DESPITE some concerns over the scale of the development being placed on the record, Wexford County Council is to move forward with the redevelopment of the old Murphy Floods site in Enniscorthy town centre.
The development is set to comprise of the demolition of existing buildings on Irish Street and Barrack Street and the construction of a new “multi-storey structure of mixed-use developments incorporating basement parking of 27 spaces, two floors of commercial/office/community use space at ground and first floor levels and three upper floors containing 18 apartments and a shared communal space”.
A report presented to Monday's meeting of Wexford County Council recommending that the project proceed, stated that three submissions had been made by members of the public.
Dervla Tierney expressed concerns that “the scale of the building proposed does not suit the streetscape of the conservation area, is not proportionate to the historic area of the town and will negatively impact on the streetscape of Irish Street”.
John Walsh had similar concerns, stating that a 7 storey building was “not in-keeping with the streetscape” and that “the building would dwarf all existing shop fronts”. Finally Dr Philip Bowe stated that “the opportunity to widen the entrance to Irish Street and Old Barracks would be lost”, while he also felt that the height of the proposed development was not in-fitting with the town and “will have a major impact on views of Vinegar Hill”.
While the submissions were noted, the Chief Executive’s Report to the members stated that “the developments maximises the significant level changes on the site” and thus “reduced the overall visual impact on the townscape”.
While elected members were enthusiastic, they had some concerns too. Cllr Cathal Byrne said: “We were initially told that things would be set back enough to allow two-way vehicular traffic to return there. This is the one chance we will get to allow two-way traffic there again and I feel it would be a missed opportunity if we didn't.”
Cllr Jackser Owens agreed, stating: “On the town council at the time, we made a stupid mistake by allowing the one-way system there.”
However, he also recorded his enthusiasm for the project as a whole, stating: “It's a long time coming. At the moment, what we have there is a big dirty hole in the middle of town. It’s a disgrace. I look forward to the apartments going in there, to the library going in there and to the car park and everything else.”
Noting the plan to move the town library into the new development, Cllr John O'Rourke expressed his hope that an alternative use for the current building would be forthcoming quickly.
On the topic of two-way traffic, Deputy Chief Executive Eamonn Hore said:
“There is no pedestrianisation proposed with this development at this time and there are no plans to pedestrianise Irish Street or Barrack Street. However, if the town centre is to be successful as a pleasant place to live and do business, the dominance of the car in the town needs to be rebalanced.
"The widening of Irish Street or Barrack Street is not recommended as the existing street widths are adequate for traffic, however, the new buildings set back will improve pedestrian safety.”