1 - Economic Development and Planning Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 1 (Economic Development and Planning Policy) of Sligo County Council held at 2.30pm on Thursday, 4th December, 2008 in the Training Room, Riverside, Sligo.


  • Councillor Seamus Kilgannon,
  • Councillor Patsy Barry,
  • Councillor Sean McManus,
  • Councillor Deirdre Healy McGowan,


  • Declan Breen, Director of Services
  • Paula R Gallagher,  
  • Janet McNamara, Administrative Officer
  • Mihaela Davidescu, Acting Senior Executive Planner
  • Frank Moylan
  • Rita McNulty
  • Gabriel Brown
  • Siobhan Ryan
  • John McGrath


  • Jim Gray


  • Councillor Aidan Colleary,
  • Councillor Jude Devins,
  • Councillor Tony McLoughlin


Councillor Patsy Barry presided.


 Proposed:  Councillor Seamus Kilgannon
 Seconded:  Councillor Sean McManus
And agreed:  “that the minutes of the Strategic Policy Committee Number1 meeting held on 2nd October, 2008 be confirmed”.




Mr McGrath outlined the current position regarding the jobs market and employment situation in Ireland. He indicated that the current employment of 2,114,000 would further decrease to 2,034,000 in 2009 with a projected unemployment rate of 8.1% in 2009. He stated that the employment forecast was for a decline in all sectors in 2009 and any new jobs created being in the services area.

He indicated that most of the new jobs will be in higher level occupations for example managers, officials, professionals, clerical, technicians and services sales. He stated that the Medium term forecast was for the construction to recover together with some growth in services employment. Mr. McGrath informed the meeting that employment in the construction sector reached a peak of 285,000 in 2006 which was equivalent to 14% of total employment, but this was now declining and would be 80,000 less by 2009. He stated that for the period 2002-2006 house building reached a yearly average of 72,414 while the yearly average for the number of household formations was 47,500.

He stated that there was a large reduction in apprentice intake in the last six months and it was important to help to complete apprenticeships to avoid job losses. He informed the members of the rapidly changing skills need, the importance of  combining skills to create employment and the necessity of re-educating and retraining workers in the growing green agenda areas like energy rating , insulation, timber frame housing construction and off site production modules.

Mr. McGrath referred to the skills audit being conducted by the Midlands Chamber of Commerce with the support of FÁS and recommended that Sligo County Council carry out a similar skills audit of all companies in the region, which he agreed FÁS would support. This would establish the skills needed to operate business. Ms. McNulty confirmed that the relevant data is much better at National level and it would be necessary to collate it at County level to give a more accurate reflection of the present situation.

Mr. McGrath stated that the most positive outlook was in the International Financial Services with a recruitment demand of 4,600 per annum. Therefore there was a need for new advanced skills courses in Higher Education and also foundation skills at lower levels. He also indicated that there were further employment prospects in foreign owned companies manufacturing medical devices, for specialist engineering and biomedical graduates with strong technical skills. However fewer operative jobs would be available and the upskilling of 5,000 assemblers, operators, and technicians over a period of three years was necessary.

Councillor Patsy Barry thanked Mr. McGrath for his presentation and stated that he had major concerns for young people who have no education and no trade at all.   Councillor Kilgannon expressed appreciation to Mr. McGrath for his presentation and acknowledged the hard work and contribution made by FÁS.  He referred to the large number who had entered apprenticeships and who may now not be in a position to get the required on the job work experience to enable those complete Phases 4and6 which are available in the Institute of Technology.  Mr. McGrath informed the members that FÁS were aware of the situation and that an announcement by the Minister was eminent in the near future.  Councillor Kilgannon stated that jobs in the future would require higher skills and suggested that the entrance requirement for Courses in Technology should be examined as there was a big reduction in the numbers taking these courses.  Councillor McManus queried if FÁS had put any resources or provisions in place for the re-training of construction employees who had no formal training.

Mr McGrath stated that he didn’t envisage any increase in funding but that resources would be re distributed.

Councillor Deirdre Healy McGowan complimented McMcGrath on the great work done to date by FÁS and acknowledged the major difficulties to be encountered arising from the economic recession.


