


​​​​​​​1.6.1 Physical Development Trends

Kilkenny City has performed well, against the metrics of population and employment with its population still expanding at a rate slightly above the national average and an increase in employment. (see Section 3.1 Population Trends, in Volume 1). 

Physical infrastructure has been delivered and improved during the 2014 – 2020 plan period, including:

  • The Central Access Scheme and St. Francis Bridge over the River Nore,
  • Commencement of works on the Abbey Quarter, including commencement of the renovation of the Brewhouse, the Brewhouse Square and the linear park along the River Nore,
  • The redevelopment of St. Mary’s Church to accommodate the Medieval Mile Museum,
  • The redevelopment of Evans Home to accommodate the Butler Gallery,
  • Public Realm improvements along the Medieval Mile and Abbey Quarter.

In Kilkenny City a substantial investment in tourism development has been approved through the development of the Medieval Mile project which has seen investment in the public realm between Kilkenny Castle and St Canice’s Cathedral, the restoration of St Mary’s Church (now the Medieval Mile Museum), the completion and opening of the new Butler Gallery at the former Evan’s Home and the further development of the linear walk along the River Nore in the Abbey Quarter.

The development of the new neighbourhood at the Breagagh Valley (formerly The Western Environs) on the western side of the City is on-going with the construction of a new access road and associated services to facilitate the opening of lands.  Two new secondary schools have been committed to for the area through the Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board and these are currently at design stage. There is also a commitment by the Department of Education and Skills for the provision of a new primary school for the Breagagh Valley.  This area will see development of these facilities and housing through this Plan period to 2027 and beyond.

The relocation of the CBS secondary school to the Loughmacask area is at design stage and will be completed within this plan period.​​​​​​​

1.7 Key Strategic issues for Kilkenny City

Key strategic issues for the city over the plan period are identified as follows:

1.            To consolidate and strengthen the role of Kilkenny City as a self-sustaining Key Town and regional economic driver on the Dublin – Carlow-Kilkenny Waterford M9 Road/Rail Axis.

2.            To deliver compact growth in the expansion of the City with a minimum of 30% of the growth within the existing built up footprint of the City[4], to maximise return on State investment in infrastructure, and applying active land management measures such as the Vacant Site Levy derelict sites to maximise the use of under-utilised land and buildings.

3.            To strengthen investment in existing rail infrastructure for improved infrastructure and services in order to provide quality levels of safety, service, accessibility and connectivity including improved frequency and journey times.

4.            To strengthen the Education, Research and Innovation capacity of Kilkenny city with the development of a Campus for the Technical University of the South East (TUSE).

5.            To support urban regeneration through investment in the Abbey Quarter & other initiatives to improve the Public Realm and regenerate underused land and buildings in the City.

6.            To deliver investment in sustainable transport measures through a Local Transport Plan including continued development of the City Bus Services with walking and cycling infrastructure in support of the Compact ‘10-minute city’ concept.

7.            To progress the delivery of the northern extension of the ring road from the N77 Castlecomer Road to the R693 Freshford Road.

8.            Facilitating the recovery from the impacts of Covid -19 of the Tourism sector in the city and county and further development of the tourism product as a ‘Hero site’ within Fáilte Ireland’s branding of Ireland’s Ancient East.

9.            Maintain the quality of life offer in Kilkenny City which is renowned, as evidenced in its population growth which has exceeded the national average over the period 2006 – 2016.


[1] Southern Regional Assembly Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy page 349

[2] The concept of the ten minute city is that residents of the city can access the local services they require such as shops, schools, or local parks within 10 minutes of active or public transport. ​​​​​​​

[3] TSSG with WIT

[4] Footprint as defined by the CSO 2016 census



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