1.1 What is the Cahir Local Area Plan?
This proposed Cahir Local Area Plan 2021-2027 (hereafter referred to as ‘the Plan’) is a statutory document providing a six-year framework for the planned, co-ordinated and sustainable development of Cahir Town. When adopted, the Plan will replace the Cahir Local Area Plan 2011-2017 (as extended).
The Plan sets out a strategic vision for the development of Cahir to 2027 and beyond, providing guidance as to how this vision can be achieved, where new development should be located, what public infrastructure is required and objectives to deliver the plan in partnership with stakeholders and the local community.
The Plan is being prepared in accordance with Section 20 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended and hereafter referred to as “the Act”). In accordance with the legislative framework, the Plan must be consistent with national and regional documents and be consistent with the policies and objectives of the County Development Plan. Unless otherwise stated, the policies, objectives and development management standards of the County Development Plan will apply to the LAP Area.
The Plan is set out in 2 Volumes. Volume I consists of a ‘Written Statement’ setting out the vision for the town and the policies and specific objectives to guide future development. The Written Statement also includes the zoning map and visual representation of the development framework of the town. Appendices to the Plan include Development Briefs for Key Opportunity Sites and a Serviced Land and Infrastructure Assessment. Volume II of the Plan consists of Environmental Reports prepared in accordance with EU Directives and to ensure that environmental considerations are fully integrated into the plan-making process.
1.2 Review Process
The review of the Local Area Plan commenced in November 2019, with the publication of a pre-draft Issues Paper and launch of a four-week public consultation process. During this period a public workshop was held, and submissions were invited to ascertain the needs, views and aspirations of the people of Cahir. The public consultation process was advertised in the local newspapers, through social media channels, through the public participation network and community groups. The extent of public engagement was very much welcomed, and the submissions received have informed this proposed LAP, including the identification of a number of objectives to community actions over the plan period.
The next stage of the Plan process is to place the proposed LAP on public display for a six-week period and to undertake public and stakeholder consultation. A Chief Executive Report will be prepared on the submissions received and the proposed Plan will then be presented to the Elected Members for consideration and adoption. If significant or material amendments are proposed to the Plan, these amendments will be placed on public display and a further period of public consultation will follow. Following this period of consultation, the final Plan will then be presented to the Elected Members for adoption. It is envisaged that the Plan will be presented to the Elected Members for adoption in early 2021.
1.3 Environmental Assessments
Strategic Environmental Assessment
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the proposed plan has been prepared in accordance with Directive 2001/42/EC (“the SEA Directive”). The purpose of the SEA Directive is to ensure the environmental consequences of plans are identified and assessed during their preparation and are modified where adverse impacts are likely and/or appropriate mitigation measures are incorporated to alleviate potential impacts. The SEA recognises and considers the value of ecosystems, the interplay between different ecosystems and how each policy intervention can have positive and negative effects on the constituent and cumulative parts of the environment.
The Directive requires that SEA is undertaken where a Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment is required as a part of a Plan. In view of the potential impact on Natura 2000 Site, a SEA Environmental Report has been prepared on this basis and is contained in Volume II of the Plan. The reports set out a series of recommendations which have been fully integrated into the proposed Plan.
An Appropriate Assessment (AA), and has been prepared in accordance with Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the European Communities Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitats Directive) and is contained in Volume II of the Plan. The mitigation measures identified in the Stage 2 Appropriate Assessment (i.e. Natura Impact Report) have been incorporated into the Plan. The emerging conclusion of the AA is that the Plan will not affect the integrity of the European Sites, alone or in combination with other plans or projects.
Strategic Flood Risk Assessment
A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of The Planning System and Flood Risk Assessment Guidelines (DEHLG, 2009) and Circular PL02/2014 (August 2014). All SFRA recommendations have been integrated into the proposed Plan with a precautionary approach applied to the zoning of lands identified as potentially at risk of flooding.
1.4 Planning Context
National Planning Framework
The National Planning Framework (NPF) was adopted as part of Project Ireland 2040 in February 2018. The NPF sets out a high-level strategic plan for shaping the future growth of Ireland and provides 10 National Strategic Outcomes for realising the vision of the plan. The NPF sits at the highest tier of planning in Ireland, and all regional and local planning policy should be consistent with the principles contained within it.
Planning Authorities are also required to take account of any polices and guidelines issued by the Minister under Section 28 of the Act. These documents include guidance on a suite of land use planning issues including architectural heritage, urban development and design, childcare facilities etc.
Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy
The Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) was adopted in January 2020 and comprises the regional tier of planning policy relevant to County Tipperary and Cahir. The RSES primarily aims to support the delivery of Project Ireland 2040, the NPF and the National Development Plan 2018-27 (NDP). The RSES seeks to ensure coordination between the City and County Development Plans (CCDP) and Local Enterprise and Community Plans (LECP) of the ten local authorities in the southern region, including County Tipperary. The RSES includes population projections for each local authority as well as thematically grouped policies, objectives and cities towns and rural areas in the region.
Figure 1: The Southern Region (Source: RSES)
County Development Plan
Following the adoption of the RSES, all local authorities are required to commence the preparation of a County Development Plan. The Council formally commenced the preparation of this Plan on the 18th September, 2020. This Plan will be the first ‘county-wide’ plan prepared for the new administrative area of Tipperary and will be adopted in 2022. The Cahir Local Area Plan will be reviewed for consistency with the County Development Plan upon adoption, and amendments will be made if necessary.
During this interim period, the South Tipperary County Development Plan (hereafter referred to as “the CDP”) remains in force and is the relevant County Development Plan for Cahir. The CDP was adopted in February 2009, and subsequently varied, most recently in December 2015 to align the County Development Plans of North and South Tipperary following the amalgamation of the Councils in June 2014. The CDP contains a suite of policies and objectives to guide development and should be read in conjunction with this Plan.
1.5 Climate Action
The NPF and the Climate Action Plan 2019 have set out the scale of the climate change challenge and has established a national policy position to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% on 1990 levels across energy generation, built environment and transport sectors. To achieve this objective, radical change is required in how we plan our cities, towns and rural areas.
Tipperary County Council, through its partnership approach with the Tipperary Energy Agency and stakeholders in the county, is recognised for its leadership in developing strong pro-active policy approaches and initiatives to address climate action. This Plan will place climate action at the heart of its vision and will promote a framework to achieve compact growth and best practice in low carbon planning and design. This Plan will also place a priority and focus on enhancing and protecting the biodiversity, natural heritage and environment of the town. The SEA of the Plan, in accordance with the Climate Adaptation Framework (2018) and Climate Mitigation Plan (2017), has supported the integration of climate action and land use considerations in the plan-making process.