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Ennis plan maps Clare Capital’s future development

Visualisation of a Pedestrian Bridge  linking Francis Street and New Road as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County Council

Visualisation of a Pedestrian Bridge linking Francis Street and New Road as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County Council

Clare County Council has published a significant new roadmap for the development of Ennis over the coming years.

The Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, which includes Clarecastle, comes 65 years after the first town plan for Munster’s largest town was prepared by renowned architect and town planner, Frank Gibney.

The new Draft Plan will guide the development of the Clare County Capital and its environs in terms of economic development, recreational and community requirements, as well as residential, retail, transport and infrastructural needs.

Key features of the Draft Plan include the zoning of 110 hectares of land for residential purposes, the development of new local tourism and recreation amenities, the identification of sites for neighbourhood shopping facilities, and the advancement of numerous infrastructure projects such as a new footbridge across the River Fergus and the rejuvenation of O’Connell Square.

Community groups, individuals and stakeholders are encouraged to make written submissions or observations in respect of the Draft Plan which will be publicly available to view from tomorrow (Friday 23th January).

Council planning officials also will be on hand at Dunne’s Stores Mall from Monday 26th January to Saturday 31st January (midday-2.30pm and 4pm-6pm each day, 11am-5 p.m. on Saturday) to speak with members of the public about the Draft Plan. A tea-time public consultation event will also take place at the Old National School Building in Clarecastle on Monday 2nd February 2015 from 4.30pm to 8pm.

Visualisation of a pedestrian friendly open space at Barrack Square as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County Council

Visualisation of a pedestrian friendly open space at Barrack Square as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County Council

“It is vitally important that all sectors of the local community take the opportunity to review this Draft Plan and have their say on the future economic and social development of Ennis,” said Mayor of Ennis Cllr. Johnny Flynn.

He continued: “It is the intention of my Council colleagues and I to support the Council in growing Ennis and its environs in a well-planned and sustainable way, providing a good quality of life for those who reside and work in the town and an enjoyable experience for those visiting it.”

Cllr. John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council emphasised the importance of the Draft Plan for the wider County.

“A thriving County town will have significant, positive knock on effects for the future development of Clare and will benefit all citizens of the County. Forward planning is key to the overall development of Ennis in the coming years and I warmly welcome the progressive vision set out in this document,” said Cllr. Crowe.

“The new town plan is the most important plan to be prepared for Ennis in recent decades and it will guide the growth, future planning and development of Ennis for at least the next 6 years,” commented Gordon Daly, Senior Planner, Clare County Council.

“The draft plan has a particularly strong commitment to enhancing the town centre including facilitating the expansion of the retail offering in the centre of the town.  As Ennis Town Centre serves the wider region including rural areas, any investment in infrastructure and public spaces in the heart of Ennis will be an investment in the entire town and wider county,” he added.

Mr. Daly continued: “We are inviting members of the public as well as representatives of the local business community to meet with Council officials at one of our two upcoming public consultations. Children and teenagers are especially welcome during these events.”

An artist's impression of the newly developed O'Connell Square as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County CouncilAn artist’s impression of the newly developed O’Connell Square as featured in the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021, published by Clare County Council

Key points of the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015-2021:

Housing – The draft plan zones 110 hectares of land for residential purposes providing sufficient space for 2,600 housing units and giving the town the potential to reach its 2021 national population target of 32,000, up from 25,000 (2011 Census).  The draft plan puts a strong emphasis on increasing the number of people living in the town centre of Ennis.

Economic Development and Enterprise – The draft plan confirms the importance of key employment locations such as the Gort Road Industrial Estate and Roche in Clarecastle.  It also zones land for expansion at Information Age Park Ennis in addition to lands for enterprise and light industry on the Kildysart Rd. Enterprise zoning from the current town plan is retained at Beechpark with potential to accommodate a campus style low carbon Enterprise Park. A site for light industry at the Tulla Rd interchange on the M18 and a 33-hectare site zoned industrial in the Toureen area on the Tulla Rd have been zoned. The need for additional neighbourhood shopping facilities is recognised with sites identified at Claureen, Cahercallamore and Clare Rd. A site for a motorway service station at junction 12 on the M18/Ennis Bypass is identified.

Tourism development – The Draft Plan identifies an opportunity site at Woodquay for the development of a trail head for the West Clare Railway Greenway, the proposed 33-kilometre cycling and walking route linking Ennis to Lahinch. Land suitable for a camping and motor home facility has been zoned in the Newpark/Roslevan area, while a site in the mature woodland setting of Beechpark is zoned tourism for active recreational activities. It is also an objective of the draft plan to carry out a Tourism, Amenity, Recreation & Environmental Management Study for the Ballyalla lake area.

Travel and mobility are given close attention with infrastructure safeguards for new routes including a link between the Gort Road and the Tulla Road.  In the interest of smarter travel a walking and cycling strategy are also prepared and a bus service for Ennis is supported.  A new pedestrian bridge between Francis Street and New Road is also proposed.

Town Centre improvements – 12 opportunity sites have been identified in relation to the expansion/improvement of Ennis town centre. Lysaghts car park, Barrack Square and Barrack Street are identified as areas needing enhancement. Improving the appearance of the laneways in Ennis, enhancing Parnell Street and addressing vacancy rates are also prioritised. The draft plan prioritises making O’Connell Square (the Height) a more attractive space through improvements to lighting, paving, street furniture and regaining a greater amount of civic and public space. The draft plan proposes to prepare a comprehensive and co-ordinated plan for public realm improvements and traffic management in the town centre to make it a more pedestrian friendly environment. The Council has also committed to preparing an amenity scheme for the Post Office Field to make it an accessible riverside space in a sensitive manner.

Expansion of the town centre – Two new anchor developments are identified as opportunity sites, namely the market redevelopment at Garraunakilla, already approved, and a town centre expansion area for retail development to include the site of the former Boy’s NS and adjoining lands on the Kilrush Rd.

Education – The draft plan deals comprehensively with future education needs through zoning sufficient lands for future expansion of existing schools as necessary and the identification of sites for new schools including a primary school to serve the Roslevan area.

New County GAA & Clare Marts sites – The Clare Marts site on the Quin Road has been identified as an opportunity site for a new County GAA grounds/relocation of Cusack Park. The zoning of the Mart site as mixed use does not preclude redeveloping the existing County GAA grounds or indicate a lack of support for the current location by the Council. The draft plan zones a site for a new mart adjacent to junction 12 on the Ennis Bypass/M18. This prominent site recognises the important role of the agricultural industry and how the grounds associated with a mart if well located have the potential for multi uses.

Crematorium – The draft plan supports the development of a crematorium to serve Clare and the wider region given the central location of Ennis.  A site on the Kildysart Rd has been rezoned from residential to community zoning to facilitate this subject to planning permission.

Public consultation process:

Written submissions and observations with respect to the Draft Ennis and Environs Local Area Plan 2015- 2021 and associated environmental reports may be made to: Planning & Enterprise Development Department, Clare County Council, Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare or by e-mail to forwardplan@clarecoco.ie (max. document size by e-mail: 4MB) or may be faxed to 065-6892071 on or before 5.00 p.m. on Friday 6th March.

A copy of the Draft Plan may be inspected between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Friday 23th January to Friday 6th March at Áras Contae an Chláir; De Valera Library, as well as all public libraries and Municipal District Offices throughout Clare. The Draft Plan, will also be available on the Council’s website at http://www.clarecoco.ie from Friday 23th January.

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About Darren Joyce

Darren is from County Galway and joined The Clare Herald in 2014.

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