Chapter 7: Sustainable Mobility

Closed15 Apr, 2023, 8:00am - 29 May, 2023, 5:00pm

National and regional planning policy emphasises the efficient movement of people and goods, through an integrated multi-modal, accessible and affordable transport network. National Active Travel policy promotes reducing the demand for travel and the reliance on the private car in favour of public transport, car-pooling, cycling and walking as means to promote healthier lifestyles, climate change and improved air quality. A key objective of sustainable travel and its infrastructure is to ensure active travel is easily accessible and convenient for normal daily routines, including the commute to school, college or work.  A transition towards more sustainable modes of transport is essential to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions and reach the Government’s goal of a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net-Zero emissions by 2050.

Compact settlements are conducive to sustaining the critical mass of population or employees to justify infrastructural investment in transport networks.  Central to this is the application of the 10-minute town concept, whereby all community services, employment opportunities and residences are within walking distance, thereby not requiring transport by car.  A fundamental role of a Local Area Plan is to guide the location of land uses considering the integration of good land use planning with transportation.  This will unlock significant improvements in quality of life, including more sustainable modes of movement which also have a role in achieving climate targets.

Policy SMT P1: Integration of Land Use and Transport Policy - It is policy of the Council to:

Support and facilitate the integration of land use and transportation policies for Abbeyfeale, as a means of reducing the impact on climate change.  The Council will ensure the delivery of a sustainable compact settlement, which can be served by various modes of transport with a focus on reducing the need to travel.

Policy SMT P2: Transport and Movement - Promotion of Sustainable Patterns of Transport Use: It is policy of the Council to:

Seek to implement in a positive manner, in cooperation with other relevant stakeholders and agencies, the policies of the NPF, RSES and the Department of Transport’s Active Travel publications, to encourage more sustainable patterns of travel and greater use of sustainable forms of transport in Abbeyfeale, including public transport, cycling and walking.

7.1 Movement and Accessibility

7.1.1     N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme

Improved accessibility between the Mid-West and South-West regions and the Atlantic Economic Corridor is identified as a major enabler for balanced regional development in the National Planning Framework - a key element in the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Strategy.  Limerick City and County Council is progressing the development of the N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme in partnership with Kerry County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Department of Transport. The aim of the scheme is to relieve congestion on the N21 Limerick to Tralee Road through Abbeyfeale, improving the quality of life of commuters and local residents.  The Mid-West Road Design Office have published a preferred route and are continuing to progress this scheme.

7.1.2     Local Access Routes and Parking

The Council is committed to the development of a network of access routes reflecting the requirements of personal safety, choice and convenience to services and amenities.  The access network should facilitate access for all, and be socially inclusive.  The requirement and desire to minimise dependence on the car for short journeys, requires that permeable places are developed throughout Abbeyfeale.  This plan supports the enhancement of the existing walking and cycling routes, as well as the upgrade and creation of new linkages within the town. 

7.1.3     Traffic Management Scheme for Abbeyfeale

In order to enhance the traffic management in Abbeyfeale town centre, the Council have prepared a traffic management scheme for the town centre.  The purpose of implementing the scheme is to improve the public realm of the town centre in terms of improved traffic management, better access to car parking, improved pedestrian links and the provision of dedicated bus parking. This traffic management scheme has undergone the necessary consent process and has been formulated with significant consultation with local community and business owners in Abbeyfeale. The Council will seek to implement the traffic management scheme, subject to funding, in conjunction with the local community in Abbeyfeale.

Figure 7.1: Abbeyfeale Traffic Management Scheme

The scheme once implemented will have a positive effect in the town and enhance the experience for both local people, residents and visitors coming to the town through; improved traffic management for the through flow of traffic in the town; improved car parking arrangements; enhanced access to the Grove Crescent car park; increased number of dedicated bus parking in the centre of the town and improved vehicular traffic movement along Colbert Terrace following the demolition of buildings and road widening. Improvements in the public realm will also provide additional amenity space for the community.

Figure 7.2: Illustrative image from the Traffic Management Scheme for Main Street, Abbeyfeale

Abbeyfeale is readily accessible by a number of regional roads - northwards to Athea and Glin (R523), westwards to Duagh and Listowel (R555), and southwards to Mountcollins (R576). The Council seeks to protect the carrying capacity and safety of these strategic roads.  The Main Street is part of the national road network (N21).  Development proposals accessing the N21 in the town shall adhere to the TII Traffic and Transportation Guidelines and any subsequent replacement.

7.1.4 Limerick Greenway Connectivity Active Travel Scheme

To promote active travel modes, offering opportunities to commute through the Limerick Greenway to other settlements, healthy active lifestyles and support the tourism potential of the town centre, the Council is seeking to provide a safe and convenient connectivity between the town centre and the Limerick Greenway.   

