Councillors in Clare have deferred a new Local Area Plan for Shannon Town and environs for five years after the existing plan failed to secure its objectives. The decision was made without discussion at Clare County Council’s June meeting on the recommendation of chief executive Pat Dowling.

Local area plans were introduced in the Planning and Development Act 2000-2012 to ensure proper planning and sustainable development. In the opinion of chief executive, Pat Dowling, the objectives of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 (Shannon LAP) “have not been substantially achieved”.

Mr Dowling said the existing plan remains consistent with the core strategy of the Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023. Mr Dowling received formal notice of the intention to defer making a new plan on 24th April in correspondence signed by Cllr Bill Chambers and Cllr John Crowe.

A key objective of the County Development Plan (CDP) requires provision of residential lands in Shannon to accommodate a population increase of 3,258 people during the period 2011-2023. Mr Dowling noted, “To accommodate this population growth, the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 provides 47.11ha of residential land, which constitutes the amount required by the core strategy plus 20% headroom.  I am satisfied that, subject to ongoing monitoring, the extent of land zoned for residential purposes is sufficient to support the target population growth.” He added, that ample lands have been zoned to accommodate population growth in Shannon in the foreseeable future.

However Mr Dowling acknowledged that specific objectives of the Shannon LAP to foster a strong identity and sense of place have not been substantially secured.
These objectives are:
• Increasing the appeal of the central areas in the town and the town park.
• Increasing the interaction between the N19, the town, the free zone and the estuary.
• The extension and improvement of the town centre.
• Making the town square and attractive focal point for public activity.• Enhancing sense of place and way-finding on key nodes and circulation routes.

Under the heading Employment, Economy and Enterprise, Mr Dowling noted: “a substantial amount of work remains to be undertaken and it is my opinion that the achievement of these objectives has not been substantially secured.”
The objectives relate to:
• Regeneration of Shannon Free Zone.
• Implementation of the Shannon Free Zone Masterplan.
• Enhancing the brand/ image for Shannon Free Zone.
• Promoting the continuous sustainable improvement of Shannon Free Zone.
• Encouraging Smarter Travel practices.
• Facilitating large scale green energy development.

Commenting on Shannon Town Centre, Mr Dowling said, “The goal of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 is to secure a vibrant and viable town centre in Shannon. In order to achieve this, a number of objectives have been set out in the plan, including:
• The expansion of the town centre north of An Bothar Mor.
• Improving the quality and range of retail offer.
• Aesthetic improvements and the development of a streetscape onto An Bothar Mor.
• The provision of a civic/arts centre in the central area of town.
• Increased connectivity between the Shannon Free Zone/ Smithstown and town centre.

Due to economic circumstances since the adoption of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018, work on town centre improvements in Shannon was constrained.  In Pat Dowling’s view, objectives in relation to the town centre and retail development have not been substantially secured.

Concluding his report, Mr Dowling states, “Since the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 came into effect in October 2012 it has formed a strong foundation for growth and development in the area. However the implementation of many of the objectives has been constrained by national economic difficulties and consequent low levels of growth and investment in recent years.  Others are being actively pursued but the desired outcome has not yet come to fruition due to the long-term or large-scale nature of the objectives that the plan is aiming to achieve.

“While considerable progress has been made since October 2012, many of the key objectives for Shannon such as the rejuvenation and expansion of the town centre, the development of key pieces of infrastructure and the successful promotion of the town as a tourism destination have not been achieved to date. Having regard to these issues and the assessment of the goals and objectives of the Local Area Plan set out above, I am of the opinion that the objectives of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 have not been substantially secured.”