Bridge plan green light sparks uproar
Kilkenny, the 'Cathedral City' where the streetscape has remained unchanged for centuries, is to get a new bridge, writes Eimear Ni Bhraonain.
The planning appeals body has given the green light for a third bridge to be built crossing the River Nore into the city. Two existing bridges -- John's Bridge and Green's Bridge -- are inadequate to support traffic coming into the busy city centre.
However, there are fears that Kilkenny's old charm, which makes it a popular destination for tourists, will be ruined by a modern bridge.
An Bord Pleanala has approved plans for a new bridge -- estimated to cost about €3m -- and a street to be constructed through the Diageo brewery site in the city centre.
The project will run into several million euro, but building work is not scheduled to start before 2013.
Planning inspectors forced Kilkenny County Council back to the drawing board a number of times -- and now a scaled back version of the scheme has been given approval.
The design of the bridge had to be revised because of its "visual impact" on the heritage-rich city. The development has sparked uproar from campaigners who believe it will sound the "death knell" for Kilkenny's medieval character.
"We can now kiss our reputation as a heritage city goodbye on foot of this decision. It will split the medieval foundations of the city in two with a road to nowhere, to a brown field site for a supermarket," said Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan.
He also said that Kilkenny County Council "cannot afford to build it".
Mr Noonan said the estimates of costs were "way off the mark given the archaeological sensitivity of the area, effectively meaning we will be seeking IMF-borrowed money to finish the bridge".