Sunday 24 March 2019

€1.6m for Fitzwilliam Square transformation

Fitzwilliam Square in Wicklow town
Fitzwilliam Square in Wicklow town

Esther Hayden

The heart of Wicklow town will be transformed next year thanks to a cash injection of €1.6 million.

The money which was announced on Monday is part of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund established under Project Ireland 2040.

Three projects in Wicklow were earmarked for funding worth of a total of €6,721,000 in 2019. Wicklow Town will receive €1.626m for the regeneration of Fitzwilliam Square; Arklow will receive €1.645m for the development of the historic quarter at the Parade Ground while the Bray Public Transport Bridge will receive funding of €3.45m.

The Wicklow Town Centre renewal project is a €4.9million project. It will include Fitzwilliam Square upgrade and street improvement, pedestrianisation of part of the historic square, enhancing the public realm in the area and making Bridge Street into a one way traffic system.

As part of the project the Wicklow library will also be relocated from its current position on Kilmantin Hill to the former Ulster Bank premises on The Mall.

The bank building has already been purchased by Wicklow County Council and the relocation will see the large building refurbished internally to make it suitable to house a library and make it accessible.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Cllr Irene Winters said she was delighted that the project would be getting under way next wee.

'The money will be used for the relocation of the library and the regeneration of Fitzwilliam Square. Several years ago a plan for Fitzwilliam Square was rejected by the town council. At that time the project was to be part of the bike network plan and we rejected it because we felt it took away the character of the town because we would have been losing the hedging and the railings there.

'When the second plan came before use we voted in favour of it because we felt it kept a lot of the character of the square and allowed the area between the coffee shop and Wardrobe to be pedestrianised. I welcome this first tranche of funding for the project. We put a lot of time and effort into the plan to make it as suitable as possible.

'As part of the overall project Bridge Street will also become a one way system which should help to ease traffic congestion in the area.

'The good thing about this funding is that it must be spent in 2019 and the Fitzwilliam Square project and library relocation project are shovel- ready in that there is a design in place and they are ready to go.

'I would hope that the project would be started as soon as possible next year with a view to having a lot of works undertaken by the summer.

'The overall project will cost €4.9million so it is anticipated that we will receive more funding over the coming two years to complete it in its entirety and really enhance the town centre.'

Minister Andrew Doyle said the funding for Wicklow town and indeed Arklow and Bray is 'a huge boost to Wicklow and will enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our towns.

'It will ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest.'

Minister Simon Harris said that the regeneration of Fitzwilliam Square is a key initiative for the development of the town.

The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, as part of Ireland 2040, is the largest regeneration initiative in Ireland for many decades and will be a major driving force behind the rejuvenation of our rural towns.

Wicklow People