Tipp Greens are calling for reassessment of the Clonmel Urban Design Project in light of opportunities presented in Programme for Government.
A revised design plan for improvements to Clonmel Town Centre has been drawn up by RPS Engineers at the request of Tipperary County Council and is now available through the Council website for public comment and submission under the Part 8 planning process either by email to: clonmelpart8@ tipperarycoco.ie, or using the feedback form on the Council website https://www. tipperarycoco.ie/news/ clonmel-public-realm
with a deadline on Friday, September 25.
The aim of the project is to improve the public realm and revitalise this primary retail area.
The plan will cost approximately €9 million euro to implement, including a very substantial figure for the RPS design team.
Meanwhile, the current Programme for Government provides for a guaranteed €360 million a year for cycling and walking infrastructure and a “Town Centre First” policy which commits to implementing town centre regeneration by encouraging residential occupancy in town centres.
Given these two significant policy shifts by the new Government, the Tipperary Green Party is advocating that the council and the RPS design team to reassess the Clonmel plan and adapt it to maximise the investment from central government.
The main thrust of the current Urban Design project should be to make the town centre more amenable to pedestrians and is therefore a very welcome development to try and attract more footfall to the town centre after the last few years of losing custom to out of town and on-line shopping. Hopefully this will be achieved by introducing more attractive paving, seating, lighting and generally making the town centre more attractive, while crucially respecting the town’s distinctive heritage and character.
It also includes an innovative change to traffic flow and a proposal to significantly increase pedestrian spaces by widening existing footpaths. However, there are no plans for any new pedestrian access routes nor plans for dedicated cycling lanes.
Also of concern to those who have seen the proposals by RPS, is the planned removal of all the trees in Gladstone and O’Connell streets and replacing them with new ones.
Some expert critics have also commented on the need for a simplified colour scheme for materials used and plainer designs of bollards, benches and other street furniture to harmonise with the town’s heritage.
This was a dominant theme at a recent interactive meeting hosted by the Council and attended by members of the Clonmel Town Forum, the RPS design team and by architects Loughlin Kealy, Margaret Quinlan and Sharon O’Brien.
The Programme for Government has been criticised for having vague and aspirational statements, however one area where is it very specific relates to the €360 million per year for cycling/walking infrastructure. The document refers to “funding programmes linked with a specific target of new separated cycling and walking infrastructure which will be delivered or under construction by end 2024.”
At the moment it is unclear how this money can be accessed by local authorities and the Green Party is requesting that Tipperary County Council liaise with central government and other relevant agencies to ensure that the new plan can exploit this funding in full .
Also for this reason, the Green Party is now urging members of the public to contribute to the Part 8 planning process using the links above to request that the new plan be adapted to take advantage of this money by further improving pedestrian and cycling access in the town centre.
We believe that such improvements to the town centre should be designed to link seamlessly with new walking and cycling infrastructure outside of the town centre, including the River Suir Greenway, Suir Island , schools and the wider network of roads around Clonmel.
The final design will not be decided until the Council take into account all relevant comments by the public. It is really important that the suggestions be clear, concise and relate to specific issues. Vague, general comments are not effective and all comments must be submitted by the deadline of 25 September.
(Article written by Alan Moore and Michael Fitzgibbon)