Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC): planning policy and cross-border housing markets on the island of Ireland

Project summary:

On the island of Ireland, the number of people living in one jurisdiction and travelling to employment in the other continues to rise. People and goods move freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with Northern Ireland remaining part of the EU customs market as a consequence of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. There is currently renewed interest in Ireland’s eastern corridor – a concept first promoted 25 years ago by Sir George Quigley – with the recent launch of the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC) initiative, led by local government either side of the border.

Strategic planning policy on the island no longer stops at the border. Reflecting practice that exists in other European cross-border regions, consideration is made of development dynamics either side of the border in both the Regional Development Strategy 2035 for Northern Ireland, and the Dublin government’s Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework. It is therefore an opportune time to address a gap in the current understanding of relationships between planning policy and housing markets across what is now a UK-EU frontier and provide some insights into what the future might look like as the DBEC concept matures.

Aim and objectives

The aim of this project is to determine the extent to which current local and strategic planning policy on the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC) influences cross-border housing market dynamics, and how the DBEC concept may in future impact on policy and markets.


1. Examine current development (area) plans, and strategic planning policy, in the DBEC area in relation to housing provision

2. Identify current housing market trends in the DBEC area, including the dynamics influencing these trends

3. Establish the broad extent of a cross-border housing market in the DBEC area, including contributing factors and influences

4. Make recommendations for policy enhancements by DBEC local government partners, taking into consideration the potential future impact of the DBEC concept on housing and planning


The project will adopt a mixed-methods approach – interviews with planning and housing practitioners and analysis of planning applications, housing investment plans, etc.

Project team: Dr Neale Blair (Co-Investigator); Dr Joe Frey (Knowledge Exchange) in partnership with Dr Dáithí Downey (Dublin City Council); Dr Declan Redmond (University College Dublin); Claire Williamson (Ulster University) and Jordan Buchanan (PropertyPal)

Timeline: November 2021 – June 2022