Tipperary County Council has secured the planning green light to transform a 1km stretch of river bank along the River Ara in Tipperary Town into a public amenity walk filled with native flora and fauna.
The council has welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for the “ecological re-animation” of the new river bank amenity at Collegeland and Knockanrawley.
It says the development work will begin next summer and is expected to be complete by the end of next year.
Tipperary/Cahir/Cashel Municipal District Administrator Anthony Coleman said the council will now press ahead with preparing detailed designs and tender documents.
“We are delighted to have got the consent from An Bord Pleanála for this project. It has been quite a number of year getting it to fruition.
“We applied to the Rural Regeneration Development Fund and have funding in place.”
He said the council is precluded under the planning permission conditions from commencing construction work along the river until after June 30.
The local authority plans to be ready to start work in early July. Mr Coleman estimated the project will take between four and five months to complete.
An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the project on October 29.
A gravel walk of about 1km in length, a pedestrian bridge, children’s play area and community events areas are among the amenities proposed in the project.
The 1km river bank walk will connect to an existing path near Glenview and there will be stabilisation and enhancement works carried out to the main river channel.
It’s proposed to develop an off-stream wetland and boardwalk through the wetland.
And it’s proposed to install in-stream rubble mats, deflectors and a river observation point providing visitors with visual access to aquatic habitats.
The area will be landscaped with appropriate vegetation and the council’s goal is that the children’s play area and community event areas will further enhance the biodiversity, recreational, social and aesthetic value of the walkway.
The new pedestrian bridge will be constructed close to the existing pedestrian bridge that serves the Abbey CBS Secondary School in Tipperary Town. It’s purpose is to improve public access to the area and it’s proposed to install appropriate security fencing along the boundary with the Abbey School.
In reaching its decision to approve planning permission, An Bord Pleanála took into consideration the EU Habitats Directive, EU Birds and Natural Habitats regulations, the policies of the Tipperary Town Development Plan and the Natura Impact Statement submitted in relation to the project’s impact on habitats, flora and fauna in the area.
It also took into account the recommendation of the board’s inspector appointed to consider the planning application and the assessment of its ecologist. The board made nine conditions to the grant of permission. They include a stipulation that no construction works at or in the river shall take place between October 1 and June 30 in any year and that a Construction Environmental Management Plan for the project be drawn up and implemented by the council in consultation with Inland Fisheries Ireland. Other conditions require the council to retain an ecologist to oversee the project and an archaeologist to monitor all site investigation and excavation works and to preserve and archaeological materials found in the area. The council is also required to monitor water quality during the construction of the amenity walk.