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Town and Village Centres & Retail

Wicklow has an extensive network of towns and villages which perform a variety of roles and functions for their residents and the wider rural hinterlands. These centres have evolved over long periods of time. The historic fabric of the streetscapes and variety of uses give these towns and villages their identity and define their character.  

Town Centre Renewal

Town and village centres have experienced significant challenges to retain vibrancy and vitality. The reasons vary but among them are competition from larger centres that are more accessible, the rise in out of town shopping centres and the changing nature of retail and consequent rise in online shopping. The challenges facing town and village centres are evident in the number of vacant units in some towns. It is a policy of the National Planning Framework to target the reversal of decline in the core of towns and villages through sustainable targeted measures that address vacant premises and deliver sustainable reuse and regeneration outcomes. Town and village centres throughout the county need to be dynamic and able to evolve to accommodate new uses. This is essential for their continued vitality. The reuse and regeneration of vacant buildings is an essential catalyst to transform the capacity and potential of our smaller towns and villages.

Retail Development

Retail is a fundamental element of town vitality and it is important that town and village centres retain retailing as a core function. The Development Plan must outline the level and form of retail activity appropriate to the various level of settlement and define by way of a map the boundaries of the core shopping areas. In accordance with national policy guidance, the County Development Plan promotes a sequential approach to retail development. This means that the overall preferred location for retail development is within town centres. Only in exceptional circumstances, where it can be demonstrated that there are no available sites within the town or village centres, will edge of centre or out of town sites be considered. The Development Plan must include appropriate objectives to allow for the expansion of the retail sector in a manner which protects and improves the vitality and viability of the town centres. The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy identifies a retail hierarchy for the region and the new County Development Plan must be consistent with this.

Retail Hierarchy
Level 1 Metropolitan Centre
Dublin City Centre
Level 2 Major Town Centre & County Town Centres
Bray, Wicklow Town
Level 3 Town and/or District Centres & Sub-County Town Centres
Greystones, Arklow, Blessington, Baltinglass, Rathdrum & Newtownmountkennedy
Level 4 Neighbourhood Centres, Local Centres & Small Towns and Villages
Level 5 Corner Shops / Small Villages



What do you think?

  • What measures are required to make our towns and villages more vibrant and attractive as places to live in, work in, shop and visit?
  • How can the Plan improve retail vibrancy in Wicklow’s towns and villages?
  • What can we do about vacant units in our towns and village centres?
  • What scale of retail development is appropriate for Wicklow’s towns and villages?
  • Is there a shortage of retail in the County?
  • Have previous plans been successful in guiding retail development to the right locations?
  • How can retail spend be retained in the County?