Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to a Rural Challenge

The Conference Programme is available here.

ICLRD hosted a very successful and engaging conference on rural development strategies, Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to the Rural Challenge on Friday, 8 May at the Blackwater Learning Centre in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan.

There is growing recognition that rural areas – and their balanced development – are an important policy area in their own right; and that the current political climate facilitates the development of rural communities on a North, South and cross-border basis. The conference brought together 115 delegates and speakers from community and local development agencies, local government officials, businesses and business networks, practitioners, policy makers and academics for a one day event.

Conference Presentations

ICLRD Presentation
Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to the Rural Challenge – ICLRD Research Team

Keynote Address
Bucking the Trend – The ‘Local’ as Centres of  Rural Growth and Development – Roger Turner

Workshop 1: Rural Economic Diversification
Workspace – Adopting an Economic Model to Local Community Development – Brian Murray
Innovation and Business Clustering: A Case Study of the Irish Furniture Industry – Dr. Kevin Heanue

Workshop 2: Unleashing Local Potential by Building on a Rural Area’s Asset Base
Developing a Strategic Vision and Translating this into an Action Plan – Maura Walsh
Realising Asset-Based Development and Local Potentiality: The Petal Model – Geoff Brown

Workshop 3: The Impact of Government Policy on Rural Development
Planning for Rural Development – A New Emphasis – Zita Murphy
Learning from Experience: Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Practice – Declan Nelson

Workshop 4: Approaches to Rural Restrucutring
Nature and Sustainability in Rural Communities – Peter Carvill
The Role of Education in Rural Restructuring – Kate Clifford

Closing Address – Peter Quinn

The publication of the research report, Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to the Rural Challenge, is the culmination of a twelve-month research programme into sustainable rural development across the island of Ireland; with a particular focus on economic diversification, spatial planning and rural communities. Standing – left to right: Dr. Neale Blair, University of Ulster; Caroline Creamer, NIRSA, NUI Maynooth; John Driscoll, Director, ICLRD and Andy Pollak, Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies; Sitting – Left to right: Dr. Karen Keaveney, Queens University Belfast; Minister Michelle Gildernew; Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick The overall theme of this study was to consider the impact of economic re-structuring on rural areas together with the opportunities for diversification including micro-enterprise development, business clustering, joint marketing and branding. In the context of a changing policy environment and challenging economic times, the report considers the opportunities that can be made available by adopting a local asset-based approach to rural restructuring and diversification.

Working closely with a committee including representatives from the three case study areas of Draperstown, Emyvale-Truagh-Aughnacloy and Duhallow, the study team interviewed over 80 people and conducted a number of focus groups. In addition, the ICLRD hosted a very successful and engaging conference – attended by over 110 people – on rural development strategies, Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to the Rural Challenge, on Friday, 8 May at the Blackwater Learning Centre in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. Those participating in the study noted that rural areas are well-positioned to adapt to changing demands even during an international recession given their traditional reliance on small-scale businesses.

This report, which was guided by a high-level independent Advisory Committee involving representatives from central and regional government on both sides of the Border, captures many of the features, successes and challenges associated with rural restructuring and territorial cooperation. It provides insights and recommendations on future local governance arrangements, the need for local responses to economic decline, and the opportunities for incorporating innovations and good practice into future partnerships. The report also emphasises the role of collaborative spatial planning in addressing the needs of both rural and urban communities which are increasingly inter-connected in a globalised economy. Specifically, the report recommends the establishment of a sub-regional civil society forum, the extension of business networks – using the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) model – across the island of Ireland, and the need for a strategic vision set within a top-down framework and delivered through partnership at local level.

Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region

Supporting the Implementation of Cross-Border Collaborative Frameworks

Main Report (.pdf)

Dundalk, Co. Louth
27 February 2009 

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The Report was launched by Conor Murphy, MP MLA, Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland, and John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of the Republic, at a special event at the Carrickdale Hotel, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co Louth.

