Strategic Spatial Planning and the Provision of Schools: A Case Study of Cross-Sectoral Policy
Coordination in the Dublin City-Region (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 62.
NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis.
This paper addresses the actual and potential role of strategic spatial planning in the context of
educational infrastructure provision. Specifically, the paper focuses on the planning and provision of
primary schools in the Dublin city-region in the context of rapid demographic and social change. The
recent economic boom period has been accompanied by a rapid pace of population growth and
significant shifts in the demographic composition of society in Ireland and the Dublin city-region, in
particular. The analytical focus on planning for the provision of schools constitutes a critical case
study of strategic spatial planning in practice. In particular, planning for school provision represents
a policy domain where coordination between spatial planning and sectoral policy (i.e. education)
functions is required in order to ensure the planning and provision of infrastructure to service the
needs of expanding urban and peri-urban residential communities. Although, in most cases, schools
are not required for development to proceed1, the need for additional school places may be
particularly acute where residential development is accompanied by in-migration of households with
a younger than average age profile and high proportion of young children. This paper outlines the
challenges and problems associated with the practice of planning primary school provision in the
Dublin city-region as well as critically assessing specific policy measures that have been introduced
with the objective of improving the capacity of the state to respond to the need for new schools in
areas of urban and peri-urban expansion. The analysis in this paper draws on qualitative interviews
conducted by the author in 2008 and 2009.
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