Clare County Council, in conjunction with Tipperary County Council, has commenced the preparation of a Town Enhancement, Tourism and Mobility Plan for Killaloe-Ballina.
The Plan will facilitate a coordinated approach to public realm enhancements within Killaloe and Ballina, providing a clear vision for Killaloe and Ballina as linked settlements.
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 is a strategic priority for Clare County Council and is being led by Brian McCarthy, Senior Planner, Clare County Council, with Anne Haugh, Director of Service and Area Manager, Killaloe Municipal District (MD), while the Tipperary team is led by Brian Beck, Senior Planner, Tipperary County Council, and Marcus O’Connor, Director of Services and District Manager, Nenagh MD.
The Plan is being prepared by a design team led by consultants Downey Planning & Architecture and is expected to take approximately six months to prepare.
Volume 3(c) of the Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023 sets out an overall strategy for proper planning and sustainable development, with one of the objectives being: “To work in co-ordination with Tipperary County Council to progress the development of Killaloe and Ballina as linked settlements.” Central to all future developments in the linked settlement of Killaloe-Ballina is the Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme, which will provide a western bypass for Killaloe town, a new bridge crossing of the River Shannon and an upgraded link between the twin towns and the M7 motorway. This strategy aims to have a plan already prepared and in place to guide the settlements post-operation of the bypass.
The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement, Tourism and Mobility Plan will comprise a number of components, including:
A Sustainable Mobility Plan/Strategy.
A Place Making and Public Realm Plan/Strategy and Street Furniture Design Guide (lighting/surface treatment), which will provide an analysis of the towns with a particular focus on the town centres.
A Tourism Strategy; tourism plays a significant role in the local economy of both Killaloe and Ballina.
Identification of initiatives 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.
Identification of a green infrastructure network and enhanced connectivity between the green spaces within the towns, for example development of walking routes including riverside walks.
Cathaoirleach of Killaloe MD, Cllr Pat Hayes, said: “The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan is a welcome development and is timely given the anticipated delivery of the Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme. The twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina, on either side of the Shannon, have for many years functioned with a high degree of mutual support and interdependency. Residents from both towns cross the historic bridge over and back on a daily basis and there is a strong tradition of cooperation between the two towns, communities and local economies. This Plan will sustain and enrich co-operation into the future.”
Anne Haugh, Killaloe Area Manager, Clare County Council, said: “Tourism is critical to the economy of Killaloe-Ballina. It makes sense from a national and international tourism perspective that both towns and their amenities are developed, managed and marketed in a coordinated manner. Water-based tourism associated with the amenities of Lough Derg and the River Shannon, and supported by the services offered by Waterways Ireland in Killaloe, are a key component of the tourism industry in the area. A growing tourism industry is linked to the ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ initiative developed by Fáilte Ireland.”
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. There are opportunities to capitalise further on the towns’ assets in order to collectively expand the tourism product, attract increased visitor numbers and maximise local economic benefits with a particular emphasis on improving mobility within and between the town centres. This will build on their existing strengths in order to further develop and support a strong economic base, recreation and town centre offering, and provide for future growth of the resident population and tourism. Overall, this strategy will inform future funding applications and town enhancement projects.”
Consultation with the elected members of the Killaloe and Nenagh MDs, commercial and business interests, the tourism and hospitality sector and the general public will be an integral part of the project and will commence in early Autumn. It is anticipated that the plan will enable Clare and Tipperary County Councils, working closely together, to make an application for and secure funds to implement the Plan under a variety of funding streams.