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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



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Successfully submitted for the award of MSc in Spatial Planning to the Dublin Institute of Technology, December, 2013.


This Dissertation examines both Central Statistics Office (CSO) published and unpublished demographic evidence from the 2011 and previous censuses, so as to evaluate the 2002 National Spatial Strategy’s (NSS) selection of Gateways and Hub settlements. On its own, population is an incomplete measure of size. However, when used with emerging employment data, a robust methodological time-dynamic centrality model may be constructed based on population and Daytime Working Population (DWP) behaviour and other related and relevant investigations. The Model compares unpublished 2002 data of the NSS Plan with similar 2011 census for all large and medium-sized Irish settlements of 5,000 and over in population. The selected methodological approach analyses the group of eighty-five settlements comprising Ireland’s five cities and eighty Band 1 and 2 towns as at the 2011 census. A series of criteria are examined including rank order, population growth and DWP. The central question of the dissertation is: how may population and employment data analysis inform the optimal demographic and economic selection of growth centres in a re-configured National Spatial Strategy? The 2011 census outcome forms the half-way point in the eighteen-year life of the 2002-2020 NSS. Emerging evidence points to a mixed performance in the growth of its twenty-three nominated settlements including population decline in one case, Sligo. Consistent with many criticisms, vide Hughes PhD (2010), at its Appendix 5, PP. 235-236, that study found that too many growth centres were selected and that the central NSS strategy of balanced regional development ought to be replaced by one of centripetal agglomeration, with a policy focus to concentrate mainly on Ireland’s provincial cities together with a small number of other mainly mono-centric locations, wherein such settlements then become the ‘central place’ economic cores of their respective regions. A number of strategic conversations with senior academics and practitioners also complement the thrust of the quantitative findings of this research.


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