3.6 | Towns & Villages Rural towns and villages are the local drivers for their surrounding areas. Their roles and scale vary across the Region from large commuter-based settlements such as Tramore, to towns having a strong service and employment function. A sustainable, infrastructure-led growth approach is encouraged at the appropriate scale for all of these settlement types. Local authorities will categorise settlements and their appropriate growth rates in their development plans to reflect roles, environmental and infrastructural possibilities and limits.
Local authorities may take a targeted approach, such as the application of strategic locations for development within a county context. For example, Cork County Council and Clare County Council are considering an enhanced role for Bantry and Kilrush as service centres for West Cork and West Clare within their development plan reviews. Decline and dereliction are key issues facing towns and villages, including those above and below the 1,500-population threshold. Table 3.4 below highlights the performance of settlements in the Region by scale since the last Census.
Table 3.4 | Performance of Towns by reference to size
Town Scale (Population)
Number of towns 2016
Total Persons and % of Total Urban Population 2016
Growth*/De c l i ne Trends 2011-2016.
583,235 or 61% of total
87.5% growing/ 13% declining
5,000 to 9,999
109,271 or 11% of total
80% growing/ 20% declining
1,000 to 4,9999
149,129 or 16% of total
77% growing/ 23% declining
500 to 999
60,050 or 6% of total
67% growing/ 33% declining
Less than 500
56,350 or 6% of total
54% growing/ 46% declining
SOURCE | Statistics derived from analysis of CSO Census 2016
* Growth rate also include Static figures i.e. it includes towns recording 0% growth.
While many settlements have recorded growth, a greater proportion of smaller-scale settlements record a decline.
Challenges include: • Increasing building vacancy in rural towns and villages; • Demise of the historic vibrancy of town and village centres; • Loss of services, including schools, pubs, shops, garda stations and post offices; • Lack of available sites and services; • Preference to live outside settlements.
Southern Regional Assembly | RSES
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