22 Jan 2022

Development in Offaly town will focus on revitalising town centre

According to the recently revised Public Realm for Birr, the Council will be focussing on revitalising the town centre while discouraging, negative-impacting, edge of town development.

The plan also points out that a persistent challenge for the town is how to best allocate public realm space between different users, and in particular, when it comes to vehicles and pedestrians.

The plan points out that the busy N52 is a significant problem: “Until such time as the N52 is re-routed around the town, vehicles will always negatively impact upon the pedestrian and cycling experience, especially along Wilmer Road, Emmet Street and Emmet Square”. It added that road safety for all users remains a key concern.

The plan says that efforts are required to stem locally generated traffic by encouraging the use of alternative modes of transport.

“Also, while an emotive subject for some, car parking requires further organisation so that valuable street space is given to people rather than being used to store empty vehicles.”

The Council, which will be implementing the plan, says it is committed to good quality design and craftsmanship. This includes measures such as the introduction of natural stone paving, artworks and bespoke signage.These things are already enhancing our streetscapes. However in some streets the choice of street furniture jars with the character of the spaces (for example, through the use of stainless steel). “Evidence also exists of some failures in paving that will require to be rectified.”

The Council says its aim is to focus development within a walkable catchment of the town's centre. “This means concentrating development within a 10 minute (800metre) radius of the centre and discouraging edge of town construction that relies on car travel. The tourism and shopping experience of Birr should be based on a 5 minute (400metre) radii from its centre. Our aim is what we called a 'Proactive Animation of the Public Realm”. We don't agree with the 'Build it and they will come' mantra to any development, not least in the public realm.”

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