Objective SM 01: Movement and Accessibility:  It is an objective of the Council to

  1. Enhance the walking and cycling networks through the town within the lifetime of the Plan and seek to improve direct pedestrian linkages, cycle networks and infrastructure throughout the town and improve connectivity to the town centre and existing services.
  2. Deliver the Traffic Management Scheme for the town within the lifetime of the Plan. High quality public realm will be required as part of any town centre redevelopment.
  3. Facilitate school zone measures, including slow zones around the schools, and promote/facilitate active travel options for students to reduce the health and safety risks associated with traffic congestion, pollution and inactive lifestyles. 
  4. Incorporate Sustainable Travel measures in all new developments in the town.
  5.  Support the progression of the N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme to provide improved regional connectivity and ensure future development proposals do not compromise the development of this scheme.
  6. Support the progression of enhancing connectivity between the Limerick Greenway and the town centre by safe walkway/cycleway route, subject to the necessary environmental assessments.
  7. Deliver a footpath on the Clash Road to connect existing and proposed development to the town centre.
  8. Protect the capacity of the national and regional road network from inappropriate development, having regard to all relevant Government guidance and Objective TR 041 Strategic Regional Roads of the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028 and ensure development does not compromise the performance of the network or future improvements to the network.  Road Safety Audits and Traffic Impact Assessments will be required to demonstrate implications of development proposals on the national and regional road network.
  9. Restrict advertising signage adjacent to the national road networks, in accordance with Section 3.8 of the Spatial Planning and National Roads Guidelines, 2012 and any subsequent replacement.
  10. Ensure all developments protect and safeguard the capacity and efficiency of the drainage regimes of the regional and local network.
  11. Support the provisions set out in the 2020 DMURS Interim Advice Note – Covid-19 Pandemic Response.
  12. Transport infrastructure projects that are not already permitted or provided for by existing plans/programmes, shall be subject to the undertaking of feasibility assessment, taking into account planning need and the policies and objectives of the Draft Plan relating to sustainable mobility. Where feasibility is established, a Corridor and Route Selection Process will be undertaken, where relevant appropriate, in two stages: Stage 1 – Route Corridor Identification, Evaluation and Selection; and Stage 2 – Route Identification, Evaluation and Selection. New transport infrastructure will be considered subject to environmental constraints as identified in the SEA Environmental Report, including those related to habitats and potential impacts (e.g. disturbance from lighting). This will include minimising river crossings, avoiding sensitive habitats, not increasing barriers to flood waters and sustainable design and construction techniques.

7.2        Achieving Modal Shift    

In order to achieve more sustainable travel patterns, a significant focus on reducing car dependency and increasing permeability is required as promoted by higher-level spatial plans.   These behavioural changes will contribute to healthier lifestyles, lower greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, and increase footfall through the town.  Vehicles often dominate the streets and vehicle movement can be detrimental to vibrancy and livability of the town, as well as depleting public realm and creating safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists. Redesigning our streets to prioritise walking, cycling and other non-motorised wheel-based modes is just one crucial aspect of enabling and creating a modal shift from the private car.  We also need to support individual citizens to make the choice to active travel through behavioural change projects and support initiatives. 

In line with national transport and planning policy, the Council welcomes any improvement to public transport services and infrastructure within the lifetime of this Plan.  Abbeyfeale is served by two Bus Eireann routes, Limerick to Killarney and Limerick to Tralee and by Local Link Limerick to Newcastle West and Mountcollins.  Improvements to connectivity for the daily commute to the wider region and employment and educational centres are encouraged by the Council to improve accessibility to the opportunities for employment and education facilities.

According to the 2016 Census, 21% of persons aged 5 years + walked to work, school or college in Abbeyfeale.  In the 2011 Census, this mode of commute accounted for 24% of daily commutes.  Less than 1% cycled in 2016 as was the case in the 2011 Census.  In the 2011 Census 3.8% of commuters took the bus and by 2016 this had decreased marginally to 3.4%.  The car is still the dominant means of travelling to work, school or college in Abbeyfeale and either as a driver or as a passenger it accounts for 50% of journeys.  In 2011, 58% of commuters travelled by car as a passenger or driver.  According to Powscar (2016), 1,052 people commute into Abbeyfeale daily and 353 people commute out of the town daily.  Abbeyfeale has the largest proportion of residents in County Limerick who live and work in the town (51%).

These Census figures are substantially below current national policy for modern transport, including active travel.  With a compact settlement offering a range of residential choice, access to the services and amenities that Abbeyfeale currently processes, supports for better connectivity, and choice of mode of movement in a safe, efficient and affordable integrated mobility network there is potential for Abbeyfeale to progress towards reaching the national targets for more sustainable travel.


The Limerick Development Plan 2022 – 2028 sets the following targets for the modal shift for Level 3 settlements, which includes Abbeyfeale.




Public Transport

Settlement Levels 3-6/Rural Areas (All Work/Education Trips)




Table 5: Mode Shift Targets for commute to work, school or college, by 2028 – Limerick Development Plan 2022 – 2028


While, there are challenges facing Abbeyfeale, with regard to promoting a modal shift away from the private car, this Local Area Plan strives to reduce the reliance on the private car, by promoting and facilitating more sustainable modes of transport, based on the principles of the 10 minute town concept, a compact settlement and the town centre first approach. Continued improvements to Limerick Greenway, including improved pedestrian and cyclist access between the Greenway and the town centre will support sustainable movement with settlements including Listowel, and Newcastle West.  The Council will co-operate closely with other relevant agencies and stakeholders, including the NTA and TII to address modal shift targets as above.

Objective SM 02: Modal Shift and Behavioural Change: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Encourage, promote and facilitate a modal shift towards more sustainable forms of transport in Abbeyfeale, including the Limerick Greenway.
  2. Support and facilitate implementation of an integrated, multi-modal and accessible public transport network for Abbeyfeale and its hinterland.