A new planning report by Dr. Brian Hughes, a development expert, says the latest census figures show that the population of the greater Drogheda area is 83,000 meaning that the Louth town has a larger population than that of Waterford city, and should, therefore, be granted city status.
Dr Hughes, has been studying the development of the area for more than five years, and has argued that the greater Drogheda area, twice the size of Co. Longford and including neighbouring towns of Laytown, Bettystown, and Mornington in east Meath, matches up to the criteria of the EU Commission and the OECD for city status because of population density per kilometre and exceeds numbers in excess of 50,000 people. To give a scale of the development of the town, the report also reveals that the municipal borough of Drogheda has increased by almost 80 percent over two decades, rising from 46,451 to 83,042.
The report, which reached near identical conclusions to a similar report written by Dr. Hughes five years ago, has now been submitted to the Government for inclusion in the national planning framework that will guide planning decisions across the country up to 2040.
A group called Drogheda City Status has been lobbying for ten years to end what it calls the “nightmare” dual administration of the two. Vincent Hoey, chairman of the group expands on this point; “We are living in an urban conglomeration of over 80,000 people but we have no effective joined-up thinking to plan sensibly for the future because our local government is divided between Meath and Louth.
According to Dr. Hughes; “The Belfast-Dublin economic corridor is growing at a major pace. Drogheda, thanks to its air, motorway, sea and rail links, is growing faster than anywhere else along this corridor.”
“But we look like we are going to repeat the sins of the past by not providing practical, administrative urban districts. What worries me is the published draft framework proposal ignored Drogheda’s city status request. This is despite the fact that in seeking submissions, the Government said the final policy would be based on evidence. They have the evidence in his report. They need to act and act now.”