An Bord Pleanala decision to scrap planning for ring road extension is a major setback to safer mobility in town centre
The decision by an Bord Pleanala to scrap its previously granted planning approval for a vital section of the Kilkenny Ring Road extension highlights deep flaws in future proofing transport planning in Kilkenny and are a major setback to safer mobility in the town centre. I believe that the failure to prioritise the completion of the ring road ahead of the Central Access Scheme means that communities across the city will continue to be affected by increased traffic and the danger posed by HGVs.
A proposal that was brought to both Borough and County Council in September 2012 along with 10,000 signatures, asked for both authorities to prioritise the completion of the ring road ahead of the access scheme and to assess its effectiveness in removing dangerous and unnecessary traffic from the city centre before proceeding with KCAS.
What I thought was a very reasoned and measured proposal was rejected and in my view, we sank significant local resources into the wrong project, which has proven to be of little or no benefit to the city. I have little doubt but that a completed loop around the city would resolve a lot of danger and congestion issues. KCAS has only made these issues worse.
Now, seven years later we’re back to square one; where we have to commence a whole new process with all the expense that entails. This includes a new planning application with no guarantee that the project will be funded as it’s not mentioned in the new National Development Plan.
The decision to scrap the granted planning permission was communicated to elected members last week. An Bord Pleanala decided that their decision to grant planning was flawed and was not capable of being remedied by a referral of the Bord back to the High Court. This followed a ruling in favour of the appeal made by local residents to the European Court of Justice.
This is no comfort for the schools and residents along Granges road, Freshford road, Kennyswell and other areas of the city where traffic levels have now surpassed those used to justify the construction of the inner road in 2007. Planning for smarter travel, to increase the share of cycling and walking, to support bike share and public transport, as we are obliged to do, will be jeopardised by this setback.
The case taken by local residents can only improve the robustness of the project: It is clear that there were flaws within the planning application. I believe if the same energy and sense of urgency were put in to completing the loop around the City as was put into KCAS, we would not be in this situation.
I sincerely hope this is not the end of the road for Kilkenny’s ring road extension. Certainly, as your Green Party representative, I will keep pushing for this and other measures which aid mobility in our town centre