The report, launched by an Taoiseach and the Housing Minister last week, makes for tough reading for most of rural Ireland. It charts the gradual decline of rural businesses, communities, towns and villages. The simple reality is that when money leave an area, the people must surely follow. And this is exactly what happened. Today, close to half of all economic activity (49%) is generated in Dublin, which is pulling the labour force away from their home counties and closer to the capital. That figure is particularly worrying when you compare it to our closest neighbours; London generates only 32% of England’s economic activity.
We have been hearing about a two-tier country since the early days of the property crash and here in the South East, we know first-hand that recovery is not happening in a fair, uniform way. But this report forecasts where the population will be by 2040 if these trends continue, and it’s not good news for the majority of the country.
As we can see from the above image, all parts of counties Wicklow and Wexford are likely to benefit from this over the coming years and decades as the commuter-belt widens.
Over the past 20 years, half of the population growth in the entire State has been in and around the Dublin area. Without some big changes, this number is set to jump to 75% of population growth happening in that region by 2040. This is dire news for many but the South East is now looking more and more attractive, and not just for home buyers and investors. Businesses looking for a base outside of the capital, healthcare providers, education centres and other service providers are likely to come in this direction.
The work, development and investment cluster will not necessarily happen in Dublin. In fact, the report suggests that Dublin is or will become ‘the Dublin City Region’, extending into 10 other counties from Cavan to Wexford.
This report will impact hugely on our local planning over the next few years. As more commuters look south of Dublin and Wicklow, into Wexford, we must ensure that we have enough homes, hospital beds, school places and other necessary facilities for our growing population. For investors looking to buy strategically, Wexford offers particular value for money with ever-increasing potential for capital value appreciation.
Finally, there is a new State plan to save our rural towns and villages underway, this plan includes grants and incentives for buyers to restore derelict homes, and we’ll talk more about this next week.