OPPORTUNITY knocks for Ennis, with 19 potential development sites identified in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021.
The draft plan, revealed by Clare County Council this week, comes 65 years after the first town plan for Munster’s largest town was prepared by renowned architect and town planner, Frank Gibney.
The draft contains rejuvenation, development and expansion proposals for Ennis and identifies 19 key opportunity sites to reverse decline, provide new shops and services for residents and create employment.
Among the opportunity sites identified are the Garraunakilla covered market – due to be completed at the end of this year or early in 2016; the development of the former Boys National School on the Kilrush Road, where retail development of 3,000 square metres is envisaged; pedestrian-friendly areas, to include Barrack Street Square, old Barrack Street and a rejuvenation of a pedestrian-friendly O’Connell Monument area.
The draft plan sees the old Analogue building and adjoining infill site presenting an opportunity to create both a visual and physical link between Bank Place and the Post Office field. The site, which is zoned town centre, can potentially accommodate civic, mixed use, commercial or hospitality-based development and provide greater engagement with the River Fergus.
There are also a number of areas that will provoke comment and discussion in the community, including the possible relocation of Cusack Park, which the plan proposes to rezone as mixed use and open the door to a future relocation.
Also in the draft plan is zoning for a crematorium, which planners feel is a good move, given the location of Ennis between Limerick and Galway.
The new draft plan will guide the development of the Clare county capital and its environs, including Clarecastle, in terms of economic development, recreational and community requirements, as well as residential, retail, transport and infrastructural needs.
Key features include the zoning of 110 hectares of land for residential purposes, the development of new local tourism and recreation amenities, the identification of sites for neighbourhood shopping facilities, and the advancement of numerous infrastructure projects, such as a new footbridge across the River Fergus and the rejuvenation of O’Connell Square.
Community groups, individuals and stakeholders are encouraged to make written submissions or observations in respect of the draft plan, which will be publicly available to view from this Friday.
Council planning officials will also be on hand at Dunne’s Stores Mall from Monday, January 26 to Saturday, January 31 (12 noon-2.30pm and 4pm-6pm each day; 11am-5pm on Saturday) to speak with members of the public about the draft plan. A tea-time public consultation event will also take place at the Old National School Building in Clarecastle on Monday, February 2, from 4.30pm to 8pm.
“It is vitally important that all sectors of the local community take the opportunity to review this draft plan and have their say on the future economic and social development of Ennis,” said Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Johnny Flynn. “I hope this is the start of a conversation with the people of Ennis and the environs.”
He continued, “It is the intention of my council colleagues and I to support the council in growing Ennis and its environs in a well-planned and sustainable way, providing a good quality of life for those who reside and work in the town and an enjoyable experience for those visiting it.”
Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, emphasised the importance of the draft plan for the wider county.
“A thriving county town will have significant, positive knock-on effects for the future development of Clare and will benefit all citizens of the county. Forward planning is key to the overall development of Ennis in the coming years and I warmly welcome the progressive vision set out in this document,” said Councillor Crowe.
“The new town plan is the most important plan to be prepared for Ennis in recent decades and it will guide the growth, future planning and development of Ennis for at least the next six years,” commented Gordon Daly, senior planner, Clare County Council.
“The draft plan has a particularly strong commitment to enhancing the town centre, including facilitating the expansion of the retail offering in the centre of the town. As Ennis town centre serves the wider region, including rural areas, any investment in infrastructure and public spaces in the heart of Ennis will be an investment in the entire town and wider county,” he added.
Mr Daly continued, “We are inviting members of the public, as well as representatives of the local business community, to meet with council officials at one of our two upcoming public consultations. Children and teenagers are especially welcome during these events.”