Could a digital hub be established in the town also?
700 submissions received in relation to the development of the town
Independent Tipperary County Councillor Jim Ryan has called for the way to be paved for a digital hub to be included in Liberty Square, Thurles as a matter of urgency.
Cllr Ryan was contributing to a debate which discussed the refurbishment of Liberty Square and its surrounding streets, the plan for Thurles town in general going forward, and the bid to classify the Cathedral Town as an education hub.
And, it has emerged that a Project Manager is to be appointed for Thurles to oversee the very ambitious plans to redevelop, redefine and rejuvenate the town centre which has been starved of investment and direction for many years. But, all that is about to change.
Officials from the Tipperary County Council Planning Office, Brian Beck and Kieran Laddin were in attendance at the monthly meeting of the Thurles Templemore Municipal District Council meeting and they revealed that an extraordinary number of submissions had been received from members of the public in an online survey about the future development of Thurles town. There were some 700 submissions, which according to Mr Beck can be taken at almost 10% of the local population.
“This is very very positive indeed because it means that the content of those submissions will be used to form part of the overall plans for the town centre going forward,” the Senior Executive Planning Officer said.
And, Cllr Ryan urged the officials to ensure that a ditigal hub can be facilitated in the redevelopment of Liberty Square – work on which is due to begin very soon.
“Thurles has a severe lack of high tech office space available in the town centre and I feel we need to be providing office hubs that has access to high speed fibre broadband, phone facilities and printing facilities to include 3d printing. Times have changed due to the coronavirus with more people likely to be working from home rather than having to travel to work to places like Dublin, Cork and Limerick which is why Thurles needs these digital hubs to help these workers do their jobs more effectively.
“Also it would bring some life back to our town centre as having people working in Liberty Square will help other businesses on the Square such as cafes etc,” said Cllr Ryan who asked to have his submission included in the Thurles Town Centre Renewal plan with the hope that funding may become available some time in the future to provide these digital hub spaces.
Cllr Sean Ryan stressed the importance of presenting Thurles as an educational hub and referenced the primary, second level and third level centres which are regarded as being excellent.
Cllr Seamus Hanafin pointed out that areas such as Castle Avenue, Friar Street and Croke Street also needed to be included in a town centre strategy – areas which are the first to be witnessed when visitors come to Thurles by train.
Mr Beck said that there is a vision for a Croke Street, Friar Street and Castle Avenue quarter where business and residential premises co-exist. And, the idea is to have a coherent plan ready for presentation to the department in order to secure funding on an ongoing basis.
“We want to put together a whole stream of projects, which, when completed will change the whole fundamental of the town entirely. The strength of any applications we make for funding will be the type of strategy which comes out of, and includes, community involvement and the input of people. This is a very exciting and challenging project and if we get it right, there will be massive benefits down the line,” said Brian Beck who added that the content of the County Development Plan- the drawing up of which commences in September - will be of paramount importance.
In answering Cllr Ryan's query in relation to a digital hub, Mr Beck said that such a proposal cannot be developed overnight but would form part of the process of redeveloping the town centre in accordance with the change in how people will live and work into the future.
District Manager Eamon Lonergan told members that this is the start of the development process of Thurles town. However, he added that a plan must be in place if grants and funding are to be drawn down. And, he revealed that a new Project Manager will be appointed for Thurles town in the coming months to help drive the entire process forward – news which was welcomed by the members.
Work on the new car park in Thurles - just off Liberty Square and Slievenamon Road - is due to be completed in August, and the attention will then shift to the redevelopment of Liberty Square outright. Already, pedestrians and motorists are noticing a significant amount of markings on the road and footpaths in preparation for the commencement of the works - an exciting time for all.