Read and submit ideas to new Laois county development plan online
Laois people with an interest in the future of the county could make a real change to its development in the coming weeks, from home.
Laois County Council is inviting submissions or suggestions from the public on its new County Development Plan 2021-2027, and the entire draft of the document - some 300 pages long - is easy to view online on their website, broken down into different buttons.
Every local authority has to draw up a new plan every six years, a legal framework to guide developments from single rural houses to industrial windfarms. It also gives undertakings on how to support Laois villages, businesses, tourism, nature and heritage.
The new plan comes at a time of big change in Laois, as the county's recent rapid development reels from the effect of Covid-19. It has a big 'green' focus throughout, and a new chapter called 'Climate Change and Energy'.
The following is part of the introduction.
"The Plan is being prepared at a time when the national economy has emerged from a sustained period of contraction and is showing strong signs of continued growth. However the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Irish society and the economy has resulted in a reimagination of how we live, work and socialize. There have been widescale job losses in areas such as accommodation, food, arts and entertainment, however for a county like Laois, remote working opportunities have arisen with people commuting less and working from home or from co working spaces in the county. The national unemployment rate stood at 14.7 per cent in September 2020 which is much higher than the pre-pandemic level.
"On a social side, local tourist attractions, recreational spaces and walks/ cycling routes have become better utilized during the course of the Pandemic which has informed how we plan for the future in the plan. The outlook for the next plan period is uncertain due to the combined risk of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and a no-deal Brexit.
"The main purpose of the Plan is to set out a framework for the sustainable spatial and physical development of the County Laois while considering the conservation and protection of the built and natural environment, over the period of the Plan and beyond. It also aims to carefully consider all the needs of society, its individuals and groups."
Once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, hard copies can be viewed in the council head office in Portlaoise and at all Laois libraries.
In the meantime, public webinars will be held for anyone to register and take part online from home. Dates not yet announced.
Submissions are accepted, either online or posted to the council offices at Aras an Chontae, James Fintan Lalor Avenue, Portlaoise, until March 23.