National Spatial Strategy

This National Spatial Strategy for Ireland (NSS) was written as a twenty year planning framework designed to achieve a better balance of social, economic, physical development and population growth between regions. Its focus is on people, on places and on building communities. Through closer matching of where people live with where they work, different parts of Ireland will for the future be able to sustain

  • a better quality of life for people
  • a strong, competitive economic position and
  • an environment of the highest quality.  

The Strategy is

  • national – it provides a national framework to guide policies, programmes and investment
  • spatial – it is concerned with the location of people, their work and other activities and with how different places relate to each other
  • strategic – it offers a broad, long-term, comprehensive twenty-year view for achieving more balanced patterns of development.  

The National Spatial Strategy designates the following growth poles

  • Cork as a regional Gateway City, and the main driver for the development of the south of Ireland; and
  • Mallow as a Hub to support the development of Cork City and to link Cork and Limerick.  

The NSS has had a strong influence on the National Development Plan which sets out spending priorities for the state [see below] and also the Regional Planning frameworks [see above]. In addition, in order to progress the implementation of the strategy the following have been developed:

  • Gateway Innovation fund;
  • Atlantic Gateways Initiative, which is seeking to influence the delivery of a real counterpole to Dublin in the form of a combined group of cities, including Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway. 

The document and further details about the National Spatial Strategy 2004-2020 and related documents and programmes can be found at