Published by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development, (ICLRD) the “Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region” Report brings together recent and current research on how to realise the benefits of cross-border collaboration in the Newry-Dundalk Sub Region through integrated planning and development strategies.

The Report, which was guided by a high level Steering Committee, chaired by InterTradeIreland with representatives from central and local government and business on both sides of the border, details how the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region is well positioned to attract high quality jobs, improve the local environment, generate a wide range of public and commercial services, and promote a well managed environment for tourism and recreation.

The Steering Committee provided guidance to the study team which identified four key projects to be progressed within a wider sustainable development context. These include:

  1. A Newry-Dundalk Centre of Excellence to create a sustainable energy community linked to the work of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and EU Concerto;
  2. A proposed Newry-Dundalk Cross-Border International Services Zone linked to international financial and other services is proposed which will create additional skilled employment in the region;
  3. The promotion of geo-tourism and the management of a shared landscape and natural heritage to promote and safeguard the geological assets and natural resources of the Mournes, Cooley, Slieve Gullion and Carlingford Lough Region; and
  4. A further project to create and co-ordinate a regeneration strategy for both Newry and Dundalk thus promoting the distinctiveness of the two cities will also be developed.

The Report proposes that the two jurisdictions should continue their existing co-operation, particularly at central government level, by building on structures that have evolved during the study. A joint senior management group comprising the Local Authority County/ Manager and Chief Executive along with senior departmental heads has already been established to develop areas for co-operation in the future.

The Newry-Dundalk Twin City Concept first captured the imagination of politicians, academics, and senior officials in 2003 at an Ireland-Harvard Conference held in Newry City. The Newry-Dundalk Region has traditionally exhibited a long history of cross border co-operation between the local authorities of Newry and Mourne, Louth County and Dundalk Town Councils.

Councillor Colman Burns, Mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council, joined his colleagues from Louth County Council and Dundalk Town Council in welcoming the launch of the Newry-Dundalk Report.

“Newry and Mourne Council has been committed to cross-border co-operation for many years. We were co-founders, along with Louth County Council, in the establishment of the East Border Region in 1976. We also have a long established joint committee of elected members from Dundalk Town Council and Newry and Mourne District Council who meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern and to promote greater co-operation between the communities on both sides of the border. Also at a local level through the Castleblayney-South Armagh Partnership we have supported a number of local tourism development projects. I very much welcome the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Report. This not only celebrates the co-operation already undertaken at the local level, but also sets out for us an agreed way forward that will help establish the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region as a dynamo for growth and development on the island of Ireland”.

Newry and Mourne District Councils Chief Executive, Mr Thomas McCall, elaborated how the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Vision was first established at a local level and has been developed from the bottom up. Mr McCall said:

“The vision which was established by local politicians has taken hold in the minds of policy makers both in industry and in the public service. By stating our case for the future development of the Twin City Region, we have set out a series of key strategic projects, which are capable of delivery and which will help establish this region as an exemplar for cross-border development in the future”.

Aidan Gough, Director of Strategy at Intertrade Ireland who chaired the group said:

“In these troubled economic times, the Twin City Region Project sets out a route map to future prosperity based on cross-border co-operation, local leadership and central support. It is a prime example of actions locally to complete globally”.

The Report sets out the practical and mutual benefits of voluntary co-operation which will be reflected in pooling of expertise, sharing of good practice and efficiencies in enterprise development as well as the sustainable management of the region. The ICLRD research team undertook detailed research and conducted over 100 interviews with key public, business and civic leaders to identify key issues affecting the region.

A Twin City Region Advisory Group modelled on the Steering Committee and composed of representatives from the Newry and Mourne District, Louth County and Dundalk Town Councils along with representatives from the respective Chambers of Commerce and Central Government will be established, to oversee the implementation of the projects set out in the Report. The Advisory Group will also be supported by a number of joint technical teams under the stewardship of the Senior Management Group.

