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Economic Development & Employment

Economic Development and the Role of the Council

Economic development and employment underpins the vitality and viability of our towns, villages and rural areas. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides for a stronger role for local government in economic development. This includes the preparation of a Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP). The LECP, a six-year evidence informed plan, is the Council’s overarching policy document for economic development. It identifies goals and includes measures necessary to promote and support community and economic development in the County. The LECP must be consistent with the objectives of the County Development Plan.

Economic Development and the County Development Plan

The County Development Plan includes a Chapter on Economic Development which sets out the spatial framework for economic development. Sustainable economic development requires balance in terms of location and diversity of economic activity, as well as the protection of the environment and people’s quality of life. The County Development Plan has the following key functions in relation to economic development:

  • To set out a planning framework for economic development that is in line with the provisions of the Core Strategy;
  • Ensuring an adequate supply of zoned and serviced land for employment;
  • Developing a strategy for retail;
  • Promoting and facilitating an overall improvement in the quality of life in all parts of the County;
  • Supporting education facilities and the knowledge economy;
  • Facilitating and promoting entrepreneurial activity;
  • Supporting employment growth around Wicklow’s natural resources;
  • Supporting key sectors for growth.

Since the adoption of the current County Development Plan, the economy has continued to improve. Census 2016 revealed that there are 59,134 persons at work, accounting for 41.5% of the population. Unemployment has continued to reduce with the total number on the live register amounting to 6,040 (July 2019) down from 9,459 in July 2016. According to the Census, the number of persons at work has risen since 2011 but is still below 2006 levels.

Census Year Persons ar Work % of the Population
2016 59134 41.5%
2011 52907 39%
2006 57356 45%


Wicklow has many competitive advantages including its strategic location in the GDA with access to Dublin Airport and Dublin Port, strategic transport links including Euro Route E01 (M/N11) Belfast to Rosslare and the DART, highly skilled and educated workforce, proximity to a range of universities and third level institutes, strong and attractive towns and villages which have capacity to accommodate new economic development and expand employment opportunities, a thriving tourism industry and a strong creative and cultural industry sector.

Jobs Ratio

The Jobs Ratio is the ratio between the number of jobs in the County to the number of people in the workforce resident in the County. The National Planning Framework used the Jobs Ratio as an indicator for analysing settlements. The analysis showed that many of the towns within the Dublin city region function mainly as commuter towns with large resident populations and limited employment. The 2016 – 2022 County Development Plan aimed to increase the ‘Jobs Ratio’ from 42% in 2011 to 60% in 2028.

Place-making and Economic Development

The National Planning Framework recognises that there are critical links between the quality of urban place-making and business investment / job creation. The ability to attract new business to an area is dependent on many factors, the obvious ones being land availability, infrastructure and accessibility. In addition to these elements, the attractiveness of an area and sense of place are increasingly being promoted with a view to realising economic potential and attracting new investment. Wicklow’s towns have a strong sense of place and character which is largely based on their historic streetscapes and scenic settings. It is important to embrace the character of our towns and villages and promote them as locations for new economic development.

Rural Development

The CEDRA Report 2014 – ‘Energising Ireland’s Rural Economy’, recognised that the changing nature of rural areas means that rural economic development is not amenable to single sector strategies but requires new integrated approaches to economic development. The report acknowledges that ‘there is an abundance of natural, physical, human and capital resources and a wide variety of high quality, including dormant assets in many rural communities that could be leveraged to support national economic growth and the development t of these communities’.

Realising our Rural Potential: The Action Plan for Rural Development 2017 aims to unlock the potential of rural areas through a framework of supports at national and local level which will ensure that people who live in rural areas have increased opportunities for employment locally, access to public services and social networks that support a high quality of life.

The County Development Plan will include policy and objectives to ensure that Wicklow’s rural areas capitalise on their potential while protecting the environmental assets that define their character and value. Rural diversification opportunities are vital for sustaining a viable rural economy. However, a balance needs to be maintained between facilitating appropriate forms of rural development and protecting the rural environment.

Economic Dev 

What do you think?

  • What are your views on economic development in County Wicklow? What competitive advantages need to be protected and / or enhanced to sustain and grow economic development?
  • What measures can be put in place to ensure Wicklow is viewed as a more attractive employment base?
  • How can the Plan promote and facilitate new economic opportunities?
  • Where should economic development be located?
  • Do you think brownfield sites should be promoted for new economic development?
  • Are there new ways of working that should be facilitated in the Plan e.g. co-working hubs, working from home, live-work units,
  • How can the County’s rural economy be diversified to sustain rural areas?
  • Are there adequate policies in place to protect the countryside from commercial / industrial / economic development?
  • What type of economic development is appropriate for rural areas?