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Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar is seen reflected in a wall mirror as he addresses the gathering while Cllr P.J. Ryan, Mayor of Clare, Ann Norton, Mayor of Ennis and Pat Dowling, CEO Clare County Council look on at the launch of Ennis 2040 in the Old Ground Hotel. Photograph by John Kelly

Nine ‘transformational’ projects identified in Ennis 2040 strategy

NINE transformational projects have been identified as central planks in the Ennis 2040 Strategy.
The proposed projects relate to Abbey Riverside; Wetlands & Enterprise Areas, Cornmarket Precinct, Friars Walk, Harvey’s Quay and the Post Office Field, the site of the former Roche plant, the former Ennis National School, the proposed Data Centre at Toureen and the Clare Technology Park.
Regarding the Abbey Riverside development, it suggests a landmark building in the Abbey Street car park, a location for modern retail formats, a new educational quarter, a waterfront development, a high quality public plaza and a mix of retail, office and civic uses. It says there would be development on both sides of the river.
It claims the location would become “a destination not just for shopping but for many activities, with a focus for visitors and tourists and a meeting place for all”.
The strategy states, “A unique architectural approach will contribute in a new way to the existing cultural and heritage attributes of Ennis’ townscape, including the medieval lanes and bow-ways and the historic O’Connell Square nearby.”
In relation to the Cornmarket precinct it says it will see “the creation of a legible building frontage which respects the existing urban fabric”. Other aspects will be the establishment of a river walk, hotel and conferencing facilities and the provision of town centre living. 
Regarding Harvey’s Quay and the Post Office Field it says that “A new riverside park and commercial quarter all connected by a much improved legible and exposed boardwalk/promenade will be a key asset to the town with a greater opportunity for recreational/sporting activities on the water.
“It will bring jobs back into the centre and provide an environment/setting which is attractive to employer and employees alike. The increased commercial and amenity activity will also support existing traders and the service industry of the town.”
At Friars Walk, the plan is “to create a greater sense of arrival into the Town Centre through the introduction of a mix of residential, community and educational blocks.”
Other proposals are for a new multi storey car park and a new public plaza at the bus terminus.  It proposes the creation of a Wetlands and Enterprise area, to the east of the town centre. 
It says this would “Allow land parcels to be managed through nature based solutions in a setting noted for its sylvan quality, parkland character and wetlands.”
The document also claims this would “Change the trend on climate adaptation through progressive measures that are proactive rather than reactive.”
In terms of enterprise it says it would “Allow land that is not vulnerable to flooding to be utilised for employment activities in areas such as logistics (proximate to the M18), life sciences and technology.”
Of the former Ennis National School, it says the area will be used to “provide a range of residential typologies to meet the changing needs of town residents”.
It would also allow for supporting community, sport and recreational facilities, deliver what it calls “a generous public realm” for visitors and residents and provide a range of local services.
The plan refers to the area where Roche were based in Clarecastle as the “Roche Opportunity Site”.
It states, “The redevelopment of the Roche Opportunity Site is likely to be medium to long term and therefore has a key role to play over the next 20 years to 2040.
“Its scale allows for some of the lands to be phased so as to cater for uses and opportunities in the future which we don’t know about today.
“It will be important to continue the employment/enterprise park use of this site while also maintaining certain parameters such as existing building heights, the waste water treatment plant and other key infrastructure aspects.
“In addition the waterfront portion could deliver a mixed recreational led scheme with visitor accommodation, permanent residential, water activities and a strong walking/cycling link along the River Fergus to the train station and town centre.”
Regarding the Clare Technology Park, it says, “Significant scope exists both within the Clare Technology Park and its environs for employment related developments in the short to medium term.
“This would provide commercial floorspace that could accommodate both start up enterprise and SMEs looking for modern facilities to build their business in Ennis. This area of the town may also accommodate residential uses at increased densities.”
In relation to the proposed Data Centre at Toureen, it says the proposal “offers great potential in the short to medium term and can accommodate the economic activities required to grow Ennis as a location for significant employment.”

by Owen Ryan

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