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Laois Council Sets Out to ‘Regenerate’ Historic Heart of Mountmellick

Laois County Council intend to appoint an architect-led construction design team to develop an enhancement scheme to regenerate the historic centre of Mountmellick.

The council has invited companies to bid for the contract worth up to €150,000 to draw up plans for the public realm. A similar plans has been prepared for Portlaoise. A draft plan is near completion for Portarlington with work commencing in both towns. Work is underway on preparing a plan for Mountrath.

Central to the council’s contract is the prioritisation of people over cars. In a tender briefing document the council say the the centre of Mountmellick is dominated by the car and the focus is not on the pedestrian.

The Council said, “the objective of the proposed scheme is to reverse this trend and give the space back to the pedestrian so that as the town expands, it can do so in a safe way that ensures they remain pleasant places that support communities into the future.

The main objective of the project is to create a more viable and visually attractive town centre in Mountmellick for residents, visitors and workers through the appropriate improvements to the public realm and amenities. Underpinning this objective is the desire to ultimately regenerate the town centre by tackling critical issues such as poor pedestrian environment and dysfunctional public spaces.

The council says the overall vision includes increasing the attractiveness of the area to encourage investment.

It says this could potentially include the following:

  • Re-design O’Connell Square to include installation of paving, seating, information signage, pathways, undergrounding of overhead cables and planting.
  • Planting of hedges and climbing plants in the area of O’Connell Square.
  • Significant boundary treatment which may include planting of beech hedges, installation of high kerbs to prevent parking and the provision of grass margins.
  • Provision of ducting, pavement slabs and finish to a high quality.

County hall says the aim of the project is to appoint an architecturally led design team to progress through all the required stages design, tender, supervise, certify, handover of the conservation and enhancement of the Public Realm around the O’Connell Square, Market Street, Church Street, Pearse Square and Patrick Street including surrounding areas and others as required to enhance its use by the community and its setting at the core of the historic town of Mountmellick. The council says the brief maybe extended beyond these areas or differ as the client sees appropriate.

The council says the design must create a safe and pleasant pedestrian-friendly square, provide more space for pedestrians and “reduce the dominance of the motor vehicle” and generally enhance the public realm in the historic core of the town. The council also say the design must provide for the requirements of the businesses on the square in a way that does not take from the visual presentation of the historic Georgian square.

The council also want the plan to include a waiting area for public transport within or adjacent to the square. The reorganisation of O’Connell Square including traffic management measures and the creation of a shared surface with pedestrian priority is required with the ultimate aim of such work would “to eliminate unnecessary traffic and car parking in the Square” and ensure car users understand that this is a predominantly pedestrian space.

County hall is requesting bidders to come up with proposals for the reconfiguration of the junctions between the N80 and O’Connell Square to include the widening of the existing footpath and the upgrading of designated car parking spaces to allow for the presentation of the Square as a Square when cars are not present, while still allowing for the safe and effective control of parking.

A public lighting scheme is required and the council and all lighting shall be LED type and the council says a series of seating facilities and complementary street furniture, as appropriate, should be incorporated into the design. The local authority also wants the setting of the Christmas Tree structure reconfigured so that the area can be used for public events with a system for safe exclusion of cars.

Designers will also be asked to come up with recommendations for landscaping to improve the appearance of the area with benefits for pollinators and other biodiversity.

Laois County Council will reserve the option with this appointment to extend the brief to undertake other works as required for the delivery of associated or complimentary projects. The local authority plans to award the contract in the middle of November 2021. The council says the consultants that win the contract must include the expertise of urban designers, architects, engineers, archaeologist, ecologists, and quantity surveyors.

Source: Leinster Express

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