Drogheda on the Boyne - One of the critical decisions is to fast-track the Northern Environs Plan which will create thousands of affordable housing units as well as land for much needed commercial development.
Friday will be D-Day for Drogheda, that's when the government announces details of the long awaited National Planning Framework which will guide national, regional and local planning and investment decisions for the next 20 years.
Central to the NPF is the need to create 660,000 additional jobs to achieve full employment and a need for 550,000 more homes by 2040 and also to enable people to live closer to where they work, moving away from the current unsustainable trends of increased commuting.
The Government promise is to “Co-ordinate delivery of infrastructure and services in tandem with growth, through joined-up NPF/National Investment Plan and consistent sectoral plans, which will help to manage this growth and tackle congestion and quality of life issues.”
One of the greatest obstacles to growth in Drogheda is the absence of senior local government staff in the area.
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Drogheda, a Heritage Town, recognised as “The Gateway to the Boyne Valley,” has no Town Architect; Heritage or Tourism Officers. Neither is there an IDA; EI or LEO presence locally to support much needed local job creation.
They are all located in Dundalk and Navan, and because Drogheda straddles the border of Louth and Meath it is at the periphery of both jurisdictions.
The Drogheda City Status Group has called on Government to create a single entity to manage the development of the area, claiming that the Louth and Meath Local Authorities can have differing policies and priorities regarding the proper and orderly development of Drogheda and the Greater Drogheda area.
They cite Town Planning expert, Dr. Brian Hughes who advocates the establishment of a Drogheda Metropolitan Area Council to manage and administer the Greater Drogheda Area, including the suburbs of Laytown; Bettystown and Mornington.
The Group believes that it’s time to unlock the potential Drogheda can offer the North-East region.
“The town has a fast growing population and great infrastructure – now it needs jobs and the Local Government mess to be ironed out. The Greater Drogheda Area can play a key role in addressing some of the major challenges Ireland is facing into” said spokesperson Anna McKenna.
“It’s time ‘Official Ireland’ recognised that Drogheda is now the largest town in Co. Louth; the North East - and Ireland – and is on target to become Ireland’s next city, the first in the North East!
“We’re not Dublin, we’re not rural – we’re Drogheda and we’re battling for almost half a million people in the North-East counties of Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Cavan,” said Anna.
“All indications to date suggests the part of the country north of a line between Galway and Dublin may be ignored in the National Planning Framework – and we’re not prepared to accept that.
“So far, all that’s been hinted at is an extension of the DART service to Drogheda, which has received a mixed reaction.
“The Government needs to urgently create jobs for the rapidly growing local population and the 750,000 people in the North East and East within an easy 25 mile commute of Drogheda.
“One of the critical decisions is to fast-track the Northern Environs Plan which will create thousands of affordable housing units as well as land for much needed commercial development.
“It will also facilitate faster access from the M1 to the busy port and reduce pressure on roads within the town; it can also herald the way for a new railway station on the northern side of the River Boyne to attract new rail users travelling to and from Drogheda, enhancing our reputation as a great place to work, rest and play.”