Planning Perspectives on Rural Ireland
Across the island of Ireland analysis of and policy prescription for ‘the rural’ are significant. This mirrors the attention given to rural affairs at the European scale, especially over the past 20 years. A shared concern comprises the contribution that planning can make to sustainable development and territorial cohesion. In this regard it could be expected that rural planning and broad based rural development would be inextricably linked. Yet the reality in Ireland is that there appears all too often to be a disturbing disconnection between these spheres of public policy. But it also points to an even deeper issue regarding the absence of a vision for the future of rural society that is subscribed to by all whose brief or interest is located within the rural world. That vision would identify rural stakeholders as being at the heart of its preparation and delivery. This chapter is set against that context. It argues that the rural does matter and that sensitive planning policies, closely aligned to deep traditions of rural living in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, must be part of a broader public policy agenda for sustaining rural communities.