4.6 Smaller Towns and Villages

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

4.6 Smaller Towns and Villages

The smaller towns and villages within the County need to be developed in a way that strengthens their role as local service centres whilst respecting their existing character. Achieving the right balance between encouraging development in smaller towns and villages and the scale and nature of such development is critical. It is important to ensure that new residential development in smaller towns and villages is of a design, layout, character and scale which fits well with the town or village involved and presents a high-quality living environment.

In the 2014 – 2020 Plan 14 such settlements were identified.  For this current Plan a total of 22 smaller settlements have been identified.  To promote the vitality and viability of these smaller settlements as rural service centres, it is an objective of the National Planning Framework (NPO 18b) to “develop a programme of new homes in small towns and small villages with local authorities and agencies such as Irish Water and local communities to provide serviced sites with the appropriate infrastructure to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages”.

In order to offer an effective alternative to the provision of single houses in surrounding un-serviced rural areas, proposals for developments with densities of up to 10 dwellings per hectare will be considered in smaller towns and villages where social services such as a school, church, pub etc. are available and engineering services are either available or can be provided by the relevant agencies within the lifetime of the plan. Individual houses are promoted and where a housing scheme is proposed, these will be proportionate to the scale of the settlement[1].  Housing development within the development boundary of the small towns included in Table 4.4 County Settlement Hierarchy will not be subject to the rural housing policy as outlined in Section 7.8 Rural Settlement Strategy.

The scale and density of development in these settlements will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Availability of infrastructure including appropriate social, waste water treatment facilities and water supply,
  • Contribution to the enhancement of the village form by reinforcing the street pattern or assisting in the redevelopment of backlands
  • Contribution to the protection of the architectural and environmental qualities of the village
  • Capacity of the existing services in the village to accommodate the proposed development.

Future growth in these smaller towns and villages will be incremental, small in scale and appropriate to the size, scale and character of the village. 

The Council will encourage development of economic activity, services and infrastructure provision in the smaller towns and villages of the county and allow for town renewal and serviced site housing provision in smaller towns and villages where services are available and/or planned, at a scale and character which is proportionate, in order to sustain and renew population and services in these areas.

Settlement boundaries have been drawn up having regard to the following considerations:

  • The need to provide a compact and accessible town in accordance with the principles of sustainable development,
  • Its population at the time of the 2016 Census,
  • The potential for lands to be at risk from flooding,
  • The location and capacity of existing engineering (water and wastewater) infrastructure,
  • Proximity to existing and potential community and commercial facilities and the need to encourage sustainable growth (schools, shop, church),
  • The need to offer location choice and housing mix,
  • The existing built environment and road infrastructure and local topography,
  • Linkages (transport) to other larger settlements,
  • Existing planning permissions.

The smaller settlements are identified in Table 4.4 County Settlement Hierarchy.

Each of these settlements are subject to a map, which depicts a settlement boundary.  These settlement boundaries define an area within which development will be encouraged.  Proposed development in these settlements will however have to have regard to the availability of infrastructure capacity of each respective settlement over the lifetime of the Plan. Accordingly, development proposals within the boundary will be considered on their merits against the policies and objectives contained in this core strategy and the Development Plan generally.

These settlements have been assigned proportionate growth targets for the purpose of this Core Strategy, using the CSO 2016 figures as a base.

The County’s Rural Housing Policy will not apply on zoned lands within a Development plan or any Local Area Plan. Similarly, the Rural Housing Policy will not apply to housing within any defined settlement boundary.  Where a settlement does not have a statutory Local Area Plan or a settlement boundary in existence at the time of this development plan, then for development management purposes, it will be considered as part of the County’s rural area i.e. the rural housing policy will apply.

The local authority will, if the need arises, prepare Local Area Plans or other appropriate planning framework documents for areas within the County whether urban or rural. Serviced Sites

For the District Towns and the smaller towns and villages, support is also provided for the development of a ‘New Homes in Small Towns and Villages’ initiative to provide services and serviced sites in rural settlements which is a policy objective of the NPF[2] and RSES[3].

The following incentives are designed to encourage the development of serviced sites within settlement boundaries:

  • Provision of services by agencies subject to budgetary constraints
  • Exclusion from the compliance requirements of the Rural Housing Policy for persons wishing to purchase services sites

The Council will proactively work with the respective agencies to prioritise services delivery in support of this initiative.


[1] In compliance with objective 18a of the NPF p73. “Support the proportionate growth of and appropriately designed development in rural towns that will contribute to their regeneration and renewal, including interventions in the public realm, the provision of amenities, the acquisition of sites and the provision of services.”

[2] NPO 18b page 73

[3] RPO  26g page 89



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