A significant planning initiative has recently been launched across a group of communities in North Clare, designed to create a roadmap for the strategic regeneration, development and sustainability of the region.
The catchment for the project will comprise the communities served by Mary Immaculate Secondary School and the Stella Maris Day Centre in Lisdoonvarna. This covers communities such as New Quay, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, Carron, Doolin, Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora and Kilshanny.
The project is a joint initiative of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte and Clare Local Development Company. Joe Garrihy of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte highlighted, “The project is premised on the need for communities in North Clare to be ready for and be able to respond to change.
We have seen dramatic changes in the region in recent years, for example to patterns of land usage and employment. We have observed increased centralisation of public services and employment opportunities, leading to substantial migration of our young from the region. And correspondingly, we have seen the decline and dilapidation of our villages and towns. We need to come together and be prepared.”
This sentiment was echoed by Darina Greene of Clare Local Development Company. “We see this as a novel and innovative project. It will test the potential over a six-month period of a cross-community, strategic planning exercise in rural North Clare. Not only does the project present opportunities for substantial growth and development in the region, it affords an opportunity to learn from the development of a regional strategy, underpinned by the participation of the local community.”
The emphasis on a regional strategy has been highlighted by both Lisdoonvarna Fáilte and Clare Local Development Company. Joe Garrihy noted, “We see the value of maximising the cross-community relationships that shape the viability of North Clare. Put simply, there are certain issues affecting the communities of North Clare that can only really be progressed by cross-community collaboration, issues such as rural broadband, affordable housing, traffic management, access to public services and a range of others.”
The project was formally initiated in late March. A planning group of leaders from across the aforementioned communities of North Clare has been convened to lead the planning process, working alongside Lisdoonvarna Fáilte and Clare Local Development Company. A social researcher has been contracted to support the group to make informed choices about the future development and sustainability of the region, while the group is chaired by Professor Chris Curtin. Chris, a native of North Clare, is an academic who has researched, written and taught on rural and community development for many years, and is well placed to add value to this development project in North Clare.
“The planning group is the engine that will lead and shape an emerging strategy for North Clare,” said Chris. “This will be a community-led and community-based strategy of North Clare, prepared by its people. While we have established a planning group, we will also be inviting people across the region to feed into the development of the strategy. We will be consulting widely over the next few months.”