The initiative shown by the civic, public and business leadership in Newry and Dundalk to bring added benefits to each side of the border with a new regional perspective will provide a powerful example of how voluntary inter- jurisdictional co-operation can benefit other local governments across the island of Ireland.

The launch of the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region Report also sets out a first in terms of sub-regional strategic planning on the Island of Ireland.

ICLRD invited to sit on panel for Review of Village Design Statements

Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick and Caroline Creamer, NIRSA, NUI Maynooth, both research associates with the International Centre for Local and Regional Development, have been invited to sit on a panel focusing on the review of Village Design Statements (VDSs).  The review is being commissioned by the Heritage Council, the Irish national heritage agency with a role in proposing policies and priorities for the identification, protection, preservation and enhancement of the natural and built environment. 

Village Design Statements are non-statutory, simple but effective design guidance documents which are prepared by, and aim to reflect the visions and desires of local people.  It is thought that fifteen counties in the Republic ofIreland have prepared Village Design Statements but, to date, no evaluation has been carried out on their effectiveness or usefulness.  The review now being commissioned by the Heritage Council, with the overall objective of examining the ways in which VDS projects have progressed and developed in Ireland and their adoption as Supplementary Planning Guidance, will take place over the coming summer.

The Heritage Council has appointed the Countryside and Community Research Unit (CCRI), University of Gloucestershire and BDOR Limited to undertake the evaluation of VDSs in Ireland. It is envisaged that a final report will be submitted by the consultants in mid-September, with the findings to be presented at a conference on Village Design Statements in October 2008. Other members of the Steering Committee include: Niall Cussen, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dara Larkin, South Dublin County Council; and Deirdre Burns, Wicklow County Council.

ICLRD to participate in review panel for the Regional Development Strategy in Northern Ireland

ICLRD has been asked to participate in a working group for the a major review of the Regional Development Strategy in Northern Ireland. As noted by the Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, the “review is an important opportunity to develop the long-term future of the north.” John Driscoll, the ICLRD Director will represent ICLRD in the working group.

Fourth Annual ICLRD Conference – Achieving Balanced Regional Development: Dynamic Regions, Spatial Strategies and Collaboration

Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
22-23 January 2009

Dignitaries from the 4th Annual ICLRD Conference "Achieving Balanced Regional Development: Dynamic Regions, Spatial Strategies and Collaboration" are (from left to right) John Driscoll, Grant Duncan, Dr. Gabor Novotny, Dr. Rupert Kawka, Minister Michael Kitt, Minister Conor Murphy, Steve Quartermain, Jim Mackinnon, and Peter Roberts

Dignitaries from the 4th Annual ICLRD Conference "Achieving Balanced Regional Development: Dynamic Regions, Spatial Strategies and Collaboration" are (from left to right) John Driscoll, Grant Duncan, Dr. Gabor Novotny, Dr. Rupert Kawka, Minister Michael Kitt, Minister Conor Murphy, Steve Quartermain, Jim Mackinnon, and Peter Roberts

In January the ICLRD held its annual conference in Letterkenny, Co Donegal under the title Achieving Balanced Regional Development: Dynamic Regions, Spatial Strategies and Collaboration. Letterkenny was chosen as the venue in order to highlight the ongoing efforts with Derry/Londonderry to develop the cross-border Northwest Gateway. The conference was attended by over 130 delegates, speakers and chairs from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Hungary, Germany, the Skane Region in Sweden, and the states of Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia in the United States. Mr. Michael Kitt, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Mr. Conor Murphy, MLA, Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland addressed this major cross-border planning conference.

Keynote speakers from overseas included Steve Quartermain, Chief Planning Officer in the Department for Communities and Local Government in London; Jim MacKinnon, Director for the Built Environment in the Scottish Government; Grant Duncan, Head of the Sustainable Futures Division in the Welsh Assembly Government; Dr Gabor Novotny, from the European Commission’s DG Regio (Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion); Dr Rupert Kawka from the German Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning; and Professor Gerrit Knapp, Director, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, University of Maryland.

