1: Fingal in Context/Operating Environment
Fingal is a highly attractive place to live, work, visit and to do business. It comprises a geographical area of 450 sq.km. (173 sq. miles) stretching from Balbriggan to Blanchardstown and over to Howth. The area is defined by the diversity of its landscape. It has rural, urban and suburban locations all rolled into one county. There is 88km of coastline stretching from Sutton to Balbriggan, three large protected estuaries and salt marsh habitats and 13 major beaches.
Fingal is a place of rich cultural heritage and has developed some of the major assets of the county as visitor attractions including Ardgillan Castle, Newbridge House, Malahide Castle & Gardens and Skerries Mills. The development of the Swords Cultural Quarter will be a welcome addition to our heritage. The County has a rich tradition in arts and culture. This has been supported by Fingal County Council in establishing the Draíocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown and the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre in Naul. Community participation through residents associations, tidy towns groups and community groups are all an invaluable part of the development of Fingal.
We have many economic advantages on our doorstep. The Port Tunnel, road and rail infrastructure, our proximity to Dublin City and our location on the Dublin-Belfast Economic corridor will contribute to future growth in the County. Dublin Airport offers one of our best strategic advantages and is a significant economic hub in Fingal.
The County has its own Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown (ITB) and has forged very good links with Dublin City University. The ITB will form part of Dublin Technological University (DTU) during the lifespan of the Corporate Plan.
Local government is close to the citizen and Fingal County Council provides a wide range of services and facilities from roads infrastructure to parks, open spaces, community centres, libraries and housing.
Fingal County Council celebrated 20 years in existence in 2014. During this time the population of the County has grown from 167,683 (Census 1996) to 273,997 (2011 census) with 29% of the population under 18 and 45% under 30. It is estimated that Fingal’s population will be over 300,000 by the 2016 census an increase of approx. 9.5%. By 2021 the population is expected to be over 330,000.
From Fingal’s annual housecount survey conducted in July 2014 it is estimated that there are 102,647 residential units in the County. This can be broken down into 96,049 residential units in urban areas and 6,598 in rural areas including villages.
In mid-2014 there were over 1,000 units at various stages of construction. In addition, there were over 12,000 units with planning permission throughout the county which had not started construction. There is sufficient zoned land to accommodate, approximately, a further 31,000 units.
The Regional Planning Guidelines set the housing targets for the Greater Dublin Area. The current targets indicate Fingal should have 142,144 units by 2022.
The number of active businesses in Fingal is determined from the Council’s rate base. Table 1 shows the number of rateable businesses has increased by 4.5% from 2010 – 2014.
The County is renowned for its horticultural and agri-business sector. We have some of the best producers in the country who export as far away as China. It is a strategic priority of this Council to support businesses in the further development of this sector. Internationally we will continue to provide an environment to attract high level foreign direct investment and encourage indigenous companies to grow. This will be a priority over the next 5 years. The County is a major employer across all sectors with a strong supply of zoned land both industrial and residential. We have established a strong industrial base, with recognised clustering of various business sectors and we will continue to develop and promote Fingal as a place to do business.
The Fingal Development Plan 2011-2017 breaks the county into 21 different zoning types. The entire county is covered by a designated zoning. There are essentially four broad zonings, each broken down into sub-categories. The four broader zoning types can be categorised as Economic, Residential, Mixed Use/Other and Rural and Recreation. Under each category the Council has a good amount of zoned land across the various zone types. (See Appendix 3 for a list of zones broken down by type and land area (ha).
Environmental Scan of Fingal County Council
An analysis of the political, economic, social and technological (PEST) factors helps to inform on some of the key strategic priorities of the Council.
Political – Some of the strategic priorities for the council have been set out in recent Government Legislation and Programmes. Specifically, “Putting People First, Action
Programme for Effective Local Government” and the Local Government Reform Act 2014 have set out many initiatives to strengthen the working of Local Government. These set out the need for a strengthened collaboration between the Executive and the Elected Members in areas of economic, community and local development.
Economic – National and international economic trends influence enterprise development in Fingal and our ability to attract foreign direct investment to the County. Ireland is now ahead of planned fiscal targets and the road to recovery in the Irish economy is underway. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2009 at 11% and is expected to fall below 10% in 2015. It is anticipated that by 2016 there will be over 2 million people in employment. The evidence of the growing economy can be seen in the improvement in public finances and an anticipated real GNP growth in 2015 of 4.6%.
The 2006 and 2011 census shows that unemployment rates in Fingal reflect the national position and remain a challenge.
The key sectors of business operating in the Fingal area include the Information & Communication Technology sector comprising some of the world’s leading companies such as Synopsys, IBM, PayPal and Symantec. The Aviation sector is a major employer and includes Aer Lingus, Dublin Airport Authority, Cityjet, Servisair and Ryanair. The Food & Beverage/Agribusiness Sector, a growing industry in Fingal, includes Keelings, Coco-Cola, Sam Dennigan and Donnellys. The Healthcare/Pharmaceutical sector includes leading companies Bristol Myers-Squibb and Mylan.
Social – Fingal is ethnically diverse, almost 22% of the population identifying with an ethnic group other than white and Irish. We have a young, well-educated and growing population which positions us well to continue to be a dynamic County. Creating the environment to increase employment in Fingal is a key objective of this Council.
Technological - embracing new developments in technology will mean Fingal County Council is ready to deliver more online services, Open Data and use communication channels such as social media better in order to keep our citizens informed and allow them access services as effectively as possible.
The challenges that the economic downturn brought to Fingal County Council were no different to any organisation or company over the past number of years. The staff reduction from 1600 to 1251 required a series of organisational restructuring in order to ensure that services could be maintained at reasonable levels. Fingal is fortunate in having a committed and flexible staff which has made the complete realignment of the organisation possible.
Increased efficiencies have been and will continue to be achieved through innovative and enabling technology. Prudent management of finances made it possible to present a progressive budget to the Members in November 2014.
In order to improve customer responsiveness a review of customer service is underway and will be completed in 2015. In addition succession planning is being undertaken in order to address the loss of corporate knowledge associated with retirements. This is necessary because of the high age profile in the organisation.
We also need to strengthen our competence and skills in how we promote and market the investments made by Fingal County Council on behalf of the citizen.