THE Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan, the first standalone town plan for Shannon, was launched on Monday at Shannon Airport.
The plan, which has been produced by Clare County Council, is targeted at guiding the future growth and development of Clare’s second-largest town up to 2018.
The six-year plan contains objectives to establish a strong and vibrant town centre, maximise the potential from Shannon’s location on the estuary, increase the town’s tourism potential, and establish Shannon as a low-carbon town.
It also provides sufficient zoned land to cater for an increase in the current population of 9,673 (Census 2011) to a target population of 11,972 by 2017. Meanwhile, the plan has anticipated proposals for the development of an aviation services hub at Shannon Airport by zoning a 2,000-acre landbank around the airport.
The area covered by the plan includes the town of Shannon, Shannon International Airport, Shannon Free Zone, Smithstown, Westpark and some adjoining hinterland, including Hurlers Cross.
The launch of the plan, which was an objective of the existing Clare County Development Plan, has been welcomed by the mayors of Shannon and Clare.
Shannon town mayor Michael Fleming described the plan as a “unique blueprint” for the future economic and social development of the town and surrounding community.
“Implementing this plan by working with all those who have an interest in Shannon is now the priority for the council,” Gordon Daly, senior planner, Clare County Council stated.
“While Shannon’s importance as an aviation hub and as a significant employment centre is recognised in its designation as one of nine gateways along with Limerick in the National Spatial Strategy, the council is keen to stress that the plan is also one for the town itself and the people who live there.
“The council is particularly pleased that the final plan is the result of the high level of engagement received from the people of Shannon during the plan-making process,” he added.
Mr Daly said the plan contains specific aims and objectives in relation a wide range of issues.
“For the first time since the town was established during the 1960s, clear objectives to establish Shannon as a tourism destination in its own right have been set out,” he stated.
“Among the objectives is the development of an aviation museum at Shannon Airport, as well as an improved aircraft viewing point. The aim is to build on existing facilities, such as Atlantic Air Venture and Ballycasey Craft and Design Centre. The plan also identifies a site at Illaunagowan Point on the Shannon Estuary, close to the centre of the town, for a potential tourist/interpretative development associated with the Shannon Estuary,” he said.
Mr Daly added that the local area plan also aspires to Shannon taking a lead in becoming a low-carbon town and has zoned a site for enterprise in Stonehall to have a particular focus on renewable energy.
He noted that another key element of the plan is its strong focus on “green infrastructure”, which comprises the network of open spaces, recreation areas, wildlife corridors and water bodies that intersperse the town and surrounding areas. This allows for activities like walking, cycling and recreation to be integrated with biodiversity.
The senior planner explained that a “more detailed green infrastructure plan has been prepared in tandem with the plan, with funding provided by the Heritage Council. The plan includes a cycling strategy and proposals for enhancing walks, including along the Shannon Estuary.”
Commenting on the zoning of a 2,000-acre landbank adjacent to the airport for aviation sector use, Mr Daly said the plan underlines the council’s longstanding vision for the development and expansion of Shannon Airport.
“The council is exercising leadership to achieve this vision through the zoning of lands, which is a key requirement for the future expansion of services at the airport. In doing so, we have worked very closely with the airport authority and other agencies,” Mr Daly said.
The Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan is available on the council’s website, www.clarecoco.ie.
Airport director supportive of plan
THE director of Shannon Airport, Mary Considine, has welcomed the publication of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 as “another timely boost for the long-term strategic development of the airport and surrounding landbanks”.
Speaking after Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council at Shannon Airport, where the local area plan was launched, Ms Considine said the plan supports not just autonomy for Shannon Airport but also the development of Shannon as an international aviation services centre.
“The designation of a Strategic Development Area, encompassing the airport zoned lands, is a further illustration of Clare County Council’s continuing support for Shannon Airport. Having a framework in place from the local authority that supports the development goals from a passenger and business perspective for the airport going forward complements our own plans for building a sustainable future for the airport, its staff and the West of Ireland Region,” she said.
“The launch of the local area plan is the latest in a number of positive events for Shannon over recent weeks. It follows the securing of a number of new services for 2013 on transatlantic and European schedules as well, of course, as last week’s announcement on the separation of the airport and subsequent Budget measures for aviation in Ireland, which we intend to take advantage of,” the airport director added.
“While there are challenges ahead, we will enter 2013 with a great deal of positivity. We intend to capitalise on the confluence of opportunities coming together for Shannon so that we can build a sustainable future for the airport, its staff and the wider region,” Ms Considine concluded.