The conference – especially the address by both Ministers Kitt and Murphy – was timely, given that the plenary session of the North-South Ministerial Council focusing on cross-border initiatives was held in Magee Campus, Derry on Friday January 23. In the coming months there are various cross-border policy initiatives scheduled to launch, including the Collaborative Framework for Spatial Planning on the Island of Ireland, the Northwest Gateway Initiative and an ICLRD report on the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region. Launching these three-initiatives will represent significant milestones in cross-border cooperation on the Island of Ireland.

The conference delegates represented a mix of academics, students, practitioners, Ministers, Councilors, officials from central and local government, and representatives from cross-border bodies and the private sector. Organized across two days, there was ample time for debate, networking and cross-learning on the themes of inter-jurisdictional collaboration in spatial planning and local and regional development.

The first day focused on issues of strategic territorial planning through specific examples: EU territorial cohesion policies, international experiences from the State of Maryland (US) as well as Germany to encourage balanced regional growth, and on spatial planning experiences of our neighbours in Scotland, Wales and England. We closed the afternoon with presentations by Michael Kitt, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Minister Conor Murphy, MLA, Minister for Regional Development on the current efforts by both Governments to establish a collaborative framework for spatial planning on the island of Ireland.

The presentations on the second day concentrated on balanced regional development through designated gateways on the Island of Ireland, including those that cross borders and jurisdictions: the Northwest Gateway, the Newry-DundalkTwin City, the Atlantic Gateway and the Cork Gateway. Furthermore, presentations from the Department for Regional Development, Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Heritage & local Government, Ireland discussed the opportunities that are emerging for inter-jurisdictional cooperation and the role of gateways and regions within and between the respective spatial strategies. Closing breakout sessions offered conference participants an opportunity to discuss and debate the presentations and present questions to a panel representing the County and Council Executives and Central government departments.

We were pleased to continue our collaboration with InterTradeIreland, with its sponsorship of the Day 2 session on Achieving Balanced Regional Development—Learning from Each Other.

Conference Programme
Conference Report
Conference Audio

Conference Summary Report
Achieving Balanced Regional Development – Cliff Hague

Day 1
Opening Remarks – John Driscoll
Balanced Regional Development and Territorial Competitiveness – Gabor Novotny
The Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion-Annex for Discussion – Gabor Novotny
Advancing the Land Use Agenda In Maryland: Analysis, Policy, and Public Participation – Gerrit Knaap
Achieving Balanced Regional Policy in Germany: The Role of Urban-Rural Partnerships – Rupert Kawka
People, Places, Futures: The Wales Spatial Plan – Grant Duncan
Spatial Planning at the National Level: Scotland’s Experience – Jim Mackinnon
Spatial Planning in England – Steve Quartermain
Address to the ICLRD Annual Conference – Minister Michael Kitt, TD
Address to the ICLRD Annual Conference – Minister Conor Murphy, MLA

Day 2
Review of the Regional Development Strategy – Mike Thompson
Refreshing the National Spacial Strategy and the Framework for Collaboration – Niall Cussen
The Atlantic Gateway – Brian Callanan
The Role of the Cork Gateway in Achieving Balanced Regional Development – Kevin Terry
The Newry-Dundalk Gateway – Conn Murray and Tom McCall
The Letterkenny Derry/Londonderry Gateway – Michael McLoone, John Meehan


Small Connected Towns Study – Launch

Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages

Main Report (.pdf)
Executive Summary (.pdf)
Click here to see the launch presentations 

Blacklion, Co. Cavan
21 November 2008

The 18-month research programme focusing on the inter-relationships between cross-border towns and villages in the Irish Border region culminated with the launch of the book, Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages, in Blacklion Golf Club, County Cavan on the 21 November 2008.  The research considers the relationship and connectivity that exist between five cross-border settlement groupings and identifies and examines the challenges facing, and opportunities within, these ‘micro-regions’.  The Border towns and villages included in the study were:

  • Lifford-Strabane
  • Kiltyclogher-Cashel/Scribbagh-Garrison-Rossinver
  • Blacklion-Belcoo-Glenfarne
  • Clones-Rosslea-Newtownbutler-Lisnaskea
  • Castleblayney-Crossmaglen.

