Following the decision by An Bord Pleanala to refuse planning for a major retail development at the former Mart site in Kilkenny City, Mayor Malcolm Noonan is calling on Kilkenny County Council to abandon plans for a redesigned bridge as part of the Central Access Scheme. He contends that the re design of the bridge and Environmental Impact Statement now represents an undue financial burden on the local authority and may never be constructed in light of the refusal of the citymart development.
‘I would largely agree with An Bord Pleanala’s decision, this is an edge of town site and a retail development on this scale could have potentially damaged the core retail area and city centre. While the short term construction jobs would have been most welcome, it is unlikely in the current climate that all of the development would have proceeded and I would now hope that that the project proposers will go back to the drawing board with a scaled down plan for the site that is more in keeping with the future needs of the city’ he said. He also said that the project failed to adequately address new planning and retail guidelines on edge of town and out of town retail developments and the damage they can do to town centres.
Mayor Noonan also stated that the Central Access Scheme (CAS) is so compromised now that it should be scrapped in favour of the completion of the outer ring road and the implementation of a public transport scheme and other mobility measures to service future needs of the city including the mart site. ‘The redesign of the bridge cannot be justified on cost grounds while our water infrastructure requires so much investment and our library services are chronically under funded. The CAS has already cost us signifiacnt financial and time resources and we the elected members have not been furnished with a costing for the re design of the bridge crossing’ he said.
He said that the decision to refuse the current proposal for the mart site should be viewed as an opportunity to look at the entire scheme, road infrastructure, connectivity and consolidating the city centre. ‘Kilkenny has been relatively fortunate, we didn’t over do out of town retail like other towns in the region. Many places like Clonmel and Carlow are suffering because of an over proliferation of retail on the edge of their towns. Kilkenny has a fantastic opportunity to get it right. I would hope that an imaginative re designed plan for the citymart site with a good mix of social and commercial infrastructure will protect our beautiful city while creating much needed employment’ he concluded.