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Land needed to facilitate population growth

THE first-ever standalone town plan for Shannon is now on public display and it envisages the population growing to 12,000 by 2017.
According to the document, Shannon’s population in 2006 was 9,222 and the population target for 2017 is 11,972, an increase of 2,750.
It also states that 53.1 hectares of land is required for residential zoning.
The plan states there are opportunities to improve the appearance of the town. “Opportunities exist to express Shannon’s strengths and assets with a new image that is fresh and welcoming. This could be pursued through improving the sense of place on arrival and on moving through the town in a way which would benefit residents but particularly visitors. Visitors can be workers from the Free Zone, attendees at sporting events, shoppers, people attending appointments, people using the airport and others who can support facilities, services and events. There is also an opportunity to improve sustainable travel patterns around the town and environs. The town park, located centrally between the town centre and the area containing schools, leisure centre, playgrounds and town hall, presents an opportunity for greater outdoor amenity and recreation. There is further potential on land south of the playground, which could support community/amenity uses and development on the two sites could be mutually complimentary.”
With regard to the middle of the town it states, “There is no sense of having arrived at the town centre. For visitors, views from the three principal approaches to the town centre – from the Shannon Town Roundabout, Bóthar Mór and Bóthar na Rinne – consist of undefined spaces and poor signage, which presents a confusing view which is unappealing.”
While it also states that the amount of cars close to the town centre is not a positive, it finds that there are possibilities to make improvements. “Notwithstanding, there are opportunities to improve the quality and sense of place in the town centre. This can be achieved by enhancing vitality in the town square, thus attracting people to the area. In addition, an expansion of the town centre will enable the capture of different scales and types of retail offer, attracting new customers. Moreover, there is potential to improve links to the estuary, the Free Zone and to traffic using the N18. The central location of the town centre should be reinforced by improving walkable links to the surrounding area into and out of the centre.”
Town and County Councillor, Gerry Flynn, Shannon Electoral Area chairman said the Draft Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan provides the statutory framework to enable a focus on Shannon’s assets.
“It is a very comprehensive document dealing with a wide range of issues that will influence the future growth and development of Shannon. I believe that the preparation of this plan is a very positive development and I would encourage people to engage fully with this process and to make submissions. There are probably a few things in the draft plan that the majority of the councillors for the area would like perhaps to see changed but the councillors will have an opportunity to do that if they wish later in the process having listened to the views of people.”
Senior planner Gordon Daly explained that the principal aim of the plan is to consolidate all previous plans for the town and environs, including the Town Centre Masterplan in 2009, into one strong forward-looking document that builds on the objectives for Shannon outlined in the Clare County Development Plan 2011-17.
“We respect what is really most critical is implementation but it is important to firstly get one very clear and focused town plan in place for all of Shannon. This can also be used to provide a platform to market the many assets of Shannon including as an attractive place to live, as demonstrated by the many vibrant community and sporting groups in the town. We are particularly hopeful these groups will engage with the process, we really want to hear their views and those of the wider public.”
The council will hold a number of public information sessions in January, enabling members of the public and local community group representatives to engage with council officials.
According to Mr Daly, “The dates and venues for these sessions will be announced in due course and the council would encourage people to avail of the opportunity to be involved in the process of developing a robust and comprehensive local area plan for Shannon Town and Environs.”
The Draft Local Area Plan and other relevant documents are available on www.clarecoco.ie. The draft plan can also be viewed during normal working hours from Monday to Friday until Wednesday, February 1 at Shannon Town Hall, Clare County Council planning section in Ennis, the Seán Lemass library in Shannon and the de Valera Library Ennis.

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