Central Border Region Spatial Planning Initiative

Colin McKenna – Manager of the Spatial Planning Initiative at its launch, Autumn 2010Spatial planning is the skill of making informed decisions on what can and should happen in our region. It’s a recognisation that many different policies and practices exist in making up our region. It’s does not focus on mere land use planning but looks at the factors that impact on everyday life. Spatial Planning investigates how it can assist a region to become competitive and sustainable. It also tries ensure that future national levels of investment are balanced.

For the ICBAN region it is about evaluating the range of activity and investment that occurs across our particular geographic space and using our knowledge to shape the future. It aims to ensure that both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Government’s policies and programmes will enable us to develop a sustainable future - one that works for all the different parts of our region and across national boundaries.

The Central Border Region Spatial Planning Initiative  which has been part-financed by the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and worth over £1 ½ million, is a drive to give this region a distinctiveness, something that it can be instantly associated with. It will also result in a document to compliment the National strategies of both governments, translating key strategies into local and regional actions, while at the same time serving to influence future government strategies, ensuring our region is not forgotten.<

Through the Spatial Planning Initiative we will:

  1. Develop a Vision Plan, drawing attention to both the issues and opportunities across different sectors and areas. The Vision Plan should also provide a framework for the implementation of any future national investment in the region, ensuring the Governments through its partners and agents develop policy in ways which take account of the different challenges and opportunities in this region;

  2. We will work together to address issues with a common purpose, through a programme of Civic & Political Collaboration. This will provide a basis and momentum for working together on a shared agenda locally, so that the ICBAN region can establish their own distinctive approaches to meet the objectives set.

  3. Develop an Identity for the Central Border Area./p>

There are 6 Key Strands of Activity:

STRAND 1: Establishment and maintenance of project implementation structures

This is to facilitate engagement by key stakeholders. Councillors and Council officials are represented throughout 6 working groups and at a Strategic level via the project Steering Committee. The groups are made up from key personnel also from the private sector or academics with a knowledge and interest in the following areas Planning, Regional Development, Social Inclusion, Telecomms, Sustainable Region, Roads.

STRAND 2: Central Border Area Data Capture Project

This is an important area of work and is necessary because through it we can access relevant data sets to inform spatial planning activities and ‘Vision’ for the Region’s future. It will require engaging with Cross-Border Groups and others to prevent duplication. This work requires a “Bottom-Up Approach” as the local groups have a clearer understanding of what is needed in the region. The end result should help to address the current ‘information gaps.

STRAND 3: Central Border Area Regional Vision Plan

Specific to the Central Border Area this document will provide a definitive analysis of future development opportunities, actions & investments, that the people who work and live in the region feel is required. This will look comprehensively at the future functionality of the region, in social, economic & environmental terms. The success of this document will rely on multi-level stakeholder consultation and buy-in. It will prepare a plan for the development of the region that will be of assistance to both national governments.

STRAND 4: Roads to Opportunity Business Case

It is more important than ever to keep a focus on this area of work and to be in a state of readiness if and when the opportunity for funding arises. To this end the East – West Corridor ie: A5/N2 and A4/N16 are the important routes that dissect our region. We wish to develop a strategic analysis of the potential economic benefits of these key transportation routes and highlight the opportunities missed by not having them. These routes are not merely important to the island as a whole but to links with Europe. It is important to get the infrastructure improved now as we are aware of Sustainable Future Transport Initiatives led by Europe will see a reduction on spend in this area. The main goal is to influence policy & spending priorities.

STRAND 5: Civic and Political Collaboration Programme

This is a series of Capacity Building Programmes for Elected Representatives, Council Officials & other Civic Stakeholders. It is a key networking programme affording all those involved to work across both jurisdictions and understand who the other works. It is to develop key social partner working groups. This underpins a new approach Regional Development. It will support collaborative joined up working in the region.

STRAND 6: Publicity and Communications Strategy

This area of work is about raising awareness and providing information on projects and activities being carried out by ICBAN and its member Councils under INTERREG IVA. ICBAN will implement a ‘Publicity and Communications Strategy’. It will be a vehicle to promote the INTERREG IVA Programme and maximise the potential of the Region. Crucially it will develop an ‘identity’ for the region and a brand for this Initiative.

Press release for the launch of the project