Daly, Gavin and Kitchin, Rob
Shrink smarter? Planning for spatial
selectivity in population growth
Administration, 60 (3).
One of the most fundamental but overlooked questions in shaping a national
territorial-development strategy is how to manage spatial development in
regions that have not been selected for new growth. The Irish National Spatial
Strategy (NSS) is ostensibly a policy exercise in spatial selectivity where clear
choices have been made as to where to target future population growth. The
failure of policy to implement the NSS to date can be largely attributed to the
difficult political process in practice of identifying 'winners' and 'losers'. In
order to achieve the public consensus required for effective implementation,
a revised strategy will need to pay greater attention to the residual regions.
This will require a greater societal acceptance that population growth cannot
occur everywhere, and that population decline and stagnation may become the
normal pathway for some regions. This paper explores planning governance
models of how to manage decline, drawing on the emerging international
research agenda of 'shrinkage planning' and 'de growth', and how this might be
applied in the Irish context. In so doing, the paper provides policymakers with
the genesis of a new conceptual toolbox and opens up new research questions
as to how to proactively design and accommodate depopulation.
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