The well-attended launch of the resulting book in November 2008 received very positive feedback and local press coverage. About 60 people from the cross-border region attended the launch, including the ICLRD research team and representatives from ICLRD partners; namely Rob Kitchin of NIRSA/NUIM, John Cusack of AIT and Greg Lloyd of the School of Built Environment at UU. The morning combined a briefing by the research team on the study’s findings and on future opportunities for cross-border cooperation. This was followed by commentary from a panel that represented the viewpoints of the community, public and private sectors.  Representing the lead funding agency behind this research programme, the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), board member Ms. Deidre Ryan discussed the timeliness of the study as well as the continued role for IFI in cross-border planning. From a political perspective, Jim Wells MLA, South Down and Eamon Scanlon T.D., Sligo-North Leitrim both noted that while cross-border cooperation can be difficult and can ‘take us out of our comfort zones’, the mutual benefits to be gained outweigh these fears. Niall Holohan of the North South Ministerial Council – and representing the Steering Committee established to oversee this research programme – offered an all-island perspective on the role and importance of collaboration. The event then concluded with the launch of the book by renowned journalist and author, Colm Toibin.

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.

scts_borderstudymap288

Map of Study Area

Check out our press coverage!
Articles in the Fermanagh Herald (1) and (2)
Article in the Cavan Echo
Article in the Donegal News
Article in the Northern Standard
Article in the Sligo Post
Article in the Sligo Weekender

Small Connected Towns Study

UPDATE:
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

Background:
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

Housing Conference ‘08 in Cork, “Shared Future – Shaping the Fabric of Our Communities”

Cork, Co. Cork
April 24-25, 2008

Creating sustainable communities is a major challenge facing housing programmes on the island of Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. The ‘08 Conference of the Isles was held in Cork and featured speakers offering interesting case examples on promoting sustainable communities. ICLRD helped to sponsor this event as part of its wider action research programme in sustainable communities. Emerging findings from the ICLRD’s study were presented at the conference. More information can be found on the conference by downloading the pdf provided by the conference organisers.

Download conference brochure

Third Annual Conference Report Now Available

The report on the Third Annual ICLRD Conference, Fostering Co-operation for Local and Regional Development through Cross Border Spatial Planning, is now avaliable

On January 17, 2008 in Armagh, the ICLRD together with InterTradeIreland hosted a conference on Fostering Co-operation for Local and Regional Development through Cross Border Spatial Planning. The conference was opened jointly by Batt O’Keeffe TD, Minister for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas, and Conor Murphy MP MLA, Minister for Regional Development.  The ICLRD is continuing to support the development of an all-island collaborative framework for spatial planning through its action research programmes, technical workshops and forums, addressing three spatial scales: EU and all-island, sub-regional and local.  This third annual conference addressed current opportunities for cross-border collaboration and highlighted ICLRD activities that contribute to an understanding of the complex all-island and cross-border dynamics of change in cities, towns and rural areas.

Download conference report
Read conference press release and download conference presentations and audio files

Launch of The Atlas of the Island of Ireland

Armagh, Co. Armagh
17 January 2008 

On the occasion of the International Centre for Local and Regional Development’s (ICLRD) Third Annual Conference on January 17, 2008, ICLRD and the All-Island Research Observatory launched The Atlas of the Island of Ireland, a set of detailed full color maps and cartograms of varied socio-economic indicators across the island. Justin Gleeson, Rob Kitchin, Brendan Bartley, John Driscoll, Ronan Foley, Stewart Fotheringham and Chris Lloyd co-authored the atlas.

Pamphlet and order form for The Atlas of the Island of Ireland