Fingal County Council has launched a public consultation on plans to transform the centre of Balbriggan as part of a €10 million redevelopment which will deliver a unique sustainable public open space in the heart of Ireland’s youngest town.
A public consultation process on the revitalisation plans for the area will begin on Thursday July 7. Subject to planning permission, the redevelopment of the 19,300 square metres site is expected to commence in late 2023, with works being completed in five phases between early 2024 and Q1 2025.
The multi-purpose plaza area and linear park is designed to host markets, events and festivals and to provide a centre point to an enhanced leisure and tourist offering in the town. The proposed new space is the largest signature project to be brought forward under the Our Balbriggan 2019-2025 Rejuvenation Plan.
The public realm redevelopment will see areas of Quay Street, Mill Street, Harbour Road and Balbriggan Harbour become an integrated space which seamlessly links the town centre and River Bracken with the harbour.
Some 75% of the funding for the project will come from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, with the remainder financed from Fingal’s capital spending programme.
A key component of the revitalisation will be the canalisation of the River Bracken, turning it into a feature amenity for residents and visitors to enjoy. Broad steps will lead down to the waterway, which will feature increased planting, improved biodiversity and enhanced flood protection for the town.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Howard Mahony highlighted the new development’s importance for the local tourist economy, saying, “this green urban area will be the key link between Bremore Regional Park and historic Ardgillan Castle. Alongside this, it will serve as a scenic starting point for the Fingal Coastal Way and be at the heart of Balbriggan’s offering for local people and visitors alike.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, chair of the Our Balbriggan Leadership Group said that this is the most ambitious step yet in the town’s rejuvenation plan, saying, “our research, conducted with the people of Balbriggan, clearly demonstrated support for reimagining the harbour area. We have before us proposals that will do just that, creating an exciting, lively pier and waterfront that will help link leisure and tourism opportunities in the town and significantly boost Balbriggan’s offering.”
AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council believes that the new public realm proposals will provide an ideal central meeting place on the Fingal coast, saying, “this is one of the most significant milestones in our ambition to redevelop Balbriggan and represents a major investment in the town. This reimagined space is a symbol of the progress being made in the Our Balbriggan plan – one that was informed and shaped by the community and which will provide a well-designed public place for people to not only enjoy but feel proud of.”
Under the plans, the existing playground, green spaces and planting zones will nearly double in size, with play equipment for all ages integrated into the flowing design of the public space.
Low-level stone walls will also be removed from the town’s viaduct to create a seamless flow through the pedestrian area linking the new public space to the reimagined harbour. The plan also preserves full access for working harbour traffic through restricted shared surfacing and prioritising pedestrian access.
Enhancing the appeal of the location, a new commercial building and two new kiosks will be built on the site of a former nightclub in the harbour area in order to accommodate visitor and leisure activities. A new toilet block with changing facilities, lockers and a retail kiosk will be situated at the entrance to the beach by the railway viaduct and the former RNLI boathouse conserved and refurbished for commercial cafe/retail use.
To help with the transformation of the area into a people-oriented public space, the plans outline the removal of 175 car parking spaces with the enhanced space dedicated to fostering the enjoyment of people in a setting which encourages them to stay and safely relax, play and enjoy the attractive space.
Extensive surveying of the town’s car parking spaces has been carried out which has indicated that there is more than sufficient car parking capacity at all times around the town to facilitate the removal of these car parking spaces in this area.
The Council is keen to gain further views on the proposals which have been developed thanks to the ongoing input from the community at various information meetings held over the last 12 months. This feedback and local insight have been key to helping progress the ongoing work in Balbriggan and is reflected in the current proposal.
The public consultation process will commence on Thursday, July 7 with plans on public display at Balbriggan Library and County Hall, Swords until August 5. They will also be available online at consult.fingal.ie.
Scheduled open days, advertised in advance, will take place in July and August at the Our Balbriggan Hub in George’s Square where people can discuss the plans with relevant Council officials for more information.
Submissions about the redevelopment plans will be accepted until 5pm on August 19. Please see link to the consultation here.
Source: Fingal County Council