Work on the Clanbrassil Street redevelopment is expected to start in January 2019. Picture: Arthur Kinahan
Louth County Council say that work will begin on the redevelopment of Clanbrassil Street and St Nicholas Quarter early in 2019, after the Part 8 plans for the work were passed by councillors last week.
The councillors had a five week period from last Tuesday to consider and pass the plans, but the plans were infact passed in the meeting, with some amendments set to be implemented in the detailed design that will now get underway.
Chief Executive Joan Martin told the meeting that while the €4 million project will now proceed as planned, she remains open to discussing various elements of the redevelopment.
“If people want to continue to talk to us about various aspects, we are open to that,” she said. “There is no difficulty in continuing the conversation with various groups.
“We are now working through detailed design,” David Hall added. “We have to secure contractors through tender. Hopefully, we will get started sometime in the new year.
“If I could wave a magic wand and do it overnight, I would,” Martin concluded.
The April meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District meeting heard that of a total of 879 submission made in relation to the project, 29 were unique while further 850 were identical pre-printed submissions signed by members of the public.
Among one of the main points of contention for the redevelopment was the provision of car parking spaces. Currently, there are 135 spaces across Clanbrassil Street, Church Street, Bridge Street, Linenhall Street and Northgate Street.
The original Part 8 proposal saw that total drop by 17 to 118 – however, after submissions planners have boosted that back up to 132, just three short of the current total.
Church Street is the main benefactor in this regard. Original proposals had seen the Church Street area lose 13 spaces but now the stretch will lose just four, dropping to 25.
The provision of cycling lanes was also a major talking point as councillors assessed the Part 8 plans for Clanbrassil Street. Council engineers described the junctions along the development route as “inconsistent with safe cycling” saying they would provide a “conflict of movement.”
“There has been a commitment across a number of years to cycling. There’s more to be done but I feel that the main street in the town is different to other streets,” Martin continued. “It’s appropriate in that particular street to give priority to pedestrians. The whole aim is to make the street more attractive to shoppers.
“It absolutely isn’t anti-cylist. I do think the main street of the town is slightly different. From the outset, I have talked about universal design. Those principles are paramount within it,” the Chief Executive told the members.
“The whole point was to make more space for pedestrians. That was fundamentally at the very heart of the project.” Footpaths are being widened as part of the project, with reduced road width part of plans to calm traffic and facilitate better on-road cycling.
As previously reported in the Dundalk Democrat, funding has not been allocated for Bridge Street as part of the overall development. €7.5 million would be needed to include the area in the development – but only €4 million is currently available.
Members of the Bridge Street & St Nicholas Quarter traders group have met with Joan Martin already and the CE confirmed on Tuesday last those conversations can continue with a view to further development.
“I agreed with Bridge Street users that the company would do a detailed design on Bridge Street and I intend to go forward with that with different money,” Joan Martin said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Conor Keelan, one of those who submitted a submission in relation to the development, raised concerns over whether traffic entering the town centre via Linenhall Street would be deviated down to the Fair Green. However, Martin gave the councillor assurances that no change to the current traffic flow would be implemented.
The council executive confirmed that the junction of Linenhall Street and Bridge Street will still allow cars to turn left and right.
Cllr Keelan also raised concerns over the proposed narrowing of the Linenhall Street and Church Street junction, as well plans that would see Patrick Street returning to a two-way street.