4.3 Settlement Hierarchy

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4.3 Settlement Hierarchy

Within the RSES, the settlement hierarchy is set out as follows:

Table 4.3: Settlement Typology of RSES

Type of Centre


Policy Level

Metropolitan Area

Cork, Limerick, Waterford

NPF, RSES, MASP, Development Plan, Local Area Plan

Key Towns

Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Clonmel, Dungarvan, Gorey, Ennis, Thurles, Nenagh, Newcastle West, Tralee, Killarney, Mallow, Clonakilty.

RSES, Development Plans, Local Area Plans

Towns & Villages[1]

Towns and villages

of above 1,500. To be identified in Development Plans

Development Plans,

Local Area Plans

Rural Areas

Rural villages less than 1,500 and the wider rural region.

Development Plans,

Local Area Plans


Groupings of towns and villages (incl. cross

boundary) which share geographic, economic, resources and contribute specialisms which if combined provide a strategic opportunity to drive regional economy.


The RSES hierarchy is a framework based on the pillars of the three cities, supported by a network of strategically located Key Towns, towns and villages and rural areas.  The Key Towns identified have a very significant population scale and are major centres for delivery of public services, with large hospitals, third level institutions, courts, local and national government functions as well as economic and business roles and higher order retail functions.

Kilkenny City is the largest of these and the 2nd largest settlement in the South-East and the 4th largest settlement in the Southern Region with a population of 26,512 in 2016.  It is now the 8th largest employment centre (previously 9th in 2011) in the state[2].

The settlement hierarchy for the purposes of the Core Strategy is set out on Table 4.4 and illustrated on Figure 4.2, Core Strategy Map.

In deriving the core strategy, the following key metrics, inter alia were considered:

  • Designations under the NPF and RSES,
  • The existing core strategy in the 2014 – 2020 County Development Plan,
  • The retail strategy,
  • The 2016 Census of population

Table 4.4: County Settlement Hierarchy in accordance with NPF and RSES

Type of Urban Centre



Significant Key Town

Kilkenny City

Waterford Metropolitan Area (Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan)

Waterford (Ferrybank/Belview in Co.  Kilkenny)

Towns > 1,500 in population

Callan, Castlecomer, Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch, Thomastown, New Ross (Environs of in Co. Kilkenny)[3]

Rural Towns and Villages (22)

Ballyhale, Ballyragget, Bennettsbridge, Clogh-Chatsworth, Fiddown, Freshford, Goresbridge, Gowran, Inistioge, Johnstown, Kells, Kilmacow, Kilmoganny, Knocktopher, Moneenroe, Mooncoin, Mullinavat, Paulstown, Piltown, Slieverue, Stoneyford and Urlingford.


Rural Nodes and the wider rural area

Remainder of the county


[1] In identifying settlements under 1,500 as “rural” and above 1,500 as “urban”, the RSES reflects the CSO categorisation of settlements which is contained in the NPF.

[2] Southern Regional Assembly RSES p349

[3] A Local Area Plan for New Ross will to be prepared jointly with Wexford County Council.