O'Connor Square in Tullamore town centre
Respected architect and town planner, Fergal MacCabe has claimed Tullamore is a “slow learner” when it comes to town centre plans.
He made his comments in a letter to the Editor of the Tullamore Tribune this week after neighbouring Clara secured €100,000 in grant aid to develop a town centre plan.
Mr MacCabe's letter reads as follows:
Minister Humphrey's announcement of €2.6 million in funding for the development of the first ever Town Centre First plans is a very welcome development.
It is particularly good news for Roscrea and even better for Clara, coming on top of its recently being awarded €200.000 to carry out the Clashawaun River Walk project.
The reason both towns are succeeding is that they already have well produced and detailed local plans based on thorough surveys of local problems and potentials, detailed analysis of the solutions and finally, limited but achievable objectives which form part of an integrated strategy.
Their vision goes beyond just simple zoning maps. It is quite clear where investment should be concentrated, how cycling and walking routes will be provided, how key sites will contribute to the revitalisation of their centres and the contribution that their historic architecture can make .The Minister's funding initiative can build on and exploit these strengths.
In contrast, Tullamore has so far adopted only a simple zoning plan which, in fairness, is very well conceived, apart from the hilarious suggestion that the retail core of the town extends out to the Whitehall estate.
The next step is a Local Area Plan to flesh out the detail. Though the Council was to commence the process for making it as soon as the County Plan was adopted, I suggest that it should now be deferred in order to learn from the valuable experience which Clara will be able to provide in how to prepare a good town centre plan..
The message to be taken from the Minister's announcement is that there will be substantial funding in the future for towns that enthusiastically advance the new national sustainability objective.
Some towns, such as Portlaoise, realized this early and are already benefiting. Tullamore is the slow learner at the back of the class trying to catch up on the smarter girls and boys.
I only hope that it is not too late.
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