Mr. Gabriel Browne in his report outlined the background with regard to the initial setting up of the Board, the publication of the first strategy with the aim of promoting the economic social and cultural development of the county. He informed the members that membership of the County Development Board was made up from the Local Government Sector, Local Development Bodies, State Agencies operating in the county, The Community and Voluntary Sectors (including the Community Forum) and the Social Partners.

He indicated that this was the first time that the key players in the county were brought together at local level to develop a strategy for the development of the county from an economic, social and cultural perspective. The review of the CDBs original strategy was undertaken in 2005 and this resulted in an Action Plan being developed for the three years 2006-2008. The CDB had focused over the past three years on 6 key priority areas:

  1. Developing Sligo as a Gateway City
  2. Rural Development Strategy for the County
  3. Ensuring Quality Childcare
  4. Promoting Social Inclusion and Equality
  5. Delivering on Public Safety
  6. Developing Play and Recreational opportunities

The Board are currently in the process of undertaking a review of the Strategy and guidelines had issued to each Local Authority in early October 2008 by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The CDB National Coordination Group, chaired by Minister Míchéal Kitt, decided that the Review should focus on a very limited number of priorities over the period 2009-2012 with a particular emphasis on inter-agency co-operation and the need for sharing of resources to ensure efficiencies and value for money to meet the needs of the relevant client groups.

The Guidelines recommended that the review of the strategies should focus on the CDBs core coordination role and that the focus should be on integrated actions aimed at a more joined up approach to service delivery, involving relevant agencies. It was also recommended that an Economic Working Group be established – guidelines on same to issue from the CDB National Co-ordination Group on this.

The members were informed that the County Development Board does not have a budget and cannot award grants to various organisations. The role of the Board was to see where added value can be achieved by facilitating its various member agencies to work together and to have joined up services and cooperation and to share resources to ensure efficiencies and value for money in order to achieve common goals.

The key objective of the Board was to improve coordination of local service delivery and to address the development priorities of the county/city and to identify the service needs of its customers, especially the disadvantaged.

Mr. Brown then outlined the various stages of the Strategy Review process:

Stage 1 (September – November 2008): 

One to one meetings were held with CDB members/Heads of Organisations and the Chairperson of the Board with the Director of Community and Enterprise:

  • To get feedback on the work programme and priorities over the past three years and to get input on the priorities for the period mid 2009-2012.
  • To review the structures, operations and membership of the Board.
Stage 2 (November – December 2008):

Review of the priorities of the various sub-committees of the County Development Board

  • Innovation/Job Creation Working Group, the Social Inclusion Measures Group and the Cultural Sector.
Stage 3 (3rd December, 2008):

1 day review session with CDB members using DoEHLG guidelines and feedback from the one to one meetings with Board members. 
This will lead to a draft report to review the last three years’ priorities, structures and processes and to draft priority actions for 2009 to 2012.

Stage 4 (January 2009): 

Presentation of draft report on the Review to Sligo County Development Board.

Stage 5 (First Quarter 2009):

Board adopt review report including priorities for 2009-12.

The members were then advised of the various means of inputting into the review CDB Strategy process.

Councillor McManus complimented CDB staff and in particular Ms McNulty on the good work carried out to date and indicated that there was now a clearer focus and the members were more informed arising from the one to one meetings and review sessions held . Councillor Barry stated that the lack of funding was a disadvantage and it was a difficult task to move anything forward with 27 members.

Ms. McNulty acknowledged that the exercise carried out was useful and indicated that it was important to choose actions that would not be done otherwise .She stated that it was proposed to set up an Economic Working Group  with a co-ordinated strategy which would assist locally and act as an information hub with collated information .

She emphasised that the IDA are a separate body to the CDB and it was necessary to have relevant information regarding the various services available, should  it be required by them at any given time.


Ms. Davidescu gave the members an updated report on Development plans and local area plans (copy of report circulated to members)   She indicated that the Development Planning Unit’s work for the remainder of 2008 and early 2009 would concentrate on the statutory/mandatory Development Plans:

Review of Sligo and Environs Development Plan (SEDP) 2004-2010

Ms. Davidescu stated that the DPU’s priority during 2008 was the Review of Sligo and Environs Development Plan 2004-2010, jointly prepared by Sligo Borough and County Councils, which must be adopted by 30 October, 2009 and then updated the members on the stages completed:

  • Pre-draft consultation – 7 December to 8 February; 296 submissions received.
  • First Manager’s Report – submitted to the Members in June 2008.
  • Proposed Draft SEDP – submitted to the Members on 7 November 2009
  • Amendments of the Proposed Draft SEDP – adopted by Sligo County Council on 17 November 2008

She indicated that the Proposed Draft SEDP Main Document/written statement submitted to the Members was accompanied by the following:

  • Draft Sligo City and County Housing Strategy
  • Draft Sligo City and County Retail Strategy
  • Draft North Fringe Local Area Plan
  • Draft Quay Quarter Urban Design Framework
  • Draft Record of Protected Structures
  • Draft Environmental Report (Strategic Environmental Assessment)

Ms. Davidescu then informed the members of the revised target dates

  • By 2nd January 2009 – Borough council Members approve the Draft SEDP for publication, with or without modifications or the Proposed Draft SEDP is deemed to be the Draft Plan.
  • Mid-January 2009 – notices are published in the main local newspapers announcing the availability of the Draft SEDP 2009-2015 for public debate; submissions are invited; public consultation will extend over 10 weeks.
  • 15 June 2009 – the Second Manager’s Report on comments and observations on the Draft SEDP is submitted to the Members for consideration.
  • By 9 July 2009 – Members adopt SEDP or amend the Draft Plan; proposed amendments must go on public display.
  • 21 and 22 July 2009 – notices are published in the local newspapers announcing that proposed amendments to the Draft SEDP are available for comments; submissions are invited; public consultation will take 4 weeks.
  • By 17 September 2009 – the Third Manager’s Report is submitted to the Members.
  • By 30 October 2009 – the Members formally adopt/make the new Sligo and Environs Development Plan 2009-2015.

Sligo County Development Plan (CDP) 2005-2010

She stated that the Manager’s Mid Term Progress Report  was almost completed and would be submitted to Members in January or February 2009; and that the Plan review process must commence by 17 April 2009.

Ms Davidescu outlined the update position regarding other envisaged plans (non-mandatory)

Docklands LAP

– the Proposed Draft SEDP 2010-2016 includes the main parameters (essential policies, objectives and zoning) for the Docklands LAP, whose preparation will commence after the adoption of the new SEDP. Some rezoning has been made to the Docklands area, mainly in response to submissions received. Road objectives have also been modified by the Roads Section.

Tobercurry LAP

– work on the Draft Plan will resume possibly in parallel with the CDP review, commencing in April 2009.

Adopted plans in the SEDP area

Hazelwood-Ballinode LAP

– review to commence after the adoption of the new SEDP 2010-2016.

Adopted plans in the CDP area

Ms Davidescu further stated that she had received advice from the EPA, to the effect that the review of LAPs in the CDP area should be postponed until an SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) is undertaken for the County area. This County-wide assessment will screen or scope the LAPs in terms of need for SEA.

She recommended that the LAPs should be amended to extend their lives until after the adoption of a new CDP, which is the superseding Plan.

Strandhill LAP

–Background review work  has been carried out to date and a substantial amount of the LAP’s objectives have not been fully achieved and therefore it is recommended that the life of the LAP be extended  by three years, to 2012. This would entail amending the LAP under Section 20 of the PandD Act, before it expires on 7 July 2009. She stated that this should be the first plan to be amended.

NB: the LAP amending procedure takes minimum 18 weeks and maximum 35 weeks.

She further recommended that both the Enniscrone LAP and Ballymote LAP should be similarly amended before they expire in 2010 and 2011.

Councillor Barry suggested that in future when preparing Local Area Plans/Mini Plans the importance of consolidating the village centre should be emphasised. Councillor Kilgannon queried when a plan was to be prepared for Rosses Point/Ballincar .Similarly Councillor Deirdre Healy McGowan queried when a mini plan for Ransboro would be done.  In response the members were advised that mini plans for these villages would be prepared in the context of the review of the County Development Plan.


In relation to the Harbour the members were informed that the improvement works in the harbour had been practically completed. Councillors complimented the improvement works that had been carried out and particularly the installation of the Pontoon.


In a response to a query from Councillor Seamus Kilgannon regarding the availability of broadband in the county Ms. McNulty advised that the Department of Communications had produced maps with regard to its distribution.

Councillor McManus requested again that a representative from CIE be invited to the next SPC1 Meeting.


Meeting Date 04/12/2008