A group of communities in North Clare have come together to design a roadmap for the strategic regeneration, development and sustainability of the region.

In what is a joint initiative of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte and Clare Local Development Company (CLDC), the communities of Ballyvaughan, Carron, Doolin, Fanore, Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora, Kilshanny and New Quay are planning for the future via the North Clare Strategic Planning Group.

Formal initiation of the project began in late March with a planning group of leaders from across the areas involved. A social researcher has also been contracted to support the group in their work.

Professor Chris Curtin, a native of Lisdoonvarna who recently retired as a professor of rural development at NUIG is chairing the North Clare Strategic Planning Group. He described the planning group as “the engine that will lead and shape an emerging strategy for North Clare”.

Wide consultation will take place over the coming months, Prof Curtin assured. “This will be a community-led and community-based strategy of North Clare, prepared by its people. While we have established a planning group, we will also be inviting people across the region to feed into the development of the strategy”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Joe Garrihy of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte explained that the project was “premised on the need for communities in North Clare to be ready for and be able to respond to change. We have seen dramatic changes in the region in recent years, for example to patterns of land usage and employment. We have observed increased centralisation of public services and employment opportunities, leading to substantial migration of our young from the region. And correspondingly, we have seen the decline and dilapidation of our villages and towns. We need to come together and be prepared”.

“We see the value of maximising the cross-community relationships that shape the viability of North Clare. Put simply, there are certain issues affecting the communities of North Clare that can only really be progressed by cross-community collaboration, issues such as rural broadband, affordable housing, traffic management, access to public services and a range of others.”

Darina Greene of CLDC believed the project was “novel and innovative”. She commented, “it will test the potential over a six-month period of a cross-community, strategic planning exercise in rural North Clare. Not only does the project present opportunities for substantial growth and development in the region, it affords an opportunity to learn from the development of a regional strategy, underpinned by the participation of the local community”.

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