7. 1 Introduction
Rural areas of County Kilkenny are home to a diverse range of activities including all those associated with agriculture, established villages, rural housing, recreation and tourism. The results of the 2016 Census show that County Kilkenny is still predominantly a rural county. Sixty percent of the county’s population live in rural areas outside Kilkenny city, the four District Towns and Ferrybank. In 2016 a total of 8.0% of Kilkenny’s labour force was classified into Broad Industrial Group A – Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, compared with 4.4% nationally.
The Council recognises that Kilkenny has a long tradition of people living in rural areas. It is the Council’s intention to support the continued development of Kilkenny’s rural areas in a way that is sustainable. This Chapter sets out the policies required for rural Kilkenny to achieve that in a manner that is consistent with the guidance, strategies and policies at National and Regional level.
Rural communities across Kilkenny function well beyond their immediate catchments and have a strong interrelationship with adjacent towns and villages, often beyond the county boundary.
The rural development strategy is based on National Planning Objectives 15 to 25 as contained in the National Planning Framework (NPF), which aims to promote rural growth and arrest rural decline whilst sustaining vibrant rural communities. This chapter is also based on other higher level policy documents such as the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region (RSES), Foodwise 2025, Action Plan for Rural Development 2017, the CEDRA report, and Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines for Planning Authorities.
The RSES reflects the NPF statement that the rural countryside “is and will continue to be, a living and lived-in landscape focusing on the requirements of rural economies and rural communities, based on agriculture, forestry, tourism and rural enterprise, while at the same time avoiding ribbon and over-spill development from urban areas and protecting environmental qualities”.
The Council supports the implementation of all National and Regional Objectives at local level and it is the broad objective of the Council’s rural development strategy to provide for sustainable rural communities without compromising the physical, environmental, natural or heritage resources of the county.
This broad objective is underpinned by the following detailed policy objectives:
- Promote the sustainable development of rural areas
- Promote sustainable settlement patterns
- Protect the quality and character of rural areas
- Protect the quality of the environment, including the prevention, limitation, abatement and/or reduction of environmental pollution and the protection of waters, groundwater and the atmosphere
- Protect features of the landscape and areas of major importance for biodiversity
- Protect the character of the landscape, including views and prospects listed in this Plan and the amenities of places and features of natural beauty or interest.
- Protect natural resources such as minerals and construction aggregates
- Protect areas where sustainable energy production is feasible, such as high lying areas where wind energy production is acceptable in principle.
The Council recognises the need to manage rural change and to guide rural development and will work to:
- Maintain and enhance the existing rural community to ensure vibrant sustainable rural areas,
- Improve the attractiveness of the built environment in rural towns and villages as places in which to work and live and as locations for industry, services and tourism investment.
- Enhance connectivity throughout rural areas in order to promote sustainable settlement, economic and social activity and tourism.
- Ensure that the rural environment will be respected and that development in rural areas will take place in a sustainable manner
- Promote a broad concept of rural development and not one based solely on agriculture or other dominant natural resource and encourage the sustainable development of resources in such sectors as agriculture, tourism including agri-tourism, forestry, farm diversification, and renewable energy resources.
 CSO 2016, Deducting the population for Large Urban settlements with populations predominantly over 1500 a per the NPF classification (Callan, Castlecomer, Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh and Ferrybank) from the County’s total population
 National Planning Framework pp 71-79
 Southern Regional Assembly- Regional spatial and Economic Strategy
 The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA)