An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland has called on the Government to take rural settlement seriously in the upcoming review of the National Spatial Strategy 2002 -2020. The organisation points to what it terms as the ongoing ‘suburbanisation of rural Ireland’ and the consequent decline of our rural towns and villages.
An Taisce has published five principles for sustainable rural settlement which they say should be taken into account in the upcoming review of the Spatial Strategy.
- A strong network of thriving towns and villages is fundamental for rural development.
- Scattered housing in unserviced locations should be restricted and instead directed to rural towns and villages.
- Implement a ‘Serviced Sites Initiative’ in rural towns and villages as an alternative to scattered housing.
- Rural Ireland is a critical resource for a post-carbon world.
- Manage the economic, social and environmental legacy of scattered housing.
An Taisce says that none of these principles are radical as they are all supported by numerous national planning policy documents but they have not been properly applied in practice. The organisation claims that evidence clearly shows that the highly dispersed settlement patterns that have been allowed to take hold are extremely costly and this has stored up significant social, economic and environmental problems that are to the long-term detriment of rural communities and the rural economy. For more on this initiative and on the work of An Taisce see http://www.antaisce.org.