Project Ireland 2040: National Planning Framework Launched

Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s overarching policy initiative, was formally launched in Sligo by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on 16th February 2018.

 As distinct from the previous National Spatial Strategy, Project Ireland 2040 comprises two parts:

  • The new National Planning Framework (NPF) shapes future growth and development of Ireland to the year 2040, by guiding public and private investment, creating opportunities for people and enhancing our environment; and
  • The new ten-year National Development Plan (NDP) underpins the NPF with €116 billion worth of investment.

The Government intends the NPF will be placed on a statutory footing when the Planning and the Development Bill, which is currently in the Seanad, is signed into law. The NPF forms the top tier of the national planning policy structure, accordingly establishing the policy context for the forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies and local level development plans.

Project Ireland 2040 seeks “to move away from the current, developer-led, business as usual pattern of development, to one informed by the needs and requirements of society. This means seeking to disrupt trends that have been apparent over the last fifty years and have accelerated over the past twenty”.

The NPF seeks to achieve ten strategic outcomes, building around the themes of wellbeing, equality and opportunity.  These ten shared priorities will ensure a consistent approach between planning objectives under the NPF and investment commitments under the NDP. 

The Strategic Outcomes comprise:

  1. Compact Growth
  2. Enhanced Regional Accessibility
  3. Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities
  4. Sustainable Mobility
  5. A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills
  6. High-Quality International Connectivity
  7. Enhanced Amenity and Heritage
  8. Transition to a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Society
  9. Sustainable Management of Water and other Environmental Resources
  10. Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services

Sustainability is at the heart of long term planning and the NPF seeks to ensure that the decisions we take today, meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The challenge of creating a more sustainable future for Ireland is a collective responsibility on all of us.

Notable objectives include:

  • The NPF seeks to ensure that rather than have excessive population growth focused on Dublin – as is the current trend - that 75% of all population growth occurs in the rest of the country.
  • The NPF supports ambitious growth targets to enable the four cities of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford to each grow by at least 50% to 2040 and to enhance their significant potential to become cities of scale. Furthermore, the NPF includes a specific objective to advance the ‘Atlantic Economic Corridor’ – increasing connectivity between Galway and major centres such as Sligo, Limerick and Cork through road and rail upgrades.
  • It recognises the extent to which Sligo in the North West and Athlone in the Midlands fulfil the role of regional centres. It recognises Letterkenny in the context of the North-West Gateway Initiative and Drogheda- Dundalk in the context of the Dublin- Belfast economic corridor
  • The NPF seeks to strengthen our rural fabric, by reversing town/village and rural population decline, by encouraging new roles and functions for buildings, streets and sites, and supporting the sustainable growth of rural communities, to include development in rural areas.
  • It targets a greater proportion (40%) of future housing development to be within and close to the existing ‘footprint’ of built-up areas.


Key initiatives/projects identified in the plan include:


  • The State will commit to the provision of 112,000 new social housing homes by 2027 costing €11.6 billion
  • Some 40 per cent of all new housing will be built in cities, towns and villages on infill and/or brownfield sites and 30 per cent elsewhere.
  • A new National Regeneration and Development Agency will be set up by local authorities to release strategically located land banks for redevelopment.


  • The State will commit €21.8 billion most of which will come from the semi-state or private sector in low-carbon.
  • It is proposed to upgrade the energy ratings of between 30,000 and 45,000 houses per annum from 2021.
  • The public bus fleet will be replaced with electric buses and the phasing out of those powered by diesel.
  • A total of €940 million will be committed to 29 Flood Risk Management Plans, which are to include flood relief schemes in Limerick city, Tralee, Dundalk, Carlingford and Drogheda.


  • There will be four development funds worth €4 billion over the 10-year period of the NDP.
  • A rural regeneration and development fund of €1 billion will promote rural renewal.
  • An Urban Regeneration and Development Fund worth €2 billion will support the development of the National Planning Framework (NPF) in the five largest cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.
  • There will also be a disruptive technologies innovation fund (€500 million) and the climate action fund (€500 million) under the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment.
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