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Population growth projections for Tullamore queried

Offaly council plan around 33% more people in town by 2027 not accepted by watchdog

The Office of the Planning Regulator expressed doubt about Offaly County Council’s draft development plan projecting the population of Tullamore as growing by 4,753 by 2027. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The State’s planning watchdog has questioned proposals by Offaly County Council to plan for a 33 per cent increase in the population of Tullamore over the next seven years.

The Office of the Planning Regulator expressed doubt if the council’s draft development plan which projects the population of Offaly’s county town will grow by 4,753 by 2027 was “sustainable”.

The OPR has raised a series of concerns about the local authority’s draft plan including projections of population growth across Offaly over the coming years.

The regulator pointed out that Tullamore was expected to account for more than half of all population growth in Offaly over the lifetime of the development plan.

Unidentified growth

It noted Offaly County Council was planning for a 33 per cent increase in Tullamore’s population by 2027 even though regional and national policy objectives had not identified growth in excess of 30 per cent for the town by 2040.

At the same time, the OPR questioned the appropriateness of the council providing for only a 5 per cent growth in population over the same period for Edenderry and Portarlington (which is located both in Offaly and Laois) given the recommended policy toward self-sustaining towns.

The OPR’s deputy regulator and director of plans evaluations, Anne Marie O’Connor, said the council needed to review and reconsider its overall allocation of population growth across all the settlements in the county using an evidence-based approach.

Plans to rezone a large landbank near the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co Offaly, to attract further businesses to the area were also opposed by the OPR.