2. Cahir in Context

closeddate_range24 Sep, 2020, 4:00pm - 9 Nov, 2020, 4:01pm

2.1       Location

Cahir is strategically located at the junction of the M8 Dublin to Cork Motorway, the N24 Waterford to Limerick national route and on the Limerick to Waterford railway line. Historically the town evolved at this location, given the River Suir was easily crossed at this point, with the iconic Cahir Castle providing the best natural vantage point to the river and surrounding hinterland. The town’s historical development has given rise to an outstanding natural and built environment, with the River Suir forming a natural linear park in the centre of the town, linking east to an impressive Victorian Square and historical streetscape. Cahir is a town with immense civic pride and a town that offers a high quality of life for local people and visitors to the area. 

 

Figure 2: Cahir

2.2       Socio Economic Profile

Cahir has a population of 3,593 persons (CSO, 2016). As outlined in Table 1, the town has experienced significant population growth (almost 29%) since the turn of the millennium, although this has slowed in recent years.  The town is marked by its diverse and young population, with almost 1,000 people or circa 27% of the population identifying themselves as non-Irish. Household size in the town has increased slightly from 2.54 in 2011 to 2.56 in 2016. Increases in household sizes are a noted national trend since 2016, the first time household sizes have increased in 50 years in the state (CSO).

 

2002

2006

2011

2016

Population

2,794

3,381

3,578

3,593

% Increase

-

21%

5.8%

0.4%

Table 1: Population growth in Cahir (Source: CSO)

Cahir has a high working population percentage and a low dependency rate, with an elderly dependency ratio[1] of 15.1, compared to 24.1 for the county.  The number of ‘empty nest’ or retired households has remained unaltered (181 households) from 2011 to 2016, though in common with the national trend, elderly dependency has increased from 12.6 in 2011.

 

2011

2016

Tipperary

20.5%

24.1%

Cahir

12.6%

15.1%

Table 2: Old age (+65) dependency ratio

Cahir serves as an important employment centre for the county, and in particular has a very strong manufacturing base, with over 30% of workers employed in this sector compared to a county average of 15%. The tourism sector has been specifically targeted as an area of potential growth over the lifetime of the previous plan, and the main attractions within the town have increased their visitor numbers year-on-year. In 2018, Cahir Castle attracted 90,000 visitors, an increase from 68,000 visitors in 2015, demonstrating the growth potential of tourism in the town. The employment sector including ‘accommodation & food’ is one of the few industries which is experiencing relative growth in employment in the town, reflecting a trend nationally and supported by the increase in visitor numbers in the town.

Employment Sector

2011

2016

% Change

Agriculture, Manufacturing & Forestry

7.5%

6.9%

-0.6%

Manufacturing, Mining, Electricity etc

30.7%

30.1%

-0.6%

Construction

1.7%

1.7%

0

Wholesale, Retail Trade, Transportation, Accommodation & Food

23.7%

24.6%

0.9%

ICT, Financial, Real Estate, Professional, Admin

12.1%

10.7%

-1.4%

Public Administration

4.9%

5.1%

0.2%

Education, Human Health & Social Work

14.5%

15.2%

0.7%

Other Service Activities

3.1%

4.4%

1.3%

Not Stated

2%

1.7%

-0.3%

Table 3: Employment Profile of Cahir (Source: CSO)

The need to diversify the employment base and to harness sustainable employment opportunities continues to be a priority for the town, as identified by the community at the public consultation workshop.

Cahir has two primary schools and one secondary school. Though there are no third level facilities in the town, the town is within easy reach of several third level institutions in Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Clonmel and Thurles. There has been a notable increase in educational attainment for those aged 15 or older, with those holding at least a Grade 8 National Qualification Level qualification increasing from 8.5% in 2011 to 10.1% in 2016.

 

2011

2016

NFQ Grade 8

8.5%

10.1%

Table 4: Educational Attainment Level (Source: CSO)

2.3       Transport and Movement

Cahir benefits from a railway station on the Limerick-Waterford Line and from regional bus services. Although private modes of travel are the dominant mode of transport, there was a notable reduction in car use from 2011 to 2016 and a corresponding rise in walking and cycling (CSO). It is noted, however, from data collected through the Commuting and Jobs Profile – Tipperary Local Authority (Sept 2018) report that for workers in the town, private modes of travel (79.5%) are by far the dominant form of transport with cycle and walking accounting for just 9.5% of transport, indicating that a high proportion of active travel is for school or college going transport.

 

2011

2016

Walking & Cycling

17.1%

20.4%

Public Transport

4.1%

4.5%

Private

70.1%

66.6%

Work or stay at home

1.3%

1.3%

Not stated

2.5%

6.8%

Table 5: Means of travel for Population aged 5 and over who travel to work, school or college (Source: CSO)

2.4       Planning Context

This review of the Cahir LAP is taking place in the context of newly published national and regional planning policy; the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Southern Region Spatial and Economic Strategy, 2020-2031 (RSES).

The NPF recognises the important role rural towns like Cahir fulfil as local drivers for their surrounding areas, and sets out a national objective to “strengthen and diversify rural towns to be the focus of local housing and employment growth, based on regeneration and development that will include derelict site transformation and new technology, such as low carbon and energy efficiency and digital connectivity[2]”.  This Plan will seek to deliver on national policy by providing a targeted strategy to regenerate the town centre, to promote infill and brownfield re-development and to promote best practice in low-carbon integrated planning and design.  

The RSES provides a settlement framework based on the pillars of three cities, supported by Key Towns (including Clonmel, Nenagh and Thurles) and towns and villages across the region. The RSES has also recognised the role of networks or “groupings of towns and villages...which share geographic and economic recourses and contribute to specialisms which if combined provide a strategic opportunity to drive the regional economy[3]

Cahir is a thriving District Town and a nationally important tourism destination in its own right. The town is also location on the Limerick-Waterford Transport and Economic Corridor, a network of strategically important towns, recognised within the RSES.

Figure 3: Limerick Waterford Transport and Economic Corridor

Tipperary’s towns along this corridor have worked collaboratively on many economic development initiatives, including the River Suir Blueway and Butler Trail. This corridor, through continued collaboration and investment in the transport infrastructure, has significant potential to attract inward investment and foster economic development within the region.

The Cahir LAP offers the opportunity to identify local and collaborative initiatives which can be delivered through funding streams such as the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF). In this regard, a key ambition for the Plan will be to deliver national policy through the transformative regeneration of the town centre and by harnessing regional economic  opportunities including building on Cahir as a centre of excellence for tourism and working on a collaborative basis as part of the Limerick-Waterford Transport and Economic Corridor.

The review of the national and regional planning policy and the socio-economic profile of Cahir above has identified key issues and opportunities to inform the vision and development strategy set out in Chapter 3. 

 

[1] Elderly age dependency is calculated by assessing the number of persons aged 65 and over, against the number of working age (15-64) people in an area

[2] NPF, page 72.

[3] RSES, page 33