The Government has confirmed a commitment secured by local TD Denis Naughten that a new law will be introduced to ensure cooperation across the River Shannon on the development of Athlone as the key economic driver of the Heartlands Region, incorporating counties Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath and East Galway.
“The objective of this new law is to ensure that a formal structure is put in place for the orderly development of Athlone, Co. Westmeath and Athlone, Co. Roscommon into a City as envisaged in the Project Ireland 2040 plan published by Government early last year,” said Denis Naughten.
“This will build on the recent law I secured approval for in Government, and which was passed by Dáil Éireann, which sets in stone the County boundary of Roscommon ensuring that Monksland firmly remains part of County Roscommon.
“While the law sets out that the county boundary of Roscommon cannot be changed, it is also important that both Westmeath and Roscommon work closely together to ensure Athlone is developed in a structured manner not only to benefit the local community but to build up the other towns across the middle of the country in the Heartland of Ireland.
“In the Dáil this week the Minister for Local Government, John Paul Phelan TD, confirmed that Government is now bringing forward proposals for a new law on local authority cross boundary cooperation.
“In the case of Athlone the new Urban Area Committee will be made up of councillors from the Athlone Municipal Districts of Westmeath and Roscommon County Councils as well as the Cathaoirleach of both councils”
“I believe that this new Urban Area Committee for Athlone will be a key driver of investment locally, and will allow for experts in the areas of planning, transport, infrastructure, housing and/or business to also have a role in how Athlone develops over the next 20 years,” concluded Denis Naughten.
For Oral Answer on : 09/04/2019
Question Number(s): 75 Question Reference(s): 15729/19
Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when new legislation to establish cross boundary committees will be published in view of the commitment given by the Minister of State to Dáil Éireann on 13 December 2018 during the report stage of the Local Government Act 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Following on from enactment of the Local Government Act 2019, and as indicated during its passage through the Oireachtas, it is my intention, in the coming months, to publish legislation to place local authority cross boundary cooperation on a statutory basis.
What is envisaged is the establishment of Urban Area Committees for urban areas with a population between 1,500 and 100,000, where the results of a population census show that at least 1,500 persons or 10% of the population are living in the administrative area of another local authority. This would include Athlone, Bray, Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, Drogheda, Limerick, Portarlington and Waterford. The functions of UACs will be set out in the legislation in due course but, at this stage, I consider that the UACs could perform strategic and economic planning functions for the areas concerned.
Membership of each committee would be drawn from both local authorities and consist of councillors from the relevant local electoral areas as well as the Cathaoirleach of each of the local authorities. Provision for participation in a non-voting capacity for experts in the areas of planning, transport, infrastructure, housing and/or business could also be included.
I have recently met with a number of local authorities to discuss the proposals and I will engage in further consultation prior to finalizing and publishing the legislation.