Saturday 20 July 2019

Sheehan's 10-point plan to improve New Ross

Glass canopy over Quay Street among ambitious plans

David Looby

Councillor Michael Sheehan has launched a ten-point plan to improve New Ross on the retail, social and aesthetic front post bypass.

The Fianna Fáil councillor was responding to a front page article in last week's newspaper highlighting changing times on the retail front in New Ross, as several landmark businesses have closed or are closing like Walshe's hair salon and The Cloth Hall, while other businesses like Emerald dry cleaners and French's chemist are amalgamating with other business locations in the town or have moved to Waterford city like Purple Lotus.

Cllr Sheehan said: 'We need to create an enticing town centre through capital money from the county council and Government. I'd like to see North Street/John Street, Quay Street, South Street and Barrack Lane developed as if we can develop growth in those areas the rest of the town will be buoyed up. We need a better vision for the next decade based on meaningful consultation, meaningful conversation and an acceptance of an all-encompassing vision based on the founding axis - what William Marshall termed, Slighe Chualann. A north, south, east and west axis,'

He said visitors to New Ross should have a pleasant, clean, secure experience. 'We need an investment in the public realm to include more art, lights, seating contained within uniform design reflecting our unique heritage. A modern, illuminated, well designed urban area will entice and keep people in the town. In the next decade, we need to balance the development of the town centre on three lines, then connect the remainder of the area to those three areas. William Marshall understood this when he developed along a north/south and east/west axis.'

He said a large glass canopy over Quay Street making the street an attractive social hub, would be a huge statement to anyone entering the town via the old bridge.

'Anyone familiar with the food court in Kilkenny's Mc Donagh Junction, would know what it feels like to eat in a courtyard under a large glass canopy. Quay Street lends itself perfectly to such a canopy where people can eat, socialise or have festivals under a heated pavilion all year long, irrespective of the weather. Imagine coming over the bridge in December to see a winter festival bustling with people in a warm environment, properly lit and designed.'

He said the bypass will see people who want to stay, shop and eat in New Ross visiting the town, with far less through traffic, adding that they need to be in a vibrant, attractive town. 'We need to give grants for new and existing businesses, a rate holiday for new businesses to give them time before they have to pay commercial rates, and encourage people to live over shops through tax breaks and incentives. A shop front renewal scheme, giving business owners small grants, is also needed.'

Cllr Sheehan called on the council to use derelict sites like the courthouse on Cross Street for youth groups to foster a strong connection with the town. Another strand of his plan involves developing a one-stop-shop enterprise office and more incentive schemes to get elderly people shopping local, through schemes run through the chamber of commerce.

Cllr Sheehan is appealing to people to contact him with their ideas about improving New Ross for locals and also for visitors.

New Ross Standard