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23 Jan 2022

Potential for high-rise buildings in Offaly as council plan revealed

Potential for high-rise buildings in Offaly as council plan revealed

Potential for high-rise buildings in Offaly as council plan revealed

Offaly County Council favours building upwards rather than outwards as it believes it is less carbon-intensive and can accommodate increased densities. The details are contained in the county development plan 2021-2027.

Two "opportunity" sites have been identified in Tullamore as being suitable for taller buildings; they are the Grand Canal Harbour site and the former Texas site.

The local authority says that permitting taller buildings at these locations is dependent on assessment by the Planning Authority and a set of criteria which must include a masterplan and local planning framework to deal with movement, public realm and design; • An urban design statement addressing the impacts on the historic built environment; • A specific design statement on the individual proposal from an architectural perspective; • A visual impact assessment; and • Daylight and shadow projection diagrams.

A plan to develop the former Texas site was refused by Offaly County Council last year.

The plan sought to demolish existing buildings and sheds and to construct one single-storey dual height retail store measuring 1,664 sq m with off licence, an office unit and a two-storey cafe.

The council sought a full redesign and appeared to favour smaller units which could house bookshops, hairdressers and cafes over large scale retail outlets.

The council also wants the plan to include housing and point out that under the National Planning Framework 30% of new housing should be provided in towns.

Meanwhile, a masterplan for the second "opportunity site" which is the regeneration of the Harbour Area is at design stage.

Generally, the local planning authority says there is a need to support the development of a balance of uses within our urban centres living, working, leisure, rather than focusing on just one or two uses.

The council is also promoting a mix of living, working, social and recreational space in urban areas along with increased residential development in urban centres.

"While achieving higher density does not automatically imply taller buildings, increased building height is a significant component in making optimal use of the capacity of sites in urban locations where transport, employment, services or retail development can achieve a requisite level of intensity for sustainability. While taller buildings will bring much needed additional housing and economic development, they can also assist in reinforcing and contributing to a sense of place within a town centre," the council state.

"In this manner, increased building height is a key factor in assisting modern place-making and improving the overall quality of our urban environment. The Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines for Planning Authorities (December 2018) states that it would be appropriate to support the consideration of building heights of at least 6 storeys at street level. Taller buildings are advocated in the major towns identified for strategic development in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy: in Offaly’s case this is Tullamore," the plan states.

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