BUSINESS people at Barrack Square and Old Barrack Street in Ennis were invited to an exhibition of new proposals for the area at The Old Ground Hotel on this week.
Some raised concerns about what the proposals would mean for access and parking in the area.
The preliminary proposals for the area include:
• Introduction of a one-way traffic flow westwards, from O’Connell Street to Market Place;
• Creation of a traffic-calmed pedestrian-priority plaza, with high-quality surface materials;
• Increased footpath widths along Barrack Street to encourage improved pedestrian linkage between the Market and Square;
• Provision of a central focal feature/gathering area, comprising a lightweight canopy structure;
• Removal of on-street parking;
• Provision of a loading and short-term parking bay;
• Introduction of distinctive street furniture, including public seating, lighting, public artwork and new trees;
• The retention of vehicle access to Westby Lane and existing residential properties.
A council document on the proposals states, “Currently, the opportunities for outdoor seating and gathering are restricted by the layout and extent of car parking and the through traffic movements, which dominate and detract from the civic character of the square.
“The aim is to create a unique social, recreation and amenity space set within an attractive, safe and pedestrian-friendly environment, thereby adding to the diversity and vibrancy of the town centre.”
At the event, Clare County Councillor Johnny Flynn said that, while there are positives to the proposal, much remains to be worked on. “This is the first presentation on it. The concepts are very attractive but I think there are problems with it. I’ve met with a good number of the businesses in the area. A small number seem to be in favour of the one-way traffic from O’Connell Street and loss of access from the Market.
“However, a significant number of businesses don’t want the loss of the two-way traffic from the Market and they don’t want the loss of parking. A lot of them have older customers.”
Councillor Flynn added, “I like the concept of creating a quarter like this. It’s a nice idea, but you have to allow traffic in, you have to allow people to drop and collect, you have to have a little bit of parking. There are residents living there as well and you have to remember emergency vehicles. If it was St Patrick’s Day and O’Connell Street was closed down, if this was in place, you would have difficulty. We need to take aspects of it that are attractive but maintain the functionality of the area, the access and parking.”
Kinga Gemser operates a local tanning salon and she said it could be detrimental to her business.
“It looks quite alright but we are not happy with the lack of parking spaces. That’s the main thing. In my business, the people come for 10 minutes on the sunbed, they dump the car outside, run in, on the sunbed and they are gone again. They won’t come from the other side of the town.”
She was also concerned about the provision of a covered gathering area, which she warned would be a centre for anti-social behaviour. “In the evenings, it is going to be a place for junkies and drunks,” she warned.
By Owewn Ryan