Town centre of Clonmel, Tipperary's largest town, to receive facelift

New urban design project to cost €9.5 million

Eamonn Wynne

Reporter:

Eamonn Wynne

Email:

ewynne@nationalist.ie

O'Connell Street/Main Guard

All of O’Connell Street would become one-way for traffic travelling towards the Main Guard, in Clonmel’s planned new urban design

A new €9.5 million urban design project planned for Clonmel will play its part in the transformation of the town.

That’s the confident prediction of Gillian Flynn, executive engineer with Tipperary County Council.

“This complete facelift for the town centre is badly needed,” says Ms Flynn.

“If all the other capital projects and plans - such as the Bulmers visitor centre at Dowd’s Lane, the redevelopment of Suir Island and the former Kickham Barracks site, and the interpretative centre at the West Gate - come together, it will completely transform the town.”

“There’s great potential in all of those projects,” she says.

Planning permission is now being sought for the ambitious urban design project.

Under the scheme improvements are planned for the streetscape in Irishtown, O’Connell Street, Wolfe Tone Street, Bridge Street, Old Bridge, Hopkin’s Lane, Blue Anchor Lane, Sarsfield Street, Mary Street, Mitchel Street, Abbey Street, Bank Lane, Gladstone Street, Market Street and Elbow Lane. 

Car parking spaces near the West Gate in O’Connell Street will be changed from diagonal to parallel, and more space will be made available for pedestrians.

“The street will lose 18 parking spaces at that location but we’re working on an extension to the Gordon Place car park to create 12 additional spaces,” says Gillian Flynn.

“Ample parking is also available at Suir Island car park, which is less than two minutes’ walk from O’Connell Street.”

O’Connell Street, from its junction with Mary Street and Bridge Street, will become a one-way carriageway for traffic travelling eastbound towards the Main Guard, in one of the most radical changes contained in the plans. This means that all of O’Connell Street will be one-way.

The northern section of Gladstone Street, from the junction with the Mary Street car park entrance to the junction with Kickham Street, will be a two-way carriageway for traffic, with no parking.

In Gladstone Street at present, priority is given to traffic travelling from Kickham Street at the junction with Market Street. But that will change to give priority to motorists approaching the junction from the Main Guard.

€200,000 funding has already been secured  for work that will create a multi-accessible link between the Blueway, Suir Island  and Clonmel town centre, and the new project will connect with the Blueway and Suir Island via Sarsfield Street.

“We’re trying to improve the traffic flow and at the same time improve the amenity of the town, and create space for pedestrians and cyclists so that people can spend more time in the town centre,” says Gillian Flynn.

Mitchel Street will have new natural stone paving, which will be installed at the one level so that the step from the footpath onto the road will be removed. New strip lighting will also be a feature of the improvements in the street.

The new paving on Mitchel Street will continue into Abbey Street, along by the Friary Church and the car park and Bank Lane, and will connect to the new paving on Sarsfield Street.

Above: An artist’s impression of the planned new road surface and new footpath paving in front of the Main Guard in Clonmel

The new paving on the footpath at the Main Guard will be a buff (or yellow) coloured natural stone, while the road carriageway at Sarsfield Street and in front of the Main Guard will mix tarmacadam with a buff chip to match the footpath paving.

“We’re trying to give it a plaza feel so that this area can be closed to traffic when events are taking place at the Main Guard,” says Ms Flynn.

The buff-coloured sandstone has been chosen to match the colour of the buildings in the town centre.

Market Street is also in line for an upgrade, with plans for a raised area (constructed with buff-coloured material) outside the Butter Market and outside Circles. 

“This will make it easier for pedestrians to cross the road at that area, which has a number of cafés. The loading bay will be removed to give people more space for their business,” says Ms Flynn.

“Elbow Lane is also being upgraded and that might become a busier link as well.”

She says that Wolfe Tone Street will also be completely transformed. Just like Mitchel Street, it will have a shared space at one level, while the street lighting will be considerably improved.

A whole new suite of street furniture is another feature of the plans, including new lighting and smart benches where the batteries of phones and other devices may be charged. New granite seats will also be installed throughout the town centre.

Above: Parallel parking, to replace the existing diagonal parking, is proposed for O'Connell Street, from the West Gate to the Mary Street/Bridge Street junction 

Tipperary County Council has applied for funding through the URDF (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund), which is currently supporting the new sports hub at LIT and the redevelopment of the former Kickham Barracks site. 75% of funding will be provided by URDF, while other funding streams are also available.

“140,000 pedestrians and cyclists have been on the Blueway from the beginning of the year to the start of July,” says Gillian Flynn. 

“If we can tap into that and get some of those people into the town centre the potential is there to have a very busy town again.”

The work will begin as soon as funding is secured. The council is ready to have a contractor appointed by the end of 2021 and it’s estimated that the work will take two years to complete. Consultations were held with local traders and Clonmel members of the county council before the plans were drawn up.

The plans, with images, are now on display at the digital hub at Clonmel Library until September 11. They may also be viewed on the Tipperary County Council website, and have been circulated on the council’s social media. 

People will have an opportunity to make submissions to the council until September 25, and Gillian Flynn hopes that as many people as possible will view the plans and get involved.

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