Tipperary and Clare councillors and council staff at the launch of the Ballina / Killaloe enhancement programme
In a hands across the border initiative between Tipperary and Clare, a joint town enhancement, tourism and mobility plan has been revealed.
The plan will facilitate a coordinated approach to public realm enhancements within Ballina and Killaloe, providing a clear vision for the towns as linked settlements.
The initiative has been welcomed by Nenagh Municipal District Council cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Morris.
“Ballina and Killaloe are towns with significant potential given their strategic location on the River Shannon. The improvement in infrastructure with the anticipated delivery of the Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme gives an opportunity to us to strengthen the links between the two towns and to build on existing interdependencies and co-operation for the benefit of the local economy,” he said.
Under the plan, specific measures, designs and schemes will promote the towns’ complementarity, and create an overall focus on their joint strengths and opportunities in terms of functionality and aesthetics.
The plan is a strategic priority for both authorities.
The Tipperary input is led by Brian Beck, senior planner, Tipperary County Council, and Marcus O’Connor, director of services and district manager, Nenagh Municipal District. The Clare team is led by Brian McCarthy, senior planner, Clare County Council, with Anne Haugh, director of Service and area manager, Killaloe Municipal District.
The plan is being prepared by a design team led by consultants Downey Planning & Architecture, and is expected to take six months to prepare.
A key objective in the North Tipperary County Development Plan is to work in partnership with Clare County Council in co-ordinating balanced development and the promotion of Killaloe and Ballina as linked settlements.
Central to all future developments is the €42m Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme, which will provide a western bypass for Killaloe town, a new bridge crossing of the River Shannon and an upgraded link between the twin towns and the M7 at Birdhill.
This strategy aims to have a plan already prepared and in place to guide the settlements post-operation of the bypass.
The plan will comprise a number of components, including:
nA Sustainable Mobility Plan / Strategy
nA Place Making and Public Realm Plan / Strategy and Street Furniture Design Guide (lighting/surface treatment), which will provide an analysis of the towns with a particular focus on the town centres.
nA Tourism Strategy; tourism plays a significant role in the local economy of both Killaloe and Ballina.
nIdentification of initiatives that will encourage an increase in commercial activity on the towns’ main streets.
nPublic realm enhancement, traffic management, car-parking and pedestrian connectivity to the town centres from the residential, educational, community, public spaces and tourism facilities will be considered in this context.
Mr O’Connor said that the Lough Derg Marketing Strategy recognised the importance in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands of the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe.
“These are areas of significant amenity with high quality facilities to attract both national and international tourists,” he said.
The director of services pointed out that the towns were also steeped in rich heritage and culture.
“It is crucial that their further development is carried out in a co-ordinated manner that allows them to continue to complement each other while recognising their individual identities,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said that the plan will facilitate the identification of appropriate projects that can be progressed jointly in order to improve mobility within and between the town centres; the enhancement of the public realm; promotion of sustainable transport options including walking and cycling and provide a clear vision for the future that takes into account the impact on the towns of the planned major infrastructural projects.
Consultation with councillors in the Nenagh and Killaloe municipal districts, commercial and business interests, the tourism and hospitality sector and the general public will be an integral part of the project and will commence in early autumn.
It is anticipated that the plan will enable Clare and Tipperary county councils, working closely together, to make an application for and secure funds to implement the plan under a variety of funding streams.