City 1. Introduction

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. 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 sustainable economic development of the city into the future while seeking to and balance the needs for redevelopment, expansion and growth in the environs with strong policies for the conservation and protection of the natural and built environment and ensuring a good quality life for its inhabitants.

It is the main public statement of planning policies for the development of Kilkenny City & Environs as adopted by Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny County Council (hereafter referred to as the Council(s)).  It provides a vision and direction for the City & Environs to continue to evolve, and gives the statutory context for guiding development, in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

In preparing this City and Environs draft Development Plan the Councils had regard to relevant national 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       Legislative Framework

This Draft Development Plan is prepared jointly by the Councils in accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2011 and continues the tradition of planning for the City and Environs as a single entity.  In the remainder of the plan the word ‘city’ will be used to refer to the city and environs area, which is the physical extent of the plan area.

The Planning and Development Act requires that a planning authority makes a development plan every six years which comprises of a written statement and accompanying maps that give a graphic representation of the objectives contained in the Plan.


1.2       Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the formal, systematic evaluation of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme before the decision is made to adopt the plan or programme. The purpose is to “provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development[1]

In accordance with European Directive 2001/42/EC, this draft Development Plan is the subject of SEA.

1.3       Appropriate Assessment

Article 6(3) of European Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive) requires competent authorities to undertake an Appropriate Assessment of any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a Natura 2000 site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects.

The Councils are the competent authorities and an appropriate assessment has been carried out for the draft Plan in line with the Department’s Guidance on Appropriate Assessment[2].

All plans, programmes and projects being carried out by public or private organisations and individuals need to be screened for any potential impact on Natura 2000 sites.

 Appropriate Assessment means an assessment, based on best scientific knowledge, of the potential impacts of a plan or project, wherever located, on the conservation objectives of any Natura 2000 site and the inclusion, where necessary, of mitigation or avoidance measures to preclude negative effects. The impacts assessed must include the indirect and cumulative impacts of the plan or project.  Therefore whether a plan or project is located within, or is at a geographically remote area from a Natura 2000 site, if significant impacts cannot be ruled out then the plan or project must be subject to an appropriate assessment. 

Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive and Section 177 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), require that any plan or project with the potential to impact on the integrity of a Natura 2000 site must be screened to determine if appropriate assessment of the plan or project is  required.  In the event that the screening indicates that potential significant impacts cannot be ruled out then the plan or project will require an appropriate assessment.



·         To implement the provisions of Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the EU Habitats Directive.

·         To ensure that any plan or project within the functional area of the Planning Authority is subject to appropriate assessment in accordance with the Guidance Appropriate Assessment of Plans and Projects in Ireland – Guidance for Planning Authorities, 2009[3] and is assessed in accordance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive in order to avoid adverse impacts on the integrity and conservation objectives of the site.


These objectives will apply to all plans and projects whether public or private and across all sectors of development.


1.4       Sustainability

The World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) agreed the following definition of sustainable development:

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.[4]


In 2012 the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government published Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland. In formulating this development plan, the Council has integrated the principles of sustainability across all of the Plan sections.


1.5       Structure of the Plan

The Plan consists of a written statement and accompanying maps and includes strategies and objectives for the City at large. The first ten chapters contain objectives and Development Management Standards in relation to specific areas and topics. It must be noted that each chapter is not a stand-alone chapter, but should be read in conjunction with all other chapters. In assessing any development in the City, the overall context will be informed by all relevant policies, including the settlement strategy, housing, community, economic, heritage and infrastructure considerations, underpinned by the vision and strategic goals.  Therefore, no one policy takes precedence over another, but rather all policies converge, founded as they are on the goal of sustainable development.


All policies should also be read in conjunction with Chapter 11: Requirements for Development.



To implement the Development Management Standards as set out in the Plan as appropriate.


1.6       Policy Context

1.6.1       Climate Change

The National Climate Change Adaptation Framework[5]  provides a strategic policy focus to ensure adaptation measures are taken across different sectors and levels of government to reduce Ireland's vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.  It provides for climate change adaptation to be addressed at national and local level.


The first phase is focused on identifying national vulnerability to climate change.  The second phase involves the development and implementation of sectoral and local adaptation action plans which will form part of the comprehensive national response to the impacts of climate change.

The Councils have had regard to the National Climate Change Adaptation Framework in framing this development plan and have already sought to introduce planning and development measures in the overall approach to adaptation to climate change, for example by ensuring that risks of flooding are identified and integrated into the planning process.  The local authorities recognise that a pro-active approach, in which the challenges posed by climate change are integrated into the development of policies, plans and programmes is essential.

The recently published National Climate Change Adaptation Framework provides for local authorities to prepare local adaptation plans through the development plan review process. As this Plan was well under way it was not possible to commence an adaptation plan for inclusion into this draft within the timeframe set under the review process.  It is an objective therefore to prepare such a plan as soon as possible following the adoption of the development plan.



·         To prepare a Climate Change Adaptation plan following the adoption of the Development Plan.


1.6.2        National Spatial Strategy

The National Spatial Strategy (NSS)[6] sets out Government policy in relation to achieving balanced regional development over a twenty year time frame from 2002 to 2020.  Kilkenny is part of the South East Region, which consists of counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.   The South East Region is identified for “reinforcing” and “strengthening” in the NSS.  Waterford is identified as the Gateway for the region with Kilkenny and Wexford acting as Hubs which will support the national and international role of the gateways and in turn energise smaller towns and rural areas within their sphere of influence.


A review of the NSS has been announced by Government and the implications of that review for the city and county plan will be monitored and amendments will be made to the Plan accordingly should the need arise.


1.6.3        The National Development Plan 2007-2013

The National Development Plan (NDP) set out the economic and social investment priorities needed to realise the vision of a better quality of life for all. The NDP sets out a strong framework for the promotion of regional development with a particular focus on investment in the National Spatial Strategy.  Strong urban centres are directly related to regional growth and development, affecting employment, incomes and quality of life throughout the regions. The investment framework and strategy of the NDP will assist and enhance physical and spatial planning.


1.6.4       The National Recovery Plan

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014[7] provides a blueprint for a return to sustainable economic growth for the county.  In particular it:

·         Sets out the measures that will be taken to restore order to our public finances

·         Identifies the areas of economic activity which will provide growth and employment recovery

·         Specifies the reforms the Government will implement to accelerate growth in those key sectors.

Overall, the Recovery Plan aims to build on Ireland’s strengths in ICT, health/life sciences, international financial services, agri-food and other internationally traded services. 


1.6.5       Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland

The green economy and sustainable development agendas are key elements of Ireland’s economic recovery strategy and Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland[8] sets out the range of environmental, economic and social measures required to move these agendas forward from vision to reality.  


1.6.6       Ministerial Guidelines and Directives

These include Guidelines on Architectural Heritage Protection, Childcare Facilities, Development Plans, Landscapes, Retail Planning, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas. The Councils will have regard to all future amendments and new Guidelines published during the plan period and will vary the Plan as appropriate.


1.6.7       Food Harvest 2020 Strategy

The Department of Agriculture published Food Harvest 2020, A vision for Irish agri-food and fisheries[9] in 2010.  The agri-food and fisheries sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry.  It is widely recognised as having a key role to play in Ireland’s export-led economic recovery. 


1.6.8       South East Regional Planning Guidelines

The South East Regional Planning Guidelines[10] expand on the NSS and identify critical enabling investment priorities for the region. The Guidelines are designed to achieve a better spatial balance of social, economic and physical development throughout the region. A settlement typology was established identifying six classifications of urban centres based on size and function and in line with the NSS.


1.6.9       South East River Basin Management Plan

The Water Framework Directive[11] aims to improve water quality and sets very strict deadlines for meeting water quality objectives. Ireland is committed to managing its waters through a catchment based process.  The South East River Basin Management Plan[12] aims to protect all waters within the South-East River Basin District, and where necessary, improve waters and achieve sustainable water use.


1.7       County Development Board Strategy

Through the County Development Board (CDB) each Planning Authority is required to prepare a ten year strategy for the county. The purpose of such a strategy is to ‘facilitate the articulation of a vision for the development of the county’ and to ‘provide the focus for co-operation and co-ordination which in turn will enhance the capacity for maximising the effectiveness of spending programmes’.  Kilkenny 2002-2012, A Strategy for Economic, Social and Cultural Development[13] sets out the agreed strategy for the social, economic and cultural development of Kilkenny. Regard was had to the strategy in the preparation of this Development Plan.


1.7.1       The Aalborg Charter

Kilkenny Borough Council is a signatory to the Aalborg Charter.  The Aalborg Charter is a commitment towards sustainable development of cities and towns and covers ten areas as follows:

1.       Governance,

2.       Local Management towards sustainability,

3.       Natural Common Goods,

4.       Responsible Consumption and Lifestyle Choices,

5.       Planning and Design,

6.       Better mobility, less traffic,

7.       Local action for health,

8.       Vibrant and sustainable local economy,

9.       Social equity and justice, and

10.   Local to Global  


The Aalborg Charter was approved by the participants at the European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns held in Aalborg, Denmark in May 1994 under joint sponsorship by the European Commission and the City of Aalborg and organised by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).


By signing the Charter, European cities, towns and counties committed themselves to enter into Local Agenda 21 processes and develop long-term action plans towards sustainability. The full text of the charter is contained in Appendix C.

1.7.2       URBACT – LINKS Programme

URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme that promotes sustainable development. It enables cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges.  LINKS is an EU Funded project under the URBACT Programme for Sustainable Urban Development.  Kilkenny became a partner in LINKS in 2009 and joined 8 other municipalities in a three year exchange culminating in the preparation of a Local Action Plan.


LOCAL Action Plan

Each Partner City was obliged to produce a Local Action Plan (LAP) which seeks to address local challenges but draws on best practice from the network of exchange.  The Partner City selects a pilot project within which eco restoration practices and methodologies can be tested for real. Kilkenny local authorities selected St Mary’s Church and Graveyard for its pilot project.


A critical action of the Local Action Plan is a commitment by the Kilkenny Local Authorities to improve their engagement with members of the local community and relevant stakeholders prior to the formulation of plans for projects within their area.  This approach to consultation will be tested for the work being carried on the pilot project for the LINKS programme which is the eco-restoration of St. Mary’s Church.



To develop a consultation process for plans and projects proposed by the local authority.

To restore and conserve St. Mary’s Church using eco restoration practices and methodologies.


1.8       Mission Statement

Kilkenny Local Authorities’ mission statement from the Corporate Plan[14] is as follows:

“Kilkenny Local Authorities aim to work in partnership with the people of Kilkenny and relevant agencies to deliver quality services and to promote sustainable economic, social and cultural development for current and future generations.”[15] 

This is the ethos behind the preparation of the draft Development Plan, from the public consultation through to the formulation of policy and the objectives in the draft Plan.


1.9       Monitoring and Review

The purpose of monitoring and evaluation is to assess the effectiveness or otherwise of policies and objectives in terms of achieving stated aims.  Section 15(2) of the Act states that the manager shall, not later than two years after the making of a development plan, give a report to the members of the authority on the progress achieved in securing the objectives and section 95(3)(a) of the Act expressly requires that the two year report includes a review of progress on the housing strategy.

Following adoption of the Plan, key information requirements will be identified focusing on those policies and objectives central to the aims and strategy of the plan.  These information requirements identified will be evaluated on an annual basis during the plan period.

[2] The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Appropriate Assessment of Plans and Projects in Ireland – Guidance for Planning Authorities, 2009


[3] ibid

[4] Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, 1987, Transmitted to the General Assembly as an Annex to document A/42/427 - Development and International Co-operation: Environment

[5] Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, National Climate Change Adaptation Framework, 2012

[6] Department of the Environment and Local Government, The National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020, People, Places and Potential, 2002

[7] Stationery Office Dublin, The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, 2011

[9] Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Food Harvest 2020, A vision for Irish agri-food and fisheries, 2010  

[10] South East Regional Authority, Regional Planning Guidelines for the South East Region 2010-2022, 2010

[12] South Eastern River Basin District, South East River Basin Management Plan, 2010

[14]  The Councils of the County and City of Kilkenny, Corporate Plan 2009-2014

[15] The Councils of the County and City of Kilkenny, Corporate Plan 2009-2014, p.10


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