THE IMPLICATIONS OF BREXIT FOR SPATIAL PLANNING ON THE ISLAND OF IRELAND

Research Theme: Cities, Communities and Contested Urbanism
Supervisors: Dr. Linda Fox-Rogers (l.fox-rogers@qub.ac.uk) and Dr. Brendan Murtagh (B.Murtagh@qub.ac.uk)

As the exist negotiations begin to unfold following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, intense scrutiny has arisen over the potential economic, political and social consequences of this unprecedented decision. The implications are particularly pronounced on the island of Ireland where Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland currently share a porous land border that facilitates free movement of people and goods across it. While much of the focus has centred on the economic and political repercussions, this project seeks to examine the implications for spatial planning in terms of promoting balanced and sustainable regional and economic development on an all-island basis.

In line with the broader ‘spatial turn’ in planning (Davoudi and Strange, 2009), spatial strategies in Northern Ireland and the Republic increasingly reflect the willingness of both administrations to work together in tackling planning and development issues that straddle the border. However, the prospect of continued coordination and cooperation in terms of stimulating  balanced regional development is unclear as it remains to be seen how the respective administrations will respond as the new political economic context arising from Brexit emerges:

  • Will inter-urban and regional competition between the North and South be intensified thus undermining strategic policy goals?
  • What barriers will planners and policy makers on both sides of the border be confronted with in terms of developing shared objectives?
  • Can spatial planning play a positive role in terms of facilitating continued cross-border collaboration on the island of Ireland?
  • To what extent can regional planning help address or mitigate some of the social and economic (and possible physical) barriers that may result from Brexit?
  • What are the conceptual implications for the European spatial planning project, multi-level governance and the need to address the frictional effects of spatial ‘disintegration’?

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