Small Connected Towns Study

The 18-month research programme on cross-border town inter-relationships has culminated in the release of the report Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages. The 21 November 2008 launch of the study was well-attended and well-recieved, and helped to demonstrate the benefits to be gained by cross-border cooperation.

Small Connected Towns Study Launch

The Border region is characterised by many problems: its peripherality, a lack of joined up action and spatial planning, an infrastructure deficit, the decline of traditional economic activities such as farming, woodworks and textiles, high unemployment and low educational attainment. In economic terms, towns have been cut off from their natural trading and retailing hinterlands. The region is also characterised by sectarian tensions remaining from the Troubles.

A core message emerging from all speakers at the launch was the need for greater investment in communicating the success stories which, in turn, demonstrate the mutual benefits to be gained through cross-border cooperation

The key objectives of this study are to:

  • Identify best practice in joined-up planning and regeneration for inter-connected cross-border areas with a particular emphasis on collaborative efforts that have supported local economic development, social cohesion and mutual benefits.
  • Identify factors associated with successful collaboration through review of projects with a history of successful interaction and outcomes including institutional frameworks for collaboration.
  • Develop strategies for inter-connected cross-border towns to make more effective use of funding to support future growth and development; and
  • Determine how these towns can promote joined-up spatial planning to effectively link to the designated local, regional and national policy using funding from sources for cross-border infrastructure and planning.

This action-oriented research programme focuses on five cross-border areas covering towns and villages of varying sizes with different functional roles in the settlement hierarchy

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