National Planning Framework must be realistic, says Varadkar

‘A plan that is not realistic is not any use to anyone,’ says Taoiseach ahead of Cabinet meeting

Leo Varadkar has said the NPF must be realistic. Photograph: Eric Luke

Leo Varadkar has said the NPF must be realistic. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted the National Planning Framework (NPF) needs to be realistic insisting every town cannot become a city.

Speaking ahead of a special Cabinet meeting, Mr Varadkar confirmed the plan had been substantially redrafted over recent months to reflect concerns by rural TDs and Ministers.

The framework, he said, will seek to rebalance development away from Dublin and towards other cities like Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

Mr Varadkar said: “A plan that is not realistic is not any use to anyone. When I hear people talking about turning every town into a city and every village into town, and railways to everywhere, that would not be viable and would require massive subvention at the expense of our health budget and our education budget.

“We do not need that plan, we have had that before. It needs to be realistic but also needs to do exactly what we want it to do which is rebalance development away from Dublin and building up our other cities.”

The NPF provides the blueprint for the development of our national infrastructure over the next 25 years.

It is due to be published within the next few months by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, alongside the capital plan.

A draft plan has been criticised by rural TDs, who claim it is focused primarily on Dublin.

Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme on Monday he was unhappy with the initial draft.

However he said rural Ireland will now get its “fair share of the cake” after several meetings with Mr Murphy.

“People make a living out of knocking rural Ireland. Rural Ireland is alive and well. It needs some services, but there is no doubt that it has a bright future.”

Meanwhile, concerned Opposition TDs will hold a public meeting in the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone at 8pm on Monday.

Opposition TDs have been highly critical of the draft version of the framework, saying it is leaving behind rural Ireland and towns outside the main urban areas.