The communities within the Ballyhoura area first came together in 1988 as a reaction to the continued decline of services and employment opportunities in the area. The aim was to develop a locally focused, area-based, integrated local development strategy that would contribute positively to the economic and social well-being of individuals and the sustainability of their communities. It was their hope that the local development strategy would enable positive engagement with the public and private bodies and organisations operating in the area, to implement a range of community led social and economic improvements.

 The first Local development strategy was developed prior to the emergence of the pilot European Union LEADER community led local development approach. The strategy was the corner stone of a successful Ballyhoura Development LEADER pilot in 1992 and the communities, though Ballyhoura Development, have led the design and development of successive local development strategies since then.