Dundalk workshop ‘checking the pulse’ of our historic border towns
A workshop organised by the Heritage Council, Louth County Council and Dundalk BIDS (Business Improvement District) in the Imperial Hotel, Dundalk, took place last Thursday, to discuss, share and capture experiences and proposals for the future of border town centres.
Representatives from three government department, local government partners, expert groups and business leaders focused on ways to improve the living and working environment of local communities and to increase potential to support improved economic activity into the future.
The key findings of the afternoon’s session will form the basis of a White Paper Report to advise a European-wide study into best practice for border town centre enterprise and management.
Commenting on the workshop Alison Harvey, Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Training Programme Coordinator, said: “We are delighted to bring all the historic Border Towns together in Dundalk for this second training workshop. We are very pleased to see the collaboration, focus and commitment demonstrated today. Our goal is to build a town centre that responds to and grows with future generations, working together is a key driver in this project’s success.”
Dundalk is part of the Historic Border Towns grouping along with Monaghan, Donegal Town, Letterkenny and Sligo. This second workshop follows on from the first-ever workshop for Border Towns held in Monaghan in June 2018.
The workshop forms part of a robust 15-step Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) Training Programme led by the Heritage Council.
The outcomes focus on the creation of base-line information to formulate collaborative, evidence-based plans that will then be used as the foundation to develop a town plan that directs future town centre development and revitalisation along the Border.
Councillor Maria Doyle, Leas Cathaoirleach, Louth County Council, opened events. Cllr Doyle said: “Collaboration is vital. To see how many stakeholders are involved in the Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Programme makes me so optimistic about the future of our town.”
Virginia Teehan, CEO, The Heritage Council, spoke of our Borderlands.
“They represent currents of change. They offer room for the stimulation of new ideas and sometimes maverick approaches that can lead to real, positive change.”
The workshop covered government funding for both rural and urban regeneration, where the theme is to encourage liveability, footfall and activity within our town centres, ensuring sustainability and relevance for generations to come.
Gráinne Shaffrey, Shaffrey Architects and Champion of Sustainable Town Centre Regeneration told the delegates: “Our town centres offer resources we cannot afford to waste. Integrating business, residential, social, leisure and public spaces into town centres makes them relevant, vibrant and durable.”
Nick Richardson, CEO, The Insights People informed the group how to speak to our younger people - “Generation Speak”, adding “we need to innovate our high streets to make them relevant for consumers, we need to offer an added value to the customer so that the high street can flourish.”
Meanwhile, Nicki Matthews, Dept of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht highlighted “the opportunities to collaborate as part of this programme, people working together builds extra capacity, this programme allows us to refocus on our town centres as essential to our cultural heritage.”
The afternoon involved an interactive and information sharing session around key policies and themes about town centre development facilitated by Alison Harvey.
The Collaborative Town Centre Health Training Programme was founded to address the challenges that many historic border town centres are facing and to aid and direct their revitalisation for future generations.