An artist’s impression of O’Connell Street, which will become entirely one-way for traffic under the urban design project proposed for Clonmel’s town centre
Infrastructure was needed to allow Clonmel to deliver on its potential over the next 50 years, District Manager Sinead Carr stated at a meeting of Clonmel Borough District.
She was speaking after councillors had rubber stamped the proposed €9.5 million urban design project for the town.
Ms Carr said the project had been included in Tipperary County Council’s submission for funding under the URDF (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund), and she understood that the application would be looked at positively.
She said that when they sat down to draw up the plans they were determined to be ambitious and to “push the boat out”.
Following the granting of planning permission, she said the project would now proceed to the detailed design stage and it would be ready to go to tender once the URDF funding was confirmed.
District Mayor Siobhán Ambrose said the project would “modernise the streets of Clonmel” and could be a game changer for the town centre.
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.
Gillian Flynn, executive engineer with Tipperary County Council, said that once the plans were put on public consultation 156 submissions had been received and 136 were received online in the form of a survey questionnaire.
The responses were very positive and 85% of those who made submissions were in favour of urban realm improvements in Clonmel.
One of the greatest number of submissions concerned cycling. People wanted to see dedicated cycling lanes but this wasn’t achievable within the town centre, where speed limits were low.
Ms Flynn said if cycling lanes were included, another three metres would have to be taken from parking spaces or the footpath. The recommendation was to keep cycling on the street, along with vehicles.
She said that the cycling network throughout the town was being improved and a link from the riverside Blueway cycling track and footpath as far as the town centre was planned.
Gillian Flynn said it was proposed to remove 50 parking spaces. 53% of responders were in favour of this, while 60 submissions requested more parking in the town centre.
However she said that Suir Island car park near the town centre had 260 spaces and was under-utilised, while 12 additional spaces had recently been created in the Gordon Place car park.
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.
Ms Flynn said that 18 parking spaces were being removed from the West Gate as far as O’Connell Street’s junction with Bridge Street and Mary Street. The remaining parking spaces would be changed from diagonal to parallel and she hadn’t met anyone who disagreed with these proposals.
She said the main issue that had arisen in the submissions was objections to the proposal to provide a build-out from St Mary’s Place into Irishtown, and this wouldn’t be going ahead.
Two 15-minute loading bays would be provided near Easons on Gladstone Street and near Sean Hackett’s on O’Connell Street.
Some people had an issue with the number of colours included on the street surfaces.
Those comments had been taken on board and steps had been taken to make changes, particularly in relation to the Main Guard and extending into Sarsfield Street, Bank Lane, Abbey Street and Mitchel Street, where the red chip asphalt would be removed and replaced with black asphalt.
105 from 132 submissions were happy with the stainless steel lamp standards in public lighting.
People wanted to retain the existing trees but this wasn’t achievable, because the roots of the trees had wrapped themselves around the existing surfaces and wouldn’t survive during the work. With the footpaths being widened, these trees would end up in the middle of the paths.
The Tidy Towns committee suggested they would have a planting programme for all year round, and a plan would be drawn up for summer and winter.
Some people didn’t like the curved-style seating that was planned. The existing seating type would be maintained but would be integrated with seats that had backs and armrests.
Above: 18 parking spaces will be removed from O’Connell Street from the West Gate to its junction with Bridge Street and Mary Street, and the parking spaces will change from diagonal to parallel
Gillian Flynn said the existing handrail at the junction of O’Connell Street and Sarsfields Street would be maintained. They had been asked to look at a different type of bicycle stand, while the same type of bin would be used.
Cllr Niall Dennehy said he supported the plans, but he feared that the former Clonmel Arms Hotel would “tragically remain a liability”.
He said the old manor building at the Old Bridge should be looked at under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to enhance what was already proposed.
Cllr Pat English said people had their say. Not everyone was happy but most people were and he welcomed the proposals.
Cllr Michael Murphy said it was great to have reached this stage and he thanked the team involved.
Cllr Richie Molloy said it was great to see the plans come to fruition and this was something that the people of the town had been looking for for so many years.
Cllr John Fitzgerald said it was great that people were making plans for the town into the future, even during two lockdowns.
It showed they were thinking about the future rather than worrying about the present and he commended the team involved in the project.
District Manager Sinead Carr praised the work of Gillian Flynn and District Administrator Michael Moroney.
Any issues raised during the public’s submissions were looked at. Where necessary, people had been met a few times to discuss any issues, she said.
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