An image of Carrick-on-Suir's marina featured on Carrick-on-Suir regeneration project information flyer distributed in the town earlier this year
Cllr Kieran Bourke, who walked out of Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District's monthly meeting in anger, following the vote on Carrick-on-Suir's Regeneration Scheme
Carrick-on-Suir’s Regeneration Scheme was approved by the narrowest majority of councillors last Thursday with the town’s two elected members voting against its adoption due to local opposition to a Blueway car park and removal of car parking spaces from Main Street.
Carrick councillor Kieran Bourke of Fianna Fáil walked out of Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District’s monthly meeting in anger following the 3-2 vote in favour of adopting the Part 8 planning application for the regeneration scheme that is the blueprint for a potential investment of €16.5m in the town.
He was one of the signatories to a petition signed by the owners of 19 Main Street businesses and properties opposed to the plans to radically cut the street’s parking spaces
The final planning application that was approved included six amendments, two of which relate to the proposed Blueway car park at Sean Healy Park and Main Street parking.
Cllr Bourke submitted the traders’ petition at a private workshop between the district’s five councillors and council officials just before the monthly meeting. It’s understood there were heated exchanges at the workshop that lasted nearly two and a half hours.
At the monthly meeting, the Part 8 planning application was put to the five councillors for adoption following the presentation of the CEO’s report that recommended six amendments to the original planning application in view of the 392 public submissions the council received.
Cllrs Bourke and Dunne proposed and seconded a proposal to defer a decision on the planning application until the New Year.
However, they were told by Carrick MD Director of Services Brian Beck it wasn’t possible to postpone the decision until the New Year. District Administrator Marie O’Gorman explained they were in a statutory process and the deadline for adoption of the plan was December 6.
Cllr Bourke responded that December 6 wasn’t enough time.
A proposal to adopt the planning application with the amendments agreed was proposed by Cllr Imelda Goldsboro from Ballingarry and seconded by Cllr Kevin O’Meara of Mullinahone. These two councillors and district Chairman Cllr Mark Fitzgerald from Cloneen voted in favour of the plan’s adoption.
Two key amendments they approved included reducing the capacity of the Sean Healy Park car park (originally planned for 38 vehicles) by half with no parking spaces situated in front of Treacy Park. Other measures agreed were the installation of CCTV and public lighting in the car park and barriers at the entrance and exit and reconfiguring the positioning of vehicles in the car park.
In relation to Main Street, the original proposal to reduce car parking spaces from 56 to 26 was amended to bring the number of spaces up to 29 including 24 general parking spaces, three disabled parking spaces, one temporary loading bay and two permanent loading bays.
After the meeting, Cllr Bourke said he was very disappointed the rural councillors didn’t respect the views of their two Carrick-on-Suir colleagues.
“In my lifetime on the council, this hasn’t happened before. Councillors from different areas would always be guided by the local councillors’ opinions.”
He said he wanted the centre of his hometown to be regenerated but he feared the parking proposals for Main Street would lead to the closure of family businesses, some of which were operating for generations.
Cllr Bourke said the council should have explored alternative sites for the Blueway car park. It wasn’t good enough that this didn’t happen given the level of opposition to locating it in Sean Healy Park.
Cllr David Dunne said he always welcomed investment in his hometown but he voted against the scheme’s adoption because he wanted the decision to be deferred to try and resolve the contentious parking proposals. He was disappointed this didn’t happen as they had until December 6 to reach a decision.
Like Cllr Bourke, he was concerned the council never explored other site options for the Blueway car park. He had also been contacted by a lot of well-known and long standing business people on Main Street concerned the plan’s parking arrangements will be detrimental to them.
Cllr Mark Fitzgerald, meanwhile, said it was a tough decision to vote to adopt the plan given the opposition to parts of it. He argued the council tried its best to address issues raised by residents and traders.
His big fear over not adopting the plan was that Carrick-on-Suir would lose out on €16.5m investment, which he described as “once in a generation” funding. While councillors had until December 6 to reach a decision, he didn’t believe they would have achieved anything more by waiting until then.
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