A new plan for the future of the twin towns of Killaloe-Ballina has been approved by Clare and Tipperary County Councils.
The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan aims to facilitate a co-ordinated approach to public realm enhancements within Killaloe in County Clare and Ballina in County Tipperary, providing a clear vision for Killaloe and Ballina as linked settlements.
Central to all future developments in the linked settlements is the Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme, which will provide a western bypass for Killaloe town and a new bridge crossing of the River Shannon, changing travel and mobility patterns into and around both settlements.
The objective of the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan is to proactively prepare, in a plan-led manner, the development of settlements post-operation of the bypass. An objective of the plan is also to propose several measures and interventions that can be undertaken in advance of the bypass.
Specific measures, designs and schemes will promote the towns’ complementarity, and create an overall focus on their joint strengths and opportunities in terms of functionality and aesthetics.
The plan provides opportunities to capitalise on the towns’ assets to collectively expand the tourism product, attract increased visitor numbers and maximise local economic benefits.
The decision to approve the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan was made at the December meetings of Clare County Council and Tipperary County Council on 13th December, 2021. The plan had been endorsed by the elected members of Killaloe Municipal District (MD) and Nenagh MD in November.
The preparation of the plan has been a strategic priority for the Chief Executives of Clare and Tipperary County Councils, Pat Dowling and Joe MacGrath, as well as Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development and Killaloe Municipal District Co-ordinator, and Marcus O’Connor, Director of Services and District Manager, Nenagh MD. The plan from inception to delivery spanned a two-year period and included two rounds of public consultation.
Cathaoirleach of Killaloe MD, Cllr Joe Cooney, said: “I am delighted that the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan has received the approval of Council. Successful collaboration between Clare and Tipperary Councils has been a key feature of the plan’s development, which reflects the tradition of co-operation and interdependence that has long existed in the twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina. This new plan seeks to build on that shared history and deliver significant benefits for both towns in the future. There has been marked enthusiasm and willingness among all parties to bring this plan to fruition. This is a worthy plan and I look forward to its implementation.”
According to Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development and Killaloe Municipal District Co-ordinator: “The completion of this plan represents a positive step forward for Killaloe-Ballina and the wider area. Consultation has been key to shaping the final plan, and I would like to thank all those who made submissions and observations and otherwise engaged with the plan. Tourism is vital to the economy of Killaloe-Ballina and with national tourism initiatives in place such as Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, as well as our own County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030, the rationale was to provide a plan that would allow for both towns and their amenities to be developed, managed and marketed in a co-ordinated manner at national and international level.”
The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan comprises a number of key elements, including:
A Sustainable Mobility Plan/Strategy
A Place Making and Public Realm Design Strategy
A Tourism and Heritage Strategy
Site Specific Interventions that will encourage an increase in commercial activity on the Main Street in Killaloe and in Ballina. Public realm enhancement, traffic management, car-parking and pedestrian connectivity to the town centres from the residential, educational, community, public spaces and tourism facilities will be considered in this context.
Brian McCarthy, Senior Planner, Clare County Council, said the enhancement of Killaloe and Ballina will respect the distinctive historic character of both heritage towns, while also capturing the individuality of each town. He outlined a number of the proposals set out for Killaloe: “Nine potential opportunity sites are identified within the plan for Killaloe town. Main Street Killaloe will benefit from public realm enhancement works, while the proposed restoration of the historic disused courthouse, to be used as a multi-purpose community space, are some of the opportunities presented within the plan that will reinvigorate the town area.
“The launch of the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan is timely given that Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan approved the award of contract for the Killaloe Bypass, River Shannon Crossing and upgrade of the R494 project in December.”
The elements and proposals set out in the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan have been incorporated into the Draft Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029 and it is anticipated that this strategy will inform future funding applications and town enhancement projects that will enable Clare and Tipperary County Councils to work closely together to make an application for and secure funds to implement the plan under the various funding streams.
*Picture above at the launch of the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan are (l-r): Cllr Michael O’Meara, Cathaoirleach, Nenagh Municipal District; Morgan Lahiffe, Senior Executive Officer, Killaloe MD; Marcus O’Connor, Director of Services and District Manager, Nenagh MD; Cllr Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach, Killaloe MD; Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development and Killaloe Municipal District Co-ordinator; Cllr Phyll Bugler, Ballina; Brian McCarthy, Senior Planner, Clare County Council; and Cllr Tony O’Brien, Killaloe – Photo: Eamon Ward.