Thursday, February 13, 2020

Council seeking public car park option

Kildare County Council is interacting with property owners in Kilcullen with a view to providing a public car park in the town, writes Brian Byrne.

This follows representations by Cllr Tracey O’Dwyer on the provision of such a facility, against the background of the potential loss of car parking spaces as part of the market square development proposals.

Cllr O’Dwyer says that if the discussions prove successful, the proposals could be incorporated in the upcoming Part 8 process on the square redevelopment. “The car park would help get the project over the line,” she says.

The process, by which the Council seeks permission to go forward with the development, has been postponed several times, and most recently deferred until Quarter Two of this year.

The plans for the square would result in the loss of up to 18 public parking spaces in the downtown area, and have been a focus of some difficulty for businesses there.

A number of meetings have taken place between them and Kilcullen Community Action, and with Kildare County Council, both of whom are progressing the square plans.

Some of the business owners have expressed frustration over the plans, which they say don’t take into account the public service element of providing parking.

“It seems to be forgotten that the needs of people who come in to do their business in the town, who are also users of the car parking facilities, have to be considered,” I was told.

A recent determination by the Council that the overground spaces provided with the Market Square residential and retail complex are not by right available for public use is also of concern.

This runs counter to a previous understanding that the spaces were available to the public by virtue of the original planning permission.

The businesses emphasise that they don’t want a ‘them and us’ division with the promoters of the redevelopment plan.

They say they would be happy with some form of car parking regulation in Kilcullen, while acknowledging that the size of the town probably precludes the implementation of pay parking.

But this would require the provision of a public car parking facility, so that on-street parking could be time-regulated to discourage all-day use of public parking spaces. Randomised monitoring by the Council’s Community Wardens could police the system.

Some form of compromise to the ‘pedestrian only’ aspect of the square plan, providing for short-term facility for a small number of motorists would be helpful.

There are land parcels in the downtown area which could provide both cars and coach parking for longer duration if developed as a public facility. It is likely that these are included in the current discussions with the Council.

A suggestion that parking concerns for visitors could be addressed by the provision of ‘P’ signs is discounted by the reality that private car parking areas can’t be so designated without agreement of the owners.

The vast bulk of the car parking used by the public in Kilcullen is privately owned.

A response to a recent question in Kildare County Council about the rights of private car parking owners in Kilcullen to charge for parking said they can do so if they wish.

Public liability insurance issues could conceivably also impact on the availability of parking in private facilities.

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