The Shannon Town & Environs Local Area Plan, the first stand alone town plan for Shannon was launched today at a ceremony held in Shannon International Airport.
The plan, which has been produced by Clare County Council, is targeted at guiding the future growth and development of County 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 2000-acre landbank around the airport.
The area covered by 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.
Town Mayor Michael Fleming described the Plan as a “unique blueprint” for the future economic and social development of the town and surrounding community. Clare Mayor Pat Daly acknowledged members of the local community, including business interests, who had contributed to the formulation of the Plan during public consultation process held earlier this year.
“Implementing this Plan by working with all those who have an interest in Shannon is now the priority for the Council,” explained Gordon Daly, Senior Planner, Clare County Council.
He continued: “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.”
Mr. Daly said the Plan contained 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. “Amongst the objectives is the development of an aviation museum at Shannon Airport, as well as 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.”
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 of 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.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the zoning of a 2,000-acre landbank adjacent to the airport for aviation sector use, Mr. Daly said: “This new Plan further 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.”
The Shannon Town & Environs Local Area Plan is available to download from the Council’s website. www.clarecoco.ie.