Friday, July 07, 2017

Encouraging meeting for market square renewal project

The work already done by community groups in Kilcullen was described as 'fantastic' by an international landscape architect, brought in to make suggestions for the redevelopment of the town's market square, writes Brian Byrne.

James Hennessey of the Paul Hogarth Company commended the 'Kilcullen in Bloom' flowers project, the Valley Park and Bridge Camphill Nature Trail, and the 'care and attention' given by the relevant groups to making the town attractive.

He was in the Town Hall at a meeting held under the auspices of Kilcullen Community action and Kildare County Council, to discuss a proposed redevelopment of the market square, which had an original charter to hold fairs and markets from the late 1600s.

James Hennessey and local architect Laura Bowen.
The Paul Hogart Company is working with KCC to develop Emily Square in Athy, and James Hennessey discussed how this project was progressing. He also provided examples of work in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the company had changed similar public spaces, bringing them back as fun and flexible places for people to use and enjoy.

He said that market squares, including the one in Kilcullen, were 'too important to be car parks', and that communities needed to work out exactly who their town is for, people or cars? "We do need cars, and we need places to park them, but there has to be balance," he noted.

The Paul Hogarth Company presentation was preceded by a display of a local outline plan commissioned by Kilcullen Community action from local architect Laura Bowen. A video prepared by KCA member Gareth Landy was also shown, which included comments from local business people and individuals with an interest in the square.

Joe Boland, KCC, with Cllr Sorcha O'Neill.
Joe Boland, director of services for Water & Environment with Kildare County Council said he was very aware of the 'progressive initiatives' undertaken down the years the Kilcullen's community.

He said the KCA initiative to 'prime' a plan for application to the Town & Village Renewal Scheme was a very good move, and noted that there may also be other funding available. The Council is fully behind the project, he said.

The meeting had a discussion on the parking issues in Kilcullen and how losing the 16 spaces in the square might affect business. Noel Clare of KCA noted that there was plenty of parking in the town, but no signs to indicate where. "We are working on that signage issue," he added.

The meeting was attended by local political representatives, including Fiona O'Loughlin TD and Martin Heydon TD, and councillors Rob Power, Anne Breen, Suzanne Doyle, and Sorcha O'Neill. Cllr Fintan Brett, who is also among the councillors invited onto the local KCA committee for the project, sent apologies as he was committed to another meeting.

Antoinette Buckley, chair of the project group, thanked all for attending and in particular Joe Boland for arranging James Hennessey to be there.

There will be a full report in next Tuesday's Kildare